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Evan Hazard: Eating our way to and in Minneapolis

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Friday Nov. 22, the plan was that I follow Kandy’s emailed directions to Brian’s and her parsonage in Deerwood, pick up Kandy, and drive her to Stuart and Carol’s Twin Cities house before dark. I headed out later than expected (as usual), turned off 371 in Brainerd one stoplight sooner that I should have, and got totally lost. Pulled over, called Brian, and he said turn south and find a street sign that he could locate on the map.

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I did, but noticed that I was going south on Riverside, looked down at the Mississippi, continued to 210, and headed east. Drove through Crosby to the proper turn, which worked. That late, thought I’d best stay the night in the bed I’d be using anyway over Thanksgiving, and not leave until Saturday morning. They agreed, and we all had supper at “The Deerstand” a former Lutheran church. It has a mounted moose head at the chancel end, a mounted whitetail above the entry, and a sort of “habitat group” of whitetails in the balcony over the entry, where the choir probably once sang. We ate well. Whitetails are big in Deerwood; an oversize concrete buck downtown wears a blaze orange hunter’s cap and vest during deer season.

Saturday morning, Kandy and I avoided the frantic interstates by taking 169 to Princeton, 95 east to Cambridge, and 65 south, which becomes Central Avenue in Minneapolis. At a gas station just south of the 694 overpass at about 1 pm, we noticed cooking odors:  the sign next door said “Paradis Biryan Pointe, Indian Cuisine.”

Was it authentic?  The crowd was of all ages, with only one other pale-complexioned couple. You could order from the menu but most were doing the “weekend buffet,” presumably fancier than the M-F buffet. We found a few things hotter than ideal, but lots of good curries (chicken, lamb, and goat), tandoori chicken, veggies galore, and starchy things. Among the latter were small, innocent looking doughnuts, with a plain-seeming filling that didn’t hit until you’d already swallowed some. We each had a second plate and I decided that was my main meal of the day.

Down Central, across the river onto third Ave., and east on Franklin to Minnehaha, where we shopped at a big box, then to Stuart’s in the Longfellow neighborhood. Kandy fixed a simple supper of pork chop and peas. She took the room with the larger TV screen. We each slept well.

Off to Northeast United Methodist Church on Lowry in “Nordeast” for the 10:15 service. Didn’t get lost, but underestimated the time it would take to get there. Arrived as they were finishing the first hymn and sat in the back. Rev. Sarah Lawton noticed me from the pulpit, smiled, and gave a Kate Middleton wave; I was “home”. (Elaine and I first met Sarah at the Bemidji UMC perhaps 10 years ago. She had since had a part-time charge at Erskine and Fosston UMCs, and some four years ago been transferred to NEUMC. Near as I can tell, they love her.)

The surprise came during “joys and concerns” time. After several others, the usher gave me the mike, and I expressed greetings from Brian at Cascade UMC and from folks at BUMC, and joy at being there accompanied by Brian’s wife Kandy. As I sat down, a voice from the piano said “I know him” or some such. It was Abe Hunter, accompanist extraordinaire, who accompanied Linda Wagner back when she won the Minnesota and then the U.S.A. Ms. Senior America pageants, and also played at Elaine’s funeral. It was his second week as the pianist at NEUMC. He and their seven-person choir, by the way, made the rafters ring.

A good fraction of the congregation stayed for coffee and goodies in the basement, and then Kandy, Sarah, and I lunched at the legendary Holy Land restaurant’s middle-eastern buffet on Central and Lowry. Kandy decided to postpone the beef curry until Monday, and instead baked a mushroom quiche for supper.

(I have three kids and two daughters-in-law who are superb cooks, much of it a result of Elaine’s influence. The first time Brian brought this new girlfriend home, we had chicken curry with apples and raisins in it, a revelation to this Thief River Falls farm girl. She married him anyway.)

I had made the trip for a Monday afternoon appointment at the UM Dental Clinic; we first had an early lunch Monday at Dominguez Restaurant, a family-run Mexican spot near Stuart’s that Elaine and I discovered in summer 2009 when we cat-sat for three weeks for Natalie Griffith, who lives nearby. We didn’t see Natalie this trip because she was white-water kayaking in Nepal. The beef curry Kandy made when we got back to Stuart and Carol’s was fine.

To be continued.

EVAN HAZARD, a retired BSU biology professor, also writes “Northland Stargazing” the fourth Friday of each month.

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