It’s still dark outside as I weigh my flour. The light of the digital display on my kitchen scale glows blue and casts shadows across the mound of all-purpose and whole wheat flour in a glass bowl. I hold a meat thermometer under a stream of running water, adjusting the faucet handle by degrees in search of the perfect temperature before filling my Pyrex measuring cup and mixing the water with the flour to form a thick paste. Then, there’s time to relax while the flour absorbs the moisture, before salt and yeast are added and these simple ingredients are transformed into something altogether different.
There is waiting. There is checking, peering under the lid to see if anything has changed. There are moments to reach in and pull and fold sticky dough, then to step back and let it rest again. Unlike nearly everything else, there are no shortcuts, no way to speed up the process. Baking bread forces you to slow down and move at the pace of very small things. The yeast does not care what time it is nor what else I may have planned.
By mid-afternoon, my dough has evolved. It has structure now and bubbles of gas pressing against its skin. I lift it out of the bowl and shape it with floured hands, then place it in a floured basket and cover it again for one last rise.
I preheat the oven, knowing that it will take a long time to get up to temperature. A Dutch oven warms up inside. Then, a burst of movement, getting a perfectly proofed loaf out of its basket and into the Dutch oven without burning myself and getting it back into the oven before the moment passes.
There is something special about baking the first bread of the new year. I’m not sure why it is, maybe it’s the closeness of working in the kitchen while it’s dark outside, or perhaps it’s the stillness that descends after the holidays. Sure, there’s a recipe to follow and ratios to adhere to, but a good bake comes down to more than checking off the steps in a list. It’s about instinct, intuition, and a pinch of luck.
When the bread emerges, it has developed a dark brown crust that crackles under my fingertips. It sounds hollow when tapped. The whole house smells like baking bread. And has the winter sun fades, I cut into the loaf to enjoy the first warm slice with butter.
It had been a long time since I’d made bread. It’s an investment of time—a whole day at least, and sometimes several. I’m not an expert by any means, but when I devote the energy to bread, I’m reminded of why I like making it in the first place. It’s satisfying to make something from scratch, to know I’m drawing on techniques that go back generations and connect me to bread-makers stretching back over 14,000 years.
Most of all, when I practice my bread making, I am reminded that good things take time and care. And that the time is worth it.
The city of Philadelphia is well-known as the place where delegates from the American colonies set forth a document declaring their independence from Great Britain and their plan to engage in treasonous revolt against King George III. The city is absolutely brimming with historic sites, world-class art, and amazing food, but for me, the moment that hit me the hardest wasn’t seeing George Washington’s copy of the U.S. Constitution or looking out over downtown from the Rocky Steps — it was when I stood in front of the house where I was born. There, in front of a modest stone colonial home in a quiet, tree-lined suburban street, personal and global history collided.
Making the trip back to Philadelphia, where it all began, has been on my list for a while. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to remind us of the things we meant to do. When my uncle passed away in early October, I knew I needed to be there for his memorial. Not just to see my aunt, but to reconnect with a place that had always hung on the periphery of my life story.
When I touched down in Philadelphia for the first time in 25 years, it was with a certain weight of expectation. I was also traveling solo for the first time in years, adding to the sense of being a fish out of water or a prodigal son returning home from many years in a foreign land.
Like any self-respecting tourist arriving in the City of Brotherly Love for the first time, I knew my first order of business was to seek out a proper cheesesteak. Now, there are as many opinions as to what constitutes a true Philly cheesesteak as there are cheesesteak joints scattered throughout the city. Some claim it only counts if the sandwich includes Cheese Wiz. Others argue that you have to go to one of the original shops, Pat’s or Geno’s, to get an authentic version. I’m not a traditionalist, so I did some Googling and found a sandwich that looked good to me. From the airport, I made a beeline to Philip’s Steaks in South Philly and ordered an Old Fashioned: steak, provolone, grilled onions, and hot peppers. It was heaven on a roll.
The next day I had blocked out to see everything I could conceivably fit in around downtown Philly. I parked my rental car in an underground garage near city hall and hoofed it on foot. That day, I covered 11 miles, starting with a walk to Independence Hall, where I took the guided tour and learned a lot about the history of the founding of our nation. From there, I wandered through some of the old cobblestone streets which remain from the colonial days, passing by the Liberty Bell and the modest grave of Benjamin Franklin along the way.
