|Coffee Pot Cafe at Creekside. The first of this chain was established in 1930 by Mr. & Mrs. JJ Caruth|
This is where your Mama works after a hike.
This is where that day I told the waitress I have no idea. "History is I've had the chicken salad and grilled cheese. But I've been told the hamburger. And I definitely want the gumbo. But you just said the special. You have to order."
"The special with water and lemon, please."
This is when your Mama gets out her keyboard and camera.
These are her notes.
Saturday at noon w/in minutes tables start to fill w/customers ranging from ages 2 years old to late eighties. People seat themselves and reseat if they see someone who may require a larger number of chairs needed.
This is a sweet community.
A man with the greatest of hats walks in. Sits at the table behind me. His wife is with him.
Greatest quote of the day.
"We were not put here to make a living but to live our making and when we live our making we will make a living."
A friend once told Lin that not long after she was widowed and wondering what she would do with her life.
"Make your roux with butter. Most people try to make cooking complicated. It's not complicated. It's simple."
That one is Lin.
There's this guy who comes here every week. He says."Every week I try to make your gumbo. Why is your roux better than my roux?"
"It's the butter. Everyone hears oil, but it's not oil. Just put you some butter in there."
Lin is from Louisiana, and she loves to cook. She loved to paint. Food is culinary art. You'll believe it if you come here. She has just done a transference of talent. The woman is beautifully talented and smart and works as if she was born among eight children who had to make what they had work. And work nicely with flavor.
Eclectic. Legs of different tables on a painted blue concrete floor with black and white tile towards the coffee bar. Mismatched chairs and brightly colored plastic tablecloths. Order a coke and get a can to pour over ice, but the tea, sweet and unsweet, and water comes in pitchers.
You can get a little saucer of thin lemon brought to your table. Big, thick silverware for someone who loves to eat. There are plenty of napkins at the table.
The special is the rib plate served with a side of jambalaya and a sweet little juicy corn on the cob hiding under two rightly goldened slices of French bread.
The plate is the real stuff. This is not fast food though it comes to the table quick.
The food is a meal. It is a transcendence with music falling from the ceiling onto the table and around the room of tiny lights, both colored and clear and license plates and chicken wire and burlap coffee sacks and mardi gras beads and the room is a child's I Spy book.
The waitress is good. She's got the greatest smile and the quickest of deliveries. Lin employees five people plus her husband who can certainly bus a table and talk to people.
A stranger walks by my table.
"What you got there is good." He points to the plate filled with what looks like I came hungry. (I did)
And he's right. The food is get your fingers dirty and suck on them even if people are looking.
Note the size of the shrimp and ask Lin what kind of sausage is this.
Talk to Ed, Lin's husband, a retired doctor. They've been married eleven years and have seven children and thirteen grandchildren between them. He sure as heck didn't want to go into the restaurant business but they had this old mechanic's shop on a piece of property. He knew what kind of hard work it was. His maternal grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. W.R. Hatton, had a country store where they sold hoop cheese among other things.
Just like Ed and Lin do today. In here, right there, is his grandparents' antique food scales and cheese cutter.
Two years ago Lin said about this building, "Don't tear it down, Ed. Let me store my art here. Let me create a studio."
The wood on the walls came from the home place. And, you gotta give it to Ed. Like his wife he's a hard-working person. They seem to have fun together and call their customers their friends. Lin says, "The first thing I wanted in a man was a good sense of humor, and Ed came along and we have so much fun together. I just tell him when he walks into the kitchen, 'You need to get those out to table number three.'"
They married eleven years ago.
Nine years later Lin says she was averaging one good sale a week but listened and talked with her customers to find out they wanted coffees and cakes and a nice, sweet meeting place. From there it just grew but it's not finished growing yet. What has happened here in just two years…well,
The music plays as we both smile at what she and Ed and the people who come to the table have created.
This is two words.
Perfect cup of coffee.
oh. emmm. ghee. everything.
Lin looks around the room.
Kids are smiling and running to our table. Their Mama was my waitress.
Now I am full from a meal and a dessert so good I have to buy my Mom and Dad a pie.
Those lights hanging from the ceiling are not twinkling.
It's the twinkle in Lin's eyes you see when she smiles and says again,
"I am living my make."
Everyone is an art teacher it seems.
Today I am grateful for artists and teachers and how I get to meet them.