Sunday, February 8, 2009

How far would you travel for a favorite food?

Husband No. 1 and I drove 82 miles this weekend to dine on a brand of hamburgers and fries we’ve loved since 1986. But since it seemed a little indulgent to travel an hour and a half just to eat, we decided we'd also visit some interesting spots along the way to Dedham, Mass.

And when I say interesting, I mean destinations that would appeal to people who’ve visited Cereal City, the home of Mile High Pie and Elvis’s plane. You get the idea. The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) – the world's only museum dedicated to “art too bad to be ignored” – fit the bill perfectly.

It’s located in the basement of the Dedham Community (Movie) Theater, just opposite the men’s room. At the theater concession they sell a T-shirt that sums up the experience – “In our museum, it’s not the artists that are tortured, it’s the patrons.”

They aren’t kidding. I’m posing next to a work of “art” entitled “Drilling for Eggs,” which was one of the better paintings retrieved from the trash, yard sales and thrift shops. There’s only room to display about 30 or 40 of the free museum’s 400 pieces and after viewing some of the other works online, I can honestly say we're relieved "Sunday on the Pot with George” and "Circus of Despair" weren't on display.

Friends suggested we also include a visit to the New England Mobile Book Fair, New England’s largest independent bookstore, in nearby Newton. It's a 32,000-square-foot maze of rooms filled with books that are a minimum of 20 percent off. The bargain section of this 52-year-old store is huge and the prices are incredible. There are so many rooms and shelves that it's easy to spend hours there. Part of the store is organized by the names of publishers and many of the books are arranged by title, rather than author, so you either wander up and down and enjoy the view or go to the computer to figure out where to find a book. There are category shelves, as well, such as a section for winners of the prestigious Edgar awards bestowed by the Mystery Writers of America, a prize I'd like to claim myself someday.

After all the books and bad art, it was time to continue the pilgrimage to our dining destination --Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Dedham, the nearest location thus far of a burger chain that began in 1986 with one tiny takeout spot four blocks from our former home in Arlington, Virginia. It didn't take us long to fall in love with their fresh, never-frozen, ground beef without fillers or preservatives, the free toppings and the heavenly plain or Cajun french fries cooked in peanut oil. The buns came from (the now closed) Brenner's Bakery next door and there were barrels of peanuts to amuse the kids and adults. We were such regulars that we only had to call and say our name to get our order started.

Today, that little takeout restaurant, launched by the Murrell
family with the college money they'd saved for sons who decided not to go, has been franchised to 1,500 locations in 25 states. But nearly everything is the same, down to their habit of putting so many french fries in the Styrofoam cups that they spill into the bag. Even the prices haven't changed too much. And they're still feeding our family, including our two sons in the Washington area who are regulars at Five Guys locations around D.C. Although I'm now a semi-vegetarian (a subject for a later blog), it wasn't difficult to make an exception for Five Guys.

I've made that same exception for a sliced beef brisket sandwich and ice-cold beer at Angelo's Barbecue in Fort Worth, Texas (although the experience isn't quite the same since the Health Department made them take the sawdust off the floor). Come to think of it, I traveled two and a half days by train to get to Texas (also once my home), so going to Dedham was easy in comparison. Although the Texas trip was for a surprise birthday party, I couldn't leave without visiting Angelo's and the Village Bakery in the town of West, Texas, for kolaches.

How about you? How far would you travel to enjoy a favorite food?


ALittleGuitar said...

Yes, Five Guys is definitely worth the trip.

Pat Remick said...

I have to say I like it even better than Club Schmitz, though I do remember some fine burgers from there, as well.

Lorna Barrett said...

Twice a year we journey to East Aurora, NY (home of Albert Hubbard and the Roycroft movement) and the Globe hotel where you'll get the best fish fry in the U.S. It's about 90 miles from us--and we usually combine it with a visit to my mother-in-law (which is definitely not the highlight of the trip).

Pat Remick said...

hmm... fish fry sounds good!
By the way, I saw your newest book, Bookmarked for Death that takes place in the fabulous state of New Hampshire, on the shelves at the NE Mobile Book Fair yesterday. The cover looks even better in person than it did online!

Nancy Nearing said...

We'll drive 10 hours for fried clams in Portsmouth! (and a visit to Pat and Frank)

Diane Valley said...

Well, we never miss an opportunity to enjoy a Moe's sandwich when we visit the Portsmouth area from Texas. And, of course that includes some awesome tidbits at Pat and Frank's house, too!!!

Glimmer said...

I am off the beef too and this is the hardest thing to resist!