After absorbing all that history, I’d worked up an appetite. Philadelphia may not be as famous as its cousin metro to the north, but let me assure you that it is every bit New York’s equal when it comes to the quality and variety of its food scene. Eating is simply part of the culture here and if you’re gonna eat, the food may as well be good. For lunch, I wandered the stalls at Reading Terminal Market, a train station turned indoor bazaar, sampling cannoli and soft pretzels until I was stuffed.
From the market, I along the wide boulevard that cuts a diagonal northwest from city center to the Schuylkill River, past fountains and monuments and bronzes to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where a Sylvester Stallone impersonator was posing with tourists for a few dollars a photo. From there, the city lay before me like a glittering jewel. And though my feet ached, I found myself feeling homesick for a life I never lived.
I have no memories of living in Philadelphia. And yet, I choked up when I walked by our old house in Drexel Hill. In Emily St. John Mandel’s novel The Glass Hotel, one of the characters imagines a “counter-life” where he made different choices and watches his life go in a very different direction. Walking through the neighborhood, I could imagine another me going to school here, learning to drive on these winding roads, getting takeout from Pizza Odyssey. I don’t regret the choices that led our family to the West and brought me all the way across the country from the place of my birth — my life is incredible — but I could not help but wonder who this other Jonny would have become if he had charted a different course.
I had dinner with my Aunt Wendy, seeing her for the first time since my wedding. After dinner, she gave me a paper bag bursting with family photos and documents, a treasure trove of stories from my past, and entrusted them to me to care for. For the rest of the night in my hotel room, I laid out old photographs on the bed and tried to decipher who was in each one, how they were related to me, and what I could learn about them.
The next day was the memorial, where friends and family swapped stories of my Uncle Jim; about his time in the Marines, about his love of rock music, practical jokes, and Ferraris. We laid him to rest in the cemetery where generations of Eberles are buried, and I went to eat pancakes with cousins I never knew I had.
That afternoon, with dappled sunlight pouring through autumn leaves and less than an hour before I had to be at the airport, I stopped at a small park next to a creek near our old house. There, preserved in a small clearing, is a cabin. It is believed to be the oldest remaining log cabin of its kind in North America. No one knows who built it, only that they were likely Swedish settlers who arrived before the English in the 1630s. Their story is lost to history, but their rough, two-room home stands as a testament that they were here. They lived. They were a part of this place. We all have our time, and when we go, we don’t leave much behind except for boxes of photos, old passports, and maybe one or two good stories as proof that we, too, were here.
This was more than a quick trip Back East. It was a chance to catch some of those memories before they are lost. To reconnect to roots that go back three hundred years in this soil. To know a little more about my story.
So, look out, Philly, because I’ll be back for more.
Philadelphia Travel Tips
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Getting There: Easily accessible by plane, train, or automobile. The airport is located just a few miles south of the city. I rented a car because I needed to get out to the ‘burbs, but there’s also 280 miles of commuter rail service throughout the Greater Philadelphia area if you’re not into heavy traffic and parking headaches.
What to See: Center City is walkable, but I’d recommend spreading your sightseeing out over a couple of days to avoid the blisters I incurred attempting to do it all in a single day. If you’re into history, be sure to check out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (note that reservations are required for the Independence Hall tour and you should arrive early to get through security). After that, walk over to Elphreth’s Alley, one of the oldest and best preserved streets in the city, passing the grave of Benjamin and Deborah Franklin on your way. Further south, you’ll find the historic William Still House, where the abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor William Still helped hundreds of people escape from slavery.
What to Eat: You can’t go wrong at the historic Terminal Reading Market, a public market with stands selling everything from roast pork to sushi. I highly recommend a cannoli from Termini Bros. and an Amish-style soft pretzel from Miller’s Twist. In addition to its famous cheesesteak, Philadelphia is also teeming with incredible Italian food.
What to Drink: The cocktails at Prunella are outstanding. There’s a great view of the restaurant’s blazing pizza oven from the marble-top bar.
Welcome to part two of my four-part series about our 2019 adventure through South America. In this week’s blog: Mendoza, Argentina.
When we started planning our trip to South America, one of the first places we wanted to go was Mendoza. This high-altitude valley nestled in the foothills of the Andes is world renowned for its incredible wines, and we knew he had to try some from the source.
