Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Diners are without pretense, phony sophistication or inflated prices. Therein, conversations are relevant and to the point. As in all eating establishments, diners sport menu items that are not so kind to the waistline. However, diners also serve nutritious foods.

Jim is the manager and chef in Burlington, Vermont's Henry's Diner. Jim is in his mid-thirties, of stocky build, with reddish hair and a face to match. Watching Jim handle a number of orders at once is like watching a ballet, graceful and perfectly timed.

After a few rushed minutes, Jim stepped from the kitchen, walked to the counter and introduced himself. He said that he was of Heinz 57 lineage, but I suspect there was a heavy dose of Scott and Irish in that batch.

Jim said that he had worked in a kitchen his "entire life" and explained that he grew up in his grandfather's bakery, Dough Boy's Bakery, which had been located around the corner from Henry's.

With kind eyes, Jim smiled and revealed teeth in need of a hefty dental bill, but Jim had his priorities straight and spoke of his plans to buy his own diner.

Jim also bakes the Henry's pies, and we discussed the virtues of a good piece of pie. Jim fondly spoke of his wife and three children and of the two apple pies he'd baked for them the previous evening.

With orders stacking up, Jim hot-footed-it back to the kitchen and resumed his rhythmic dance.

Besides the good food and homey atmosphere, I especially like diners because of people like Jim, good, down-to-earth souls, who enjoy the quintessential hearth, the kitchen.

Addendum: If anyone wants to share an experience, offer a comment or ask a question, I'd welcome the dialogue.

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