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Byron Loker

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Charlie’s good food

I drove a ski-boat down to Alexandria, Minnesota for something called “winterization”, listening all the way to the country music stations popping up from town to town: Tim McGraw singing how he’ll always be, and another man singing them pantyhose ain’t stayin’ on for long if the DJ puts Bon Jovi on.

Took a wrong turn just south of Alexandria heading direction St. Cloud–the wrong way home–until I notice Interstate 94 flowing back and forth and find my¬†way west and through Fergus Falls, looking for an I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it downhome diner that’d serve me coffee and a slice of cake. I found it just outside of Detroit Lakes–red-painted and shabby–an old lady, and presumably her son, climbing into an ancient maroon Cadillac outside and a black dog waiting patiently in the only other parked car. A young man inside said, “You see my dog in the car?” while two old men bellowed about football as loudly as anyone could possibly bellow about football. The barlady called me honey and I just know that’s what she calls everybody, and there was no coffee and no cake on the menu. So I ordered a cheese burger and a root beer and, after, the barlady said, “Good burger, huh?”

I said, “Yes, it was.”

“We hand-pat ‘em ourselves,” the barlady said and I said, “And it was perfectly cooked, red in the middle.”

“I know, right!” The barlady said, “It freaks some people out but it’s just better that way, keeps the juices in.”


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