We call it “Original Pancake House”, but today it was a portal. For with a single bite I was flying through time, back to the railroad tracks where my brother and I would head for adventure on hot summer days. We’d depart from our suburban home to hike this way or that, listening for trains, drinking from metal army surplus canteens, packing survival kits in case of accident or mayhem, BB guns kept at the ready.
Sometimes, my dad would join us. The three of us would leave early on a Saturday morning, and Dad would carry his own backpack, which would produce from its olive drabness wonders aplenty: sterno and skillet, bacon and eggs, and a can of corned beef hash. With sharp stamped metal we would open both ends, then push the cylinder of cold meat and potatoes into the skillet, serving it onto paper plates that would soak up the grease and crackle in the fire a few minutes later.
So today, nestled with my family in a brightly lit suburban restaurant that was turning tables faster than a locomotive, I could nevertheless feel the air on my face, hear the sizzle of the pan, taste the goodness seasoned with salt and time, and feel the presence of this man who was watching out for me before I realized it.
Delicious though that hash was, I was compelled to share some with my wife, and to give big bites to my daughter. They both loved it.