We arrived on a warm day in spring, which left us scrambling to pack away our coats and dig out our sunglasses from our carry-ons. The mountains were partially obscured by a haze of dust and as our taxi drove us south from the airport, through the city of Mendoza, and into the surrounding towns, it was hard not to feel like we can somehow landed in Central California.
We were also anxious to relax a little and slow down after a whirlwind week in Buenos Aires. Arriving in late afternoon in the little town of Chacras de Coria, we enjoyed a glass of Malbec, dinner at the hotel restaurant, and a dip in the pool before turning in for the night. The next day was going to be a long one.
Our itinerary only gave us one full day in Mendoza, which was definitely not enough. But the next morning after breakfast, we hopped on a pair of rented bikes and set out to explore. The town quickly gave way to rows of grape vines just starting to put out their leaves and the sun beat down on us.
We had a rough idea of where we were going. We figured that if we could maintain a leisurely but steady pace, we could visit three or four wineries and be back at our hotel for dinner. Naturally, it didn’t go according to plan.
Our first stop was at Alta Vista, a vineyard located just twenty minutes’ ride from our hotel in the Luján de Cuyo district, one of the most prolific wine-growing regions in the entire country. At Alta Vista, we caught our breath, had our first tour and wine tasting, and chatted with a friendly group of American college students who were spending a semester in Argentina. It was everything we hoped it would be.
And then, things went off track.
Soon after departing from Alta Vista, we got lost. Our paper map wasn’t all that accurate, it turned out, and we weren’t sure if the winery where we planned to have lunch was farther down the road or if we’d already missed it.
Hungry, tired, and more than a little flustered, we arrived at our destination late, only to discover that there had been a miscommunication with the front desk clerk at our hotel—we didn’t have a reservation and the restaurant was completely booked.
As much as we’d like to pretend on Instagram that international travel is always glamorous and carefree, the truth is that something always goes wrong. There are language barriers, missed turns, bike rides that you think will take you 25 minutes but end up taking over an hour, sore muscles, grumbling stomachs, and frayed nerves. The reality is, sometimes things don’t go your way and there’s no way to fix it. All you can do is carry on to the next thing and try not to let it ruin your day.
So that’s what we did.
We got back on our bikes and struck out for the next bodega on our list. A few miles later, we parked our bikes outside Viamonte. We were exhausted, we were starving, and we were sweaty. But the host kindly showed us to a table on the patio and handed us menus.
In my memory, that lunch was one of the finest meals we enjoyed in South America: grilled provolone cheese topped with fresh greens and tomato, followed by a seared ribeye. Once we had our strength back, we took a guided, personal tour of the small winery and finished up with a tasting.
It was late when we pedaled back into Chacras de Coria and the sun was setting over the mountains, finally giving us a break from the heat. We were covered in dust and somewhat dreading the next day when we would be traveling for twelve hours.
We could’ve used a relaxing day by the pool, or a few more days to explore the wineries to our north (one of whom, it was rumored, kept a llama on staff). But we’d have to be content with just a sip of what Mendoza had to offer before moving on.
Mendoza Travel Tips
Where: Mendoza, Argentina
Getting There: Mendoza is an easy two-hour flight from Buenos Aires or one hour from Santiago, Chile, with a stunning flight over the towering Andes Mountains.
Where to Stay: We chose to skip the city and instead stay close to where the wine is made. We ended up in the small town of Chacras de Coria. Our hotel, Lares de Chacras, had its own wine cellar and onsite restaurant. They arranged our airport transportation and even helped us rent bikes to tour the area.
How to Get Around: The wine-growing regions around Mendoza are expansive, so you’ll want some wheels. There are many companies that operate wine tours or offer cars for hire, but we chose to explore the nearby wineries by bicycle. The valley is relatively flat, but there are few bike lanes and even fewer street signs, so plan your route in advance or splurge for international cellular data for turn-by-turn directions.
What to Drink: Mendoza is world famous for Malbec, my personal favorite wine. Every winery makes it, but in recent years, they’ve expanded their repertoire to include Tempranillo, dry rosés, and Torrontés, a phenomenal white wine that’s only made in Argentina.
What to Eat: If you can snag a reservation, have lunch and a glass of wine at one of the wineries while you look over the vineyards. This is still Argentina, so you can’t go wrong with a cut of beef. To satisfy your sweet tooth, nothing beats a dulce de leche crepe.
