In our family, it's critical to keep ones' ears open for fantastic food finds: restaurants, farmer's markets, specialty shops. Finding good food is good mining.
While in Paris one year, our daughter stayed ahead of us the whole time with suggestions for amazing cafes, creperies and boulangeries, as she followed a friend's posts who was also in Paris on a culinary journey.
So when a family member finds a highly rated, award winning cafe for breakfast, a plan is formed. Never mind that we have to drive a half hour and wait for 30-40 minutes for a table--anticipation of fluffy, sour cream pancakes and the Pot o'Gold egg, bacon, and gravy concoction, will be worth the wait.
The date and time is set.
The persistent daughter who wrangled everyone's schedule to match, arrives early to put our name on the waiting list. Ten people! We come to the party within minutes of each other. The mamma and her babies are waiting in the car. When we search the parking lot we see why--she's parked between two firetrucks! Almost three-year-old and one-and-a-half year old (still in pajamas) are mesmerized and happy to stay in their car seats...until we take over the van and set them free. Grandpa carries one toddler around--pointing, touching, experiencing in real life heretofore images only seen in Richard Scarry's illustrated truck book. The trucks are so big, so red and shiny, so many lids and gadgets, even I'm excited! A glimpse through a truck window reveals more paraphernalia than I could have imagined.
As we stand near the trucks, two big groups of men come sauntering along. All dressed in blue, manly, serious-faced, they present an intimidating presence. When we greet them with gratitude, they're all smiles and they pull out two children's plastic firemen's helmets and stickers that look like fire chief badges.
The little guys go inward like turtle heads into their shells.
"Would you like to sit in the driver's seat?" A fireman asks. Both are quiet and won't let go of their mama and grandpa.
"Would you like to explore the inside of the truck?" They cling even tighter.
One fireman comments, "I wish I could go to work in my pajamas."
We say our goodbyes, at least the adults, and the firemen have an even bigger surprise. They pull out of the parking lot with sirens, horns, and flashing lights.
Our beeper telling us the table is ready, is just one more surprise as is the late and safe arrival of the dad who's been packing the car with bikes for an after breakfast trail ride in a ski resort's mountains.
When the first plate of pancakes arrives with a Matterhorn of whipping cream, carmel and pecans, a collective stomach growl emerges from the table.
The whole morning becomes an experience. The excitement over the menu,
the hunger that drove us to oooh and ahhh. The possibility of new
taste. When breakfast is eaten we linger. We share ideas, food feedback, plans for the day and even the week. We only break apart when we realize other people are waiting for tables and our turn to eat is done. But it's hard to part. The mama runs to get buttons, we follow the toddlers around the parking lot and watch the three year old drive the car.
We start telling riddles and jokes... but there are trails to ride, homework and Saturday shopping that needs to be done, lesson plans that need creation. We say good-bye and head our separate ways--until the next time someone finds an excuse to be together.