Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lunch at the John Steinbeck House

I sit alone under a photograph of a young John Steinbeck.  The boy has big ears, an impish grin and his pants are tucked into boots.  This is where the great American author was born.  It is here in Salinas, California, where he entertained neighborhood chums with stories of King Arthur.  This rambling Queen-Anne Victorian resembles a castle of sorts.  With its turret, regal front steps and numerous rooms, a little boy's imagination could run rampant here.  And indeed, it did!

The ladies of the Valley Guild are gourmet cooks.  They bought and renovated this house in order to showcase their talents.  The John Steinbeck House and Restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturdays only.   The menu is posted online and changes every month according to what is available from the local farms.  My mushroom bisque is hot and flavorful; the turkey and avocado wrap, fresh and crisp.  It is a perfect meal.

I do not mind eating alone.  The foursome next to me are getting increasingly agitated over the upcoming presidential election.  I am happy daydreaming about driving my van across country, not with a big black poodle, but with a sassy mannequin riding shotgun.  Mimi could care less about politics.  She would have me stop at every boutique, antique and consignment store on the way.  We are traveling to Oz.  Mimi wants a human heart like the Tin Man.  I am seeking a big fat dose of Courage.

I raise my glass to the boy above me.  "To Mimi and Charley," I say.

I swear he winks.

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