Today, I’m kicking off a series of blogs about my travels in South America way back in 2019. One of things I miss the most about the before times is the ease of global travel. If you’re like me and wish you could hop a jet to an interesting city without a care in the world, please fasten your seatbelt, make sure your seat is in the full, upright position, and read on…
Traveling to South America is like meeting a long-lost cousin. So much is familiar and yet life circumstances have molded you into wildly different people. In the fall of 2019, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, my globetrotting partner and I embarked on our biggest adventure yet — a two week sojourn across the equator to Argentina and Chile.
You have to really want to go to South America to consider making the trek. The trip from Seattle is long and arduous, requiring us to change planes in Los Angeles and again in Santiago, spending nearly 24 hours in transit and covering a total distance of over 7,000 miles. Needless to say, a weekend jaunt is out of the question. When we decided to go, we hoarded our vacation days, packed our suitcases to bursting, and filled our itinerary to make sure we didn’t waste a moment of the experience.
Buenos Aires is massive, vibrant, and a little overwhelming. Picture New York mixed with Paris: stately old buildings and wide avenues in some areas, narrow streets, nightclubs, and street vendors in another. We gave ourselves three and a half days to explore BA and while we hit a lot of the highlights, we could’ve easily spent a week or more in this amazing city.
Sprawling along the wide mouth of the Rio de la Plata as it empties into the South Atlantic, Buenos Aires was founded five hundred years ago by Spanish conquistadors who named the settlement after the fair winds that blew in off the ocean. While the official language is still Spanish, this cosmopolitan city is a melting pot, home to people with roots all over the world, including the largest Jewish community in Latin America. As a result, Buenos Aires is beautifully diverse and enjoys world-class cuisine, art, architecture, and music.
Buenos Aires is built for exploration. Around every corner and down every side street you’re likely to find a charming cafe, a cozy bookstore, a stunning mural, or a piece of Argentine history waiting to be found. The city’s famous Recoleta Cemetery is a maze of mausoleums filled with artists, revolutionaries, and historic figures — including the famous Eva Perón — stashed in the middle of a district of glitzy shopping malls and expensive apartment buildings. Street performers dance the tango and rooftop lookouts offer stunning views of the metropolis.
At the end of each day, we were exhausted from walking and from putting our incredibly broken Spanish to use navigating BA’s labyrinthine streets, even as the city woke up around us, ready to party until the sun came up.
We enjoyed wandering through the city’s famous bookstores, experiencing the incredible acoustics of Teatro Colón, and of course, eating and drinking our way from one incredible meal to another. Without a doubt, this is a city with an appetite for amazing food. To say we ate well is a understatement. We were blown away by the quality and variety of everything we tried, whether it was a crispy fried empanada, a glass or three of the country’s famous Malbec red wine, a succulent cut of steak fresh off the parilla, or the most perfect grilled artichoke that I have ever tasted, we ended each day in our hotel completely stuffed.
At the heart of Buenos Aires is its people. Porteños, or people of the port, are a warm and hospitable group, able to blend old and new. It is a hard-scrabble place built by immigrants that is constantly evolving into something new. That ability to embrace change and to never stand still for too long, seems to be part of the core identity of Buenos Aires.
As our plane turned east and the city gave way to the endless grasslands and ranches of the Pampas, our suitcases packed with souvenirs and alfajores (Argentina’s signature dulce de leche filled cookie), I knew I would be back someday. Until then, there was still so much to see and do elsewhere on the continent.
Buenos Aires Travel Tips
Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Where to Stay: The twin neighborhoods of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are jam-packed with small, boutique hotels and a wealth of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops and are just a couple of subway stops from the city center. We stayed at the Hotel Duque. It was simple, but had all the essentials, plus they coordinated our airport pickup, which was a lifesaver.
Know the Language: While many people speak a little English, it is essential that you learn some basic Spanish. The Argentine dialect is unique, so bring a phrasebook that’s specific to the region (for instance, the double L makes a “sh” sound instead of a “y” sound down here).
How to Get Around: You can experience most of BA on foot, but the city is massive, so take the Subte (subway) to an area you want to explore and then hoof it from there. The Subte doesn’t run late, so have a backup transportation plan if you find yourself far from your home base after 10 or 11 pm. We found that limiting ourselves to seeing one or two adjacent neighborhoods per day was doable.
