Thursday, April 02, 2009

Juicy Lucy, or Adventures in Fine Dining, St Paul style

Just arrived in Ham Lake, MN (north of Saint Paul). St. Paul's staff member Jessica Balzarini picked me up at the airport and introduced me (after Mass at St. Mary's) to the local burger, called a "Juicy Lucy." I have never heard of these cheese-stuffed hamburgers, so she brought me to the acknowledged leader in this local cuisine, a tiny place called "The Nook." I was a little uncomfortable when we came through the door and all I could see was the bar... but a family with three tiny children came in with us, so that was my clue that this was an all-round sort of establishment. Besides, as Jessica informed me, it had even been spotlighted on the Food Network (my favorite TV haunt!). Now, I generally hew to a pretty healthy diet. I love veggies and I love to cook. But you don't go to the top-ranked burger joint in Saint Paul and order a salad. You go for the Juicy Lucy (or in this establishment, the "Juicy Nookie") (with the pepper jack cheese for me) (and the hand-cut fries that come with it) (and the bottomless iced tea, even though it was still in the 30's). Jessica clued me in that you have to cut the burger before attempting to eat it, or you will get a lapful of very hot, melted cheese. Since, in the evangelical spirit, I did not pack a second "tunic" (habit) for this trip, there is no way I was going to risk turning into the world's largest burger melt. I did as I was told and watched the white-hot lava spill over toward the fries. And enjoyed every bite! (Good thing I don't eat like that every day, though!)After lunch, we stopped at the Catholic bookshop next door. (I had noticed the Catholic titles in the window as we passed by.) It did my heart good to see our Pauline editions on the front table, and a big stack of our wonderful First Communion memory book with the sacrament display. Theology of the Body was easy to spot, too. The proprietor was truly happy to learn that our Chicago community hosted a streaming video study group for people who would like to get into TOB but find the book intimidating. As soon as I finish this post, I am going to send him the information. (You might consider sharing that info with the Catholic bookstores in your area, too; it can help them to sell the book if customers know there is a kind of "user support" available for it.)Now I'm checked into a comfortable little hotel room (free wi-fi) to get a bit of rest before my evening talk at St. Paul's. (You already know what I'm going to talk about!)

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