Archives for posts with tag: food

There’s a huge difference between vigilant and vigilante.  Watchful.  Or “a self-appointed doer of justice” as Merriam-Webster puts it.

Superman has his super powers.  Spiderman his tingly spider-sense.  The Wolverine those rather nasty claw-like things that erupt out, slash.

Urbanspoon is my tool of justice.


I eat.  I like it.  I don’t.  Simple.  My vote joins the community of urban eaters.

It is my participation in social justice.  One that the government as far as we know does not tweak, interfere with, shut down.  Unlike some places in the world.

Imagine, a government running a covert operation in Urbanspoon.

But there are other organized entities that may, that do.  Campaigns to discredit a business competitor.  Even attempts to misinform as part of a wider strategy in exerting pressure on an organization to change its practices and positions.  Or to destroy it.

Would a restaurant mount a dastardly campaign against its rival?

We live in a techno-urban time where I have access to my Urbanspoon tool of justice.  But where I exercise vigilance is also a place where others may be exercising vigilantism.

So, when I look at what is posted on Facebook, or how the votes tally up for that restaurant in the next town, am I qualified as judge, jury, and executioner?


One of our family traditions is to again and again watch Mystery Men.  What are your super powers?  Wannabes.  Ticking time bomb of fury.  Superheroes on a mission against Casanova Frankenstein.  Evil nemesis of Captain Amazing, who comes to an untimely end in spite of being tricked out with the costume, powers and PR agent.

Watch it.  See how justice prevails through the least likely.

learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the
plead for the widow.  (Isaiah 1:17)


A few years ago the Salvation Army held its annual regional gathering, we call it ‘Congress’, in Schaumburg IL.

It is suburbs, but it is Chicago.  When you travel and people ask where are you from you don’t say ‘Schaumburg’.  You’d only get a polite uninterested ‘uh huh’.  So anyone from the Chicago suburbs with any sense says ‘Chicago’.  It sounds better than ‘Berwyn’.

During Congress part of my job was to stick close to one of our visiting dignitaries who, as often happens at these events, didn’t have a chance to eat lunch.  Busy greeting people.  A good thing, but it leaves you hungry.

Nearby the Schaumburg Convention Center he had spotted a place advertising Chicago hot dogs.  He asked if we could go there.  We did.  He got a hot dog.  He was happy.  I had done my job.

Tonight I remembered that hot dog and we visited Frankly Yours.  It’s at the corner of Algonquin and Thorntree Lane, just east of Meacham.

Frankly Yours

A nice warm evening.  We sat outside at one of the tables.  Serenaded by going-home traffic along Algonquin.  Bathed in the evening sun and wafting zephyrs.

Frankly Yours 4

Why hadn’t we stopped before?  The fries are hand-cut and [rant warning] do not have that awful coating so many places use.  Someone’s told me it’s cornstarch with whatever else the fry cook/restaurant chain thinks is a good idea.  It’s not.

Frankly Yours was good.  Hard to get to the hot dog while the fries are hot, crisp.  The sun’s shining.  Warm breezes.  Vehicles hum along the street.  This is a good moment in America.

Frankly Yours 5

Hidden by the styrofoam cup are her fried mushrooms.  They were okay.  But the fries.  And the hot dogs … the way they were meant to be.  And Coke is served here.  It’s taken me years to realize that Coke rules.  Pepsi drools.

I brought our trays inside, discarded the cups and wrappers.  An old guy was sitting in a booth near the door.  The boss.  I thanked him, told him the hot dogs were great.  He grinned and said of course they’re Vienna.

Of course.  Vienna Red Hots.  With neon relish.  Red tomato slices.  Yellow mustard.   A piece of art.

Frankly Yours 2





Our son Matt claims Gene and Jude’s as his favorite out in these parts.  He might be right.  I know that when we are in the city we gravitate to Byron’s on Irving Park, close to Sheridan.  But I rate Frankly Yours fries superior.  Sorry, Byron.