Where to Go Dancing: Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, so find somewhere to go dancing at least once. We enjoyed going to La Viruta because it was casual, an easy walk from our hotel, and offered lessons before the open dance session, but you’ll find milongas scattered throughout the city.
What to Eat: Everything. Definitely fill up on steak at Don Julio (and arrive early to get a table), but know that Argentine chefs do heavenly things with vegetables, too. Make time to hit up Chori to try BA’s quintessential sandwich, the choripan.
My newest short story, “The Cannibals of Kitsap,” was just published in this week’s Creative Colloquy. It has everything you could ever want — fourth grade intrigue, food that isn’t what it appears to be, and of course, cannibalism in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t want to give too much away, but I do want to encourage you to read it. I hope you enjoy it.
I’m humbled to be published alongside Nick Stillman, L. Lisa Lawrence, and Lawander Thompson. You should definitely check out their stories after you’ve read mine. I’m thrilled to have my fiction appear on Creative Colloquy’s website once more. CC is a Tacoma-based literary website that publishes South Sound writers and hosts a super fun live reading and open mic night once a month at B Sharp Cafe in Tacoma’s Theatre District. This month, I’ll be reading “The Cannibals of Kitsap” as one of the featured readers on Monday, April 27 at 7pm. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Thanks for reading!
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His previous short story, The Observable Universe, was published by Creative Colloquy in July 2014. He is currently looking for a theatre company to stage his full-length play, Worm Food. You can find him on the Twitter.
Halfway between Flagstaff and Las Vegas and the highway is empty except for a few lonely semis hauling west. I’m racing freight trains across the wide expanses of the American Southwest, thousands of miles from the nearest pilgrim, and I just want to be at my parents’ house.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that pulls us home, no matter how far away our family may be. We feel the ties of blood draw us together, if only for one meal. And as I drive through fields of tall, dead wildflower stems, I can’t help but fantasize about what lies ahead. Mountains of mashed potatoes, piles of green bean casserole, mounds of stuffing balls, slices of smoked turkey smothered in gravy. Cranberry sauce. So much cranberry sauce.
Still, it’s not just about the food. It’s the people, the chaos of preparation, the exhaustion after the meal when we all lay on the floor, slowly digesting like gorged snakes. It’s the craziness of a family who’s just as crazy as you are. It’s the feeling of being home — made that much more satisfying when your family is 250 miles away and you don’t get to see them often enough. And that feeling, well, that’s even better than cranberry sauce.
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You know what I like even more than cranberry sauce? Twitter. Okay, maybe it’s a tie. If you eat cranberry sauce while tweeting, please follow me at @jonnyeberle.
Heat ripples through the air. Ash is carried on the breeze, where it tumbles off like fall leaves. The barrel rolls over hot coals and inside the cage, bright green New Mexican hatch chiles char slowly. Their flesh blackens, toughens. Spice stings my nostrils and lingers around my head. Steamy Ziploc bags. Five dollars a piece for the last smoky taste of summer.
A woman buys two bags. She unzips them in her car and breathes chile to remind her of what she left behind on a dirt road so long ago.
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Please let me know what you think in the comments and follow me on the Twitter machine: @jonnyeberle.
Bachelors are not generally known for their prowess in the kitchen. We are connoisseurs of pizza, frozen chicken pot pie gurus and serial spaghetti eaters. We skip breakfast, eat fast food for lunch and are willing to substitute ice cream for any meal of the day. We live by a code: When in doubt, eat out. This reputation is well-earned and I must confess that I’ve contributed to the stereotype. But I’m really trying to break out of the pack. Yesterday, I even made myself a salad.
When I was in school, I had a good excuse for not eating well. I was busy, running off to class or one of my three jobs. But now, I have time to cook. I really do like cooking, it’s just hard to get back into the habit. This week, it all changes. Goodbye, store-bought junk; hello, homemade deliciousness.
I enjoy cooking because it’s like eating for an extended period of time without getting a stomach ache. You’re constantly shrouded in the smell of whatever’s sizzling on the stove, perpetually tasting your creation. It’s bliss for the senses.
