Wednesday, July 4, 2007

From Merced

We are now in Merced CA, in the heart of the Central Valley. Again, I am amazed at the variation in terrain and climate. What a country. I love America.

We are here visiting Tom and Sandy. Tom and Sandy are parents of Wendy, our good friend from Green Bay. It has been several years since we have seen them and it is as good as always, as they are wonderfully wise and generous people. Just hanging out with them is a joy and a blessing. Wendy and Ron are our bestest friends in GB (and probably anywhere actually), and it has been years since we have seen them also. This is about as close as we have been to them in some time. In fact, we understand that they will actually be here in a few weeks. We'll have to leave some secret messages hidden for them.

This morning we got the tour of Merced and Atwater, including Wendy's high school, the houses of the boys she used to date, and detailed descriptions of her teenage life. It was all most enlightening, and it really explains so much that has puzzled us for years. ;-)

We were privileged to attend the Atwater July 4 parade. It is the same parade that is taking place across America today. The marchers change, the names on the floats change, the length of the parade may be shorter here and longer there, but it is the same parade. It's a great reminder that ultimately America is not Washington DC. It is here, it is your neighbor and my neighbor, the farmer, the insurance guy, the businesses and churches and clubs that populate our towns. Is it boring? I suppose as an event, as entertainment it is not the most exciting thing ever. I view it more as a ritual, and expression of community and democracy and life in a great county, a life of abundance and freedom and responsibility and community. This is not my community, but it is like my community and I felt right at home watching this parade and enjoyed knowing that it is still my parade.

The highlight of the day (so far -- it ain't over yet) was eating at In 'N Out Burgers. Ron grew up in CA, and has at various times extolled the virtues of numerous eating estblishments common to the west coast -- Jack in the Box, Del Taco, and Carl's Jr. among others. Perhaps the highest praise, the most esteemed location in Ron's gustatory pantheon is reserved for In 'N Out Burgers. To drive by, one might simply chalk it up to another fast food place, but not so. Oh no.

The menu is elegantly simple. Burgers. Fries. Soft drinks. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing. This alone sets them the owners apart as geniuses.

The burgers come in three varieties only; Double, Cheesburger, Hamburger. Therefore, there are only three combos available. Each burger is cooked to order. The fries are cut from fresh potatoes (from Maine!), cut and then fried "in oil free from trans-fats since 1948." This somewhat ambiguous grammatic construction does make me wonder if they change the oil periodically, but I decided not to worry about it. Some things just are better left unknown. Underneath the each soda cup is the reference to a bible verse. This may be good or bad depending on your perspective. It reminds us of Chik-fil-A, another offbeat fast food venue which we thought offers uncommonly good food. The burgers are good sized and well-built, hot and delicious. The fries are real potatoes and really yummy.
And so, we experience yet another important slice of California culture. There is so much to eat, and so little time. I am not a food snob. I love good food in all forms; fast, slow or even sitting still. I thought this was terrific. Thanks Ron!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are welcome! I am amazed at your memory, but while I am sure to have mentioned Jack in the Box (I have a few stories to tell of adventures in JB), I am not sure I would give a good review of their food. Ron Jung