A quick drive up I-75, on M-24 past the Palace in Auburn Hills,  east on Burdick in Oxford.  Sunday morning worship with a couple hundred teens, young adults, leaders at Echo Grove Camp.  Morning over.  But lunch before the travel home to Chicago.

I was going to order the broiled salmon.  Vegetables.  Healthy.  I do like salmon.

But when Gail ordered a hamburger for lunch, I crumbled.  I looked with pleading eyes to the waitress.  Two coneys?  Yes, with onions.  How can you eat a coney without onions.  I was totally reckless.  You want fries with that?  My better self intervened.  Vegetable soup.

The soup was great.

Then came the coneys.

I am certain the frankfurters are Michigan's best, Koegel's. Just remembering is making my mouth water. I can't stand it.

I am certain the frankfurters are Michigan’s best, Koegel’s. Just remembering is making my mouth water. I can’t stand it.

You see, don’t you, how Gail’s cheeseburger pales in comparison to the coney dog’s mouth-watering construction.  The crisp snap of the frankfurter skin.  Slightly toasted inner surface of the bun.  Finely chopped white onion that has just a tad of fire to it.  Coney sauce ala Detroit, not the version served in nearby Flint.  My friend Jeff would question why Detroit style coney islands are served just miles from Flint which in his estimation is superior.  But Jeff is a fanatic of anything Flint.  GM and so on.  Who can say?

You can also see my preference.  A modest run of mustard beading the top of the sauce.  I was very pleased that my coneys were served HOT.

On the way out of Honeytree I grabbed a peppermint.  It was a long drive home.  The peppermint mitigated what you might expect from anything served with onions.

My hometown, Duluth MN, has it’s own coney version.  Detroit?  Flint?  Duluth?  Hard to say which I would prefer.  I take this as a sure sign of my sophisticated cosmopolitan ways.

For sure, coney dogs are comfort food.  Comfort food for gritty urban life.  Granted, one needs to guard from excess to keep it in the comfort range.

Chicago’s equivalent?  Nah, not the pizza.

Jim’s on Maxwell Street.  Grilled polish sausage.  And for our family what was a special Sunday night treat after a late choir rehearsal:  the grilled pork chop sandwich.  Sizzling hot with a bone you had to eat around.  Plenty of grilled rings of onions slathered on top the chop between two barely holding together slices of white bread.  A sloppy satisfying mess on a Chicago winter’s night.

Jim’s.  The place where sheets of plastic visqueen hung down to keep the wind out.  Guys from off the street.  Bulls players from the nearby Chicago Stadium.  Anybody could and would be there.  Pork chop sandwiches.  Polish.  Community?  Uh, yeah.  More like a gathering of people late on a cold night who had no better place to go for some sign that humanity existed.

Jim’s no longer is on Maxwell Street.  Something to do with an expanded University of Illinois at Chicago.  Sad.

Additional note:  our oldest grandson shares my enthusiasm for coneys.  Though he does prefer cheese on his.  He’s young.

I have been feeling lazy lately.  Still euphoric that the term is over and I am no longer a slave every evening and bit of free time to homework and reading.  It feels good.  I feel lazy.

I am also pleasingly full tonight in the Twin Cities.  It is Friday night, and I ate at a Japanese restaurant just as I did last Friday in Appleton WI where we were visiting our youngest son.  In fact, in the past month I’ve also had food at Japanese eateries in Chicago and Duluth MN.

How different this era is from when I was a boy.  Japanese food then was not to be found anywhere but in the largest American cities.  Now, Duluth and Appleton.  And even in Litchfield IL where a few months ago I saw Sakura Hibachi Sushi.


Here’s another thing.  I found Oishi via the internet.  Arrived in Brooklyn Center, googled area restaurants and read the reviews.  voila.