Still, the really great thing about cooking is that it’s similar enough to the writing process to make an adequate metaphor. Like any creative endeavor, you start with a rough idea of what you want to make — a sketch, an outline, a recipe — and tweak it with a little word choice here and a little ground black pepper there until you’re satisfied. Invariably, the end result is not what you thought it would be when you started out, but that’s the beauty of creativity. It creates itself as much as you create it. And did I mention you get to eat it?
So, when I cook, I sometimes pretend I’m composing a story with ingredients instead of characters. And yes, it’s also an excuse to sing along to Pandora and play with fire. Cooking is equal parts experience, experimentation and luck. Maybe that’s what I really like about it. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I get to eat my masterpiece when it’s done.
Yeah, it’s probably the latter.
As an added bonus, I’ve decided to throw in my family’s age old secret recipe for enchiladas. Bon appétit!
3-4 tomatoes on the vine
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1-2 sorano peppers
12-14 small corn tortillas
16 oz. shredded Mexican 4-cheese blend
Cilantro, onion and garlic to taste
Optional: Shredded chicken
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Warm tortillas on griddle until flexible; keep warm in a tortilla warmer.
Boil tomatoes and sorano peppers until the skin of the tomatoes starts peeling.
Sauté diced onion and garlic until brown.
Blend a handful of cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, can of tomato sauce, onion, and garlic until smooth.
Pour some of the sauce into a glass casserole dish to cover the bottom. Fill tortillas with cheese and/or shredded chicken, fold in half and place in dish. Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes (until the cheese on top melts). Makes 12-14 enchiladas.
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The USDA recommends that you get 3-5 servings of vegetables and 4-6 servings of my tweets per day. I can’t help you with the broccoli, but I can point you in the direction of my Twitter feed: @jonnyeberle. Don’t be afraid to ask for seconds.
You can see Leupp from miles around, where it’s perched on a small plateau overlooking the high desert. Surrounding the town are dozens of small houses, each spread over several acres. Cows look up from grazing on small patches of yellowed wild grass to watch my car speed down the rough, two lane road leading into town.
On Leupp Road — the only named street in the tiny town of 1,605 — across a two-and-a-half foot deep trench filled with rainwater, sits an 18-foot trailer with a flashing LED sign in the window reading “Open.” Behind it, the Leupp Boarding School looms like a fortress and the spire of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pierces the clear blue sky. In comparison, the trailer looks insignificant, but it is the home of an unlikely success story. The smell of hamburgers and deep fried onion rings wafts over the whole area around the trailer, attracting several dogs. One car after another braves the deep puddle to get there. I follow suit, figuring that the locals know best.
Inside, Chris Begay and Genevieve Gonnie are busy preparing a brown bag special for a customer. In between orders, we chat about their business.
“We’ve been doing this for what? Three… Four… Four-and-a-half years?” Begay says, looking to his business partner.
“Yeah, four-and-half years,” Gonnie confirms.
Begay and Gonnie are the co-owners of L.A. Fresh Grill. They started by offering free fry bread to people who filled out credit applications back when they both sold cars. They soon found that they could make more money selling their food than they could on commission and so they set up on the side of the road one day with some fry bread. Three hours later, they sold out. Eight months later, they had enough money to buy their trailer.
They consider themselves fortunate to have done so well for themselves. Some of the other vendors parked around here have been selling the same thing for 20 or 30 years and still drive the same broken down vehicles, Begay says.
L.A. Fresh Grill has become a staple in Leupp. Regular customer Jonathan Yazzie is quick to inform me that the onions rings are “the best.”
“We had a couple older ladies drive all the way from Ship Rock just to come to our food stand,” Begay says with an air of pride. “We’ve sent fry bread to Miami —”
“—And Canada,” his aunt, who often comes to visit, interjects.
When asked about the state of the state of the economy in the area, though, their smiles fade a little. L.A. Fresh Grill has seen a decline in its clientele over the past year.
“It’s the economy,” Gonnie says, shaking her head bitterly.
Still, things are looking up for the pair. They have hopes of opening a permanent cafe, but it’s hard to get around the bureaucratic red tape.
“There’s a lot of favoritism with the Navajo Nation,” Gonnie says. She leans a little closer to the small window. “There are a lot of people who want to start things, but it’s hard to get permission to do it.”
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and social media manager in Flagstaff, AZ, where he enjoys referring to himself in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonnyeberle.