Many of the best meals are not about the food. They’re all about the journey.
We’ll never forget that first bag of roasted chestnuts eaten in Central Park on a fall vacation. We remember the smell in the air and the gorgeous colors straight out of a dream. The sum is greater than its parts.
When we know the effort it takes to put food on the table, we appreciate it more. We savor food made by those we love. And, sometimes, it’s about a group effort, working as a team to put food on the table. But, not today. Today, it’s all about remembering your place in line and getting to know those around you as you wait. Today, is all about patience. It’s about watching life go on all around you–at its own pace. It’s about those people you meet along the way. It’s about making a new friend. Not a friend for life, though maybe they will be (you never know). It’s about making a friend who’ll pass the time with you and share the experience, the acquaintances (determined by nothing more than arrival time), the camaraderie among fellow diners, and the friendliness of strangers. That might just be the best part. Meeting a stranger who has no motivation to be friendly. But, just for the sake of it, they are. They take a moment out of their hectic lives and pass the time with you.
You walk in the door and stand in what you think is a line. But, then a helpful stranger passes on the rules to you. You’re last. You’re behind the lady in the brown shirt. You wait. You make small talk. You smile as you hear the rules pass from person to person. You watch with humor as someone bounds for the door without asking and chuckle as Miss Ann tells them, “You must be last.” Then, you watch with more amusement as they learn the ropes. Usually, they settle in for the wait somewhere near the person in front of them in line. Sometimes, noone volunteers the information and lets a victim wander in for the group’s amusement. And, the group has a little laugh at their expense. Then, you’re one of them. You wait your turn for one of the biggest, messiest, orneriest (but, in a good way) burgers you’ll ever see.
We were lucky enough to be one of the first seated in our group. We saw Miss Ann and her team prep the grill for a new batch of burgers. Huge mounds of beef were formed into semi-flat meatballs. As they sizzled away, big batches of potatoes were set into fry baskets for the first frying. Then, sliced onions are layered over the sizzling burgers. Those onions will eventually become one with the burger. Halfway through the burger’s grilling, we get a plate full of crispy fries. We watch, wait, and nibble. Each onion topped patty is gilded with a slice of American cheese. And, we begin to salivate like one of Pavlov’s dog.
Miss Ann goes about her tasks. She jokes and smiles with us and her team. Other times, she dishes out orders as swiftly as a drill sergeant. Miss Ann is the secret ingredient to her success. The burger is her gift to us. And, that’s what makes it special.
The Ghetto Burger:
-One toasted bun
-Two HUGE meat patties grilled with sliced onions & each patty topped with its own slice of cheese
-Chili (it’s more of a condiment than a topping)
-Bacon (perfectly browned and crisp)
This is not a meal. It’s your food for the day.
Star of the Day: Miss Ann! Atlanta will lose something and someone very special the day she closes her doors for the last time.
Ann’s Snack Bar
1615 Memorial Drive
Atlanta, GA 30317
(Don’t even think about trying to call)