We live in a techno-urban world.  Our cities are more diverse.  We have the tools that give access to that diversity.  drat.  I could have taken a photo to post for you to see the generous bento box $12.99 bought.   Not fantastic, but decent food.


Tonight I didn’t have to eat at McDonald’s.  Chopsticks for tonkatsu and tempura and sushi and teriyaki and gyoza and …

Sometimes new things can happen in places only when the old things have passed away.

Katherine Yung writes in the Detroit Free Press of Charter One Bank’s initiative to offer support to Detroit’s growing urban farming movement.  $100,000 will be awarded to farmers and vendors through Charter One’s Growing Communities program to “expand local food sources in Detroit”.  In Motown.

Connections between Detroit and automobiles yet exist.  But the American auto is no longer tied to the Motor City’s well-being.  American cars are now made in places like Indiana and Europe.  Detroit auto factories are now empty, abandoned, crumbling.  Detroit’s relationship with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler today is like that of an ex who receives some alimony, remembers some good years.

An almost half century urban nightmare began as American industry and business left Detroit.  Another beginning is now taking place.  Not only in Detroit but in other American cities where innovators and entrepreneurs are placing gardens.

I remember seeing other gardens in the backyards of our Detroit Temple Corps neighbors.  One Sunday evening the corps took a walk down our streets, visiting and praying with households.  Behind his house one old man was growing a luxuriant vegetable garden.  Cabbages, string beans, greens, tomatoes.  We admired.  He straightened up a bit more.   We asked if we could pray for his garden.  All of us bowed our heads.

A garden in the city.  We read in Revelation that in the world to come there will be a garden in the city.  Those who now make gardens in Detroit and Philadelphia and in any of America’s abandoned urban places may be giving us a glimpse on earth as it is in heaven.

Last summer our daughter Kirsten served as a trainee with Majors Bob and Collette Webster at the Kroc Center in South Bend IN.

Kirsten wrote at that time –

The Kroc Center here in South Bend has a Unity Garden.  It is part of a community initiative to make sure everyone has access to fresh vegetables, as well as educating everyone about how to grow this food.  I spoke with a volunteer on Saturday about her Unity garden- she said last year they had to replant the garden because the whole first crop died- the learning curve.  Education about fresh vegetables is critical in this community to help people access the food available growing from the ground 🙂  And it is provided by this initiative.


Here’s specific mention of the Salvation Army’s partnering with Unity Gardens.  Scroll down and you’ll see a couple photos of work on the Army’s garden (sorry, I couldn’t post them here).

Good investment in the community, and a nice collaborative arrangement!


A very wise word from the current email letter of Evangelicals for Social Action –

Holistic Ministry
The Holy Meal
by David Michaux

Ever wonder why events go so much better with food involved? A $15 lunch ticket, a $3 bottle of sparkling cider, or even a 99-cent cup of coffee can turn a potentially awkward situation into one easily managed, an acquaintance into a friend, or an enemy into a neighbor. Imagine the impact in your church! Say you want to reach out to the atheist, the gay man, or the [insert hurt demographic here] on your street. Try taking him to lunch. Something happens around the table: We shed our stereotypes and become simply human. And this is where healing can begin. Maybe that is why one of Jesus’ most oft-remembered events is a shared meal.

Send an email to the Holistic Ministry editor.
Check out more holistic ministry at the Word & Deed Network.


Have you noticed the subtle inroads Flaming Hot Cheetos have made into American life?

They were coming into their own as a snack food in Detroit as the 21st century came into sight.  But if we wanted to find a sack for our daughter, the one who is a Salvation Army cadet … nowhere in the suburbs.  You know what I’m talking about.  Krogers?  Seven-Eleven?  BP food shops?  nope.

Except for a Shell service station down the road from the high school.  But it seemed to make sense to find Flaming Hots there.  The people who ran the shop were from another land, literally, and along with many of the shops in Detroit also run by people of other lands I knew that our Oakland County Shell shop manager was an in-the-know trend-setter.

