Panting for the Brotherhood of the Broiler

I couldn’t stay away too long. Just a hop, skip and jump from my front door, I am making up for years of snubbing this joint. As the spanking new highish rises
accumulate along Columbia Pike blankly blinking their thermopanes into the sun, the Broiler looks sweeter and friendly and more human-scaled than ever.

And patinaed. Take it from me. Visually and odorously. Orange is the new orange. Orange speaks directly to tastebuds, orange juice cans with a short string between. Once you’ve eaten, screaming orange will jolt you out of your booth and onto the street, freeing a spot for the next guy.

The Broiler is guyland, punctuated occasionally by a woman or two.

I made my maiden voyage, and my sophomore Broiler encounter, with the right Tony. I know he is the right Tony because he gets the Broiler. And he gets me, at least the sandwich part, which is more than enough.

Know what? What? I like the sandwiches at the Broiler, very, very much. They do not use organic, or local, or hormone-free, or free-range. The food is far from what food was 75 years ago, before shelf life was a consideration for things that humans eat.

A lot of the food now, the food available for purchase at your average grocery store screams at us Shelf Life, as a command. Embrace the Eternal.

In between then and now, there were some golden years when we (my family of origin) went to Mary’s A&W, just on the skirts of Appleton, Wisconsin, for brats and root beers and car service. They hooked that tray onto the car window frame on the driver’s side where The Dad sat. We might have worn our pajamas over there. Sometimes on Sunday nights we would go for “a drive” and we wore pajamas, my sisters and me, not The Dad. He wore his regular clothes.

And so, what I am getting at, is that there were some years in there, the golden years, when food had a foot in each camp, the past/present and the future/present. Teetering on the fence,  we were still optimistic about the possibility of improving upon nature. We saw food as food and weren’t afraid of it yet. Those were the days. Food was food and humans had their hands in it, but not their claws, not yet.

Eating at the Broiler, I want to go to there – Mary’s A&W. Food science and optimism were not mutually exclusive. Take me back. And then take me forward. In the future, a perfect future, the Broiler still stands, the rolls are baked around the corner, the meat is from a happy cow (happyish anyway), the tomatoes are nowhere to be seen October to July, we all pay a bit more.

This is no-frills flying, people. Assuming good intent, I believe the brothers in charge at the Broiler have never taken a look at their side door, from any distance. We go by it each time we enter our neighborhood. When it comes time to sell our house, I will direct prospective buyers to take an alternate route. Gotta respect the authenticity.

A reminder to look up. Look up and take in the sky. Alexis Rockman, I hear ya. To hear him too, and see what I mean, take a look at the Rockman show hanging now at the Museum of American Art.

In the future, a perfect future, the Broiler has jack-hammered out some black top, put in trees and flowers (FLOWERS!!), and folks are spilling out into the streets, clamoring for not upscale, not low-brow, just food, food, food, plain sandwiches that deliver.  Under the clear blue sky, cows and lettuce and wheat all grow. Keep that in mind.


6 responses to “Panting for the Brotherhood of the Broiler

  1. Great post, as always. And thanks for the info on the Rockman show! Amazing work. Have to catch it.

  2. What Elizabeth said!

  3. I’m not expert on the Broiler, but the tuna sub is really good, and I had thing for the deluxe burgers for about a year. Then I was over them as quickly as I had taken to them. No biggie. I know there’s something else there I’ll enjoy just as much. Cheese steaks are big, but I don’t think that’s going to be my sandwich.
    A couple of years ago, I took a Christmas Day walk through your neighborhood and ran into the building owner, good old Irv Zetlin. He told me that the current owners of the Broiler are Palestinian (I think they are still the ones). An only-in-America thing, yeah.

  4. I didn’t know the owner of that building lived in this neighborhood. Love that building, although I wouldn’t mind if there were a few leafy things growing on it somewhere:)

  5. Well, not ON it, next to it.

  6. Rebecca Krafft

    I don’t know him well, but I’ll point him out some time. He’s unusual to say the least.

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