Last night, Alanna and I ordered in from a local burger place that boasts the burger voted 17th best in all of the U.S. But this isn’t about that burger. It's about the accompanying fries.
Every great burger serving restaurant has to make choices about how they’re going to serve their side of fries. Will they be fresh, never frozen? Hand cut? Waffle? Shoestring? Pub?
And what about that seasoning? Just salt and maybe a little pepper? Or, will the fries venture down that unknown path of adventurous dusting?
Adventurous dusting—that's what this is about.
We’ve had our fair share of pubfare over the years, and in those years we’ve experienced some adventurous dustings: crack fries (now called cosmic fries) from HopCat, that are so deviously sweet and salty that they are addictive (especially when dipped in a cheese sauce). Dank fries from Grand Rapids Brewing Company, with that mixture of salt, pepper, and what is that…dill? Or chronic fries from Stella’s Lounge with that strange peppery dusting that is almost too spicy to be edible—almost.
The fries that came with our burgers last night took us on a new adventure: cinnamon.
I know, I know. Cinnamon does not belong on French fries! It belongs in rolls, cakes, and Christmas cookies. It pairs best with sugar, or lightly dusted on some hot chocolate.
Now, perhaps some of you who are experienced cooks and bakers, true food aficionados, might tell me to slow down on my festive spice assumptions. But for the rest of us, we know: cinnamon is a dessert spice.
We know where it belongs. We know where its comfortable. We know where it does its best work. We know where it makes its greatest contribution to the world.
But here’s the thing about our cinnamon dusted fries. . . it worked. Sure it was in a new setting, surrounded by some new ingredients, but it worked.
I applaud Memphis Mojo’s Café for taking us on this adventure to see cinnamon shine in a new way. It gave me a new appreciation for the flavor. Started making me wonder: what else it can do? What other adventurous dustings might it be a part of?
My friend Kaitlyn uses it in her empanadas. She made us some just after we had our first child, when the only cooking I was capable of involved reheating things in a microwave. I was just as shocked then as I was last night. It worked!
Its August as I write this. And for us, August is a month of cinnamon. We’ve just moved from just outside Grand Rapids, MI down south to Memphis, TN. My wife took a position at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. I’m not quite sure what I’ll be doing for work yet. The questions abound: will we belong here? Will we be comfortable here? Will we be able to do some of our best work or make a good contribution to the world here? We’ve moved from the place we know and the people we love to a brand new setting, surrounded by new ingredients. Will it work?
My guess is that if we sat down and talked, I’d find out that August is a month of cinnamon for you too. Its a month of hanging onto summer nights with friends and family. Its about last-ditch vacations and road trips with the people we love, to the places we know. On the one hand August is a month of knowing where we belong. Knowing where we are comfortable. Knowing where we work best and make our contributions to the world. But on the other hand, August is a month of adventure. Maybe a new school year about to begin or a new relationship. A new setting. A new job about to start. A new city to move to. A new college. A new classroom. Perhaps even a new career.
And all of that new brings up questions:
Will I belong here?
Will I be comfortable here?
Will I be able to do my best work or make a contribution to the world here?
Or am I just a festive dessert confection?
Here’s the thing: you won’t know until you try. So here’s to August, here’s to cinnamon, and here’s to you and your new adventurous dusting.