Are Flaming Hots now becoming ubiquitous because –

  1. urban culture and tastes have influenced suburban life, or
  2. city dwellers have moved to the suburbs, bringing their urban taste for the spicy fried treats?

Music, fashion, language, food, worldviews, and people, migrate from the city to non-city places.  But do “non-city” places exist any longer?  The lines are blurred between city and suburbs as never before.  If a city person moves to the country, does this movement urbanize that place?  or is the urban person countrified?

ProximityOne offers a comparison of American urban populations 2000 and 2010.  Here’s a link.  One interesting observation:  the number of urban Americans has increased, but the urban population decreased.   Why?  Changes in definitions and criteria.   For what reasons?  The ProximityOne page doesn’t make the answer clear.

The next question?

Does eating Flaming Hot Cheetos make a person urban?

If you don’t know much about Flaming Hots here’s a link you may find helpful, but don’t believe everything you read.

Today was a good day for a bowl of wonton soup at Penny’s Noodle Shop in Lakeview.

Penny’s is a little shop wedged on the corner of Roscoe and Sheffield underneath the Brown Line. It has been one of our favorites since the 90s, and of the five Chicagoland locations this one is best.  The CTA rattles overhead.  The artwork inside, the kitchen at work right there in front of you, even the radio station music all contribute to making it in my opinion a comfortable and comforting spot.  Especially today.  It’s finally beginning to feel like winter in Chicago.

I barely needed to order the soup.  ‘Need a menu?’  The waitress knows me and knows that I am likely to order the wonton soup, with noodles, in cold weather.  Summertime, I tend to get the chilled Sesame Beef Noodle. 

I order noodles as an extra to fill me up.  She did make one mistake:  she brought iced tea.  I know why.  That’s Gail’s beverage.  Me, just water.  She laughed at her error and glided away with the glass for the man sitting over there.  He expressed how much he was enjoying his noodles with a baritone belch.  He emptied the tea.

My soup arrives.  It is a five course meal in a bowl.  I began with the steaming broth, then moved to some of the vermicelli noodles.  Next, Chinese greens.  Now, a few pieces of the tender barbecued pork.  Then, the dumplings aka wontons.  They tend to be hottest so it’s wise to wait before tackling one of the four in the bowl.  Finally, alternating between all five, sometimes a morsel of greens with a slice of pork.  More broth.  Noodles.  Dumpling.  I am conducting a symphony.

The finale ends.  The bowl is empty.

The check:  $7.15.

Years ago friends told us we were spoiled.   Pizza Hut will work, they said, when you don’t have the kind of choices a city like Chicago offers.  Chicago pizza is legend, there’s a lot of it, and almost always it’s wonderful.  I’ve enjoyed Pizza Hut, too.  But eating in the city with all its diversity and many choices is great.  One of the perks of being in an urban place.


Yesterday I ate at Cafe Juniper.

Cafe Juniper is operated by the Mayfair Community Church of The Salvation Army, located 5020 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago.  It just opened this year, Monday through Saturday offering noon Japanese/Korean lunch buffet as well as dinner time menu service.

Major Ho Chang, corps officer at Mayfair, joined me for lunch.  We chose maki sushi, natto, gyoza, noodles, and curry among other items.  A very nice lunch.  I had green tea, the Major a can of soda.  While I was there probably three to four dozen diners came through the line.  Major Mark Turner of the divisional headquarters right next door showed up, so we had a good fellowship at our table.

Cost?  Sorry, I was the Major’s guest.  But it seems quite reasonable.  The dining room is quiet, clean, inviting.  Almost all diners were Asian.  Many seemed to meet groups of friends and the atmosphere was pleasantly social.  I appreciated the fresh wasabi and pickled ginger for the sushi.  I passed on the kimchi this time as a courtesy to my dentist I visited later that afternoon.

I recommend a visit to Cafe Juniper.  Oishii.

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