The Spot (Extended)
What does home taste like? Is it like food the soothes with the scent as you walk through the door from school? Is it food that comforts tired souls with a taste after football practice? Is it a warm meal that makes a long day’s work worth it?
For me it was my father’s cooking. He was a chef in The U.S. Navy for 20 years so he knew his way around the kitchen. During the week it was a toss-up but Sunday’s after church, I was guaranteed a down south supper. He loved the savory flavor he got from onions as a base seasoning, he felt a kick of spice was appropriate for any food and butter was the nectar of life that made food perfect. This was the food that helped heal my dislocated shoulder and brought friends over seeking more than just my company. After 18 years of that home cooking, going off for college meant the meals that massaged aches away would be 10 hours away, three whole states. The thought of making my own food sadden me. The food made by my hand seemed to lack the calming effect of food made by my father’s. Even when I had the exact recipe, the food fell short of the mark, good enough to fill me up but not give me the relief of dad’s home cooking. After a couple years of toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and innumerable bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch I stumbled on a hidden gem tucked away in a shopping center with Big Lots. You could not see it from the street driving by unless you were looking for it and if you were looking for it, you might miss it anyway. The sign out front was modest and honestly unexciting. Despite these obstacles, I had found the spot. Actually the name of the restaurant happened to be The Spot, a small family owned soul food place that was only known to the locals. I was torn between keeping The Spot as my own sanctuary to hideaway or to spread the word of the buried treasure I had found to the masses.
My first visit made me a customer for life.
You could taste the ambition and passion of the husband and wife that owned this undiscovered treasure, trying to build a reputation, to gain faithful customers and to expand beyond their shopping center corner. The mac and cheese contained a generous amount of cheese and had just the subtle butter taste making it lovely. The golden fried fish tasted rich and the dirty rice was downright filthy. There was even cornbread and strawberry frosted vanilla cake for dessert in a glass cake dish like grandma used to have. They had homemade sweet tea with homemade lemonade that made a Arnold Palmer that seemed to just harmonize. The rest of the semester was spent tasting the rest of the menu searching for a favorite until I came to the conclusion that the restaurant was.
I had found a home away from home at The Spot.