Monday, April 13, 2015

Travel tales: Memphis toast


I went to Memphis to see my Memphis friends. I had a meetup at a Cooper Young coffee shop on Saturday morning and several friends showed up. I had never been to this coffee shop  before - I did not discover the joys of coffee until I moved to Milwaukee - of course, I had never been so cold before I moved to Milwaukee, either. But even if I had discovered the joys of coffee (ie, coffee-flavored chocolate milk) before I left Memphis, I could not have afforded to drink it at coffee shops, as I was unemployed my last three years in Memphis.

But this was the coffee shop where my friend Leigh, whom I met when we started the local chapter of returned Peace Corps volunteers specifically as a way to meet men and it worked for the third in our trio, Megan (Kenya), who met her husband (Chad) that way, met her husband. Leigh did not find an RPCV husband and neither did I. Leigh picked hers up at the coffee shop and it has all worked out very well. I, of course, found mine - a used model - at a college reunion.

So Leigh and I went to the coffee shop to hang out with other Memphis friends. We didn't eat breakfast before we went, thinking we would get some there.

They had toast on the menu.

I have never ordered an entire plate of toast.

I mean, I have never ordered a slice of toast as its own menu item. I have heard of this phenomenon - apparently, it is Done in San Francisco. 

And after thinking about it, I thought, Well sure. Why not charge $2 for a few slices of cheese toast? It is not inexpensive to bake nice bread or pastry or cake. I have baked and if you want good bakery, you have to use good ingredients and adding cheese to anything drives up the production costs a lot.

I thought, Why not be all left-coasty and order some toast? It has to be really good bread if they are charging that much for toast!

So I did.

And a few minutes later, the very sincere and probably an indy singer/songwriter waiter brought a plate with two very small, very thin, very unadorned pieces of toast to the table.

He set the plate in front of me, smiled, and left.

I looked at the toast.

I looked at Leigh.

I thought, Well, it's my own dumb fault for not asking more questions when I placed my order. I just assumed it would be thick slices of very cheesy toast. I just assumed and you know what happens when you assume.

I looked back at the toast. I sighed. Maybe it tasted better than it looked. But it sure didn't look like three-cheese toast. It just looked like - toast.

I took a bite.

Not very cheesy.

I put it back down.

Leigh looked at me. "Is something wrong with your toast?"

"I thought there would be more of it. And I was expecting - you know - cheese."

"When I had it before, it had a ton of cheese," she said. "Let me take it back for you."

"No!" I said. I didn't want to make a scene. It was just toast.

She insisted.

I should tell you about Leigh.

She is about 5'1" and weighs barely 100. She is blonde and petite and she smiles and has an Alabama drawl and has no fear* and people underestimate her to their peril.

The waiter returned with something - I don't remember what.

Leigh smiled. "Hey!" she said.

The waiter smiled back. They never can help themselves. She is very attractive.

"Hey! My friend is visiting Memphis and I want her to have a good time and have good memories. I told her this toast was so good because I've had it before and it was super cheesy but I don't know what happened! Look! No cheese!" 

She held the plate to the waiter's face. He looked confused.

"So what I'm wondering is could you maybe take this back and give her some cheese on her toast? I mean, because that's what she thought she was getting and I want her to like it."

Poor kid. He was probably about 22 and had no idea what had hit him.

"Um OK," he said, taking the plate.

Leigh smiled. "Thank you so much! You are so nice!"

He returned in four minutes with two slices of toast drowning in cheese. I couldn't even finish them, it was so much food.

This is why it's so fun to hang out with Leigh.

* She was hit by a car that ran a red light. When she got out of her car to talk to the other driver, she discovered two very big, very tough-looking women. Leigh asked for the driver's insurance information and was told the driver had no insurance. "But that's illegal!" she huffed. Another driver, who had stopped upon witnessing the accident, pulled Leigh away, saying, "Honey, let's just let the police sort it out, OK?"


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