Lunch at the Red Apple

The Red Apple cafe in Mahnomen has always been a legend, at least in my own mind. After taking our family Christmas photo in 1976 (I was in 6th grade) at a photographer's in Mahnomen, we went to the Red Apple where we watched the final game of the 1976 World Series. (I know, it always comes down to baseball.) The Reds beat the Yanks in four games. For the only time in my life, I was pulling for the Yanks. Billy Martin blew his cool in the later innings and put on a show of kicking dirt, throwing things, screaming--stuff managers don't do anymore.

The Red Apple had a hint of discolor to its reputation within my teetotalling family (at least in my foggy early memory) because it was known as a place where people from Fertile escaped if they wanted a little bump with their meal. So, if they said, "We're going down to the Red Apple," it was as if they announced they were headed to a brothel. You just don't say that out loud in front of the kids!

Obviously, my parents didn't share that view of the Red Apple, at least by the time 1976 rolled around.

Anyway, I stopped at the Red Apple today and sat down at the counter next to the local veternarian, a man named Hoppestad, a long-time customer at the nursery. Well, my plate came--hot pork sandwich--and we both looked at it wide-eyed. It was heaping, dripping over the edge. It was so good, but it was so much.

I don't know if the waitresses think I look malnourished and tell the cook to pour it on, or what. But everywhere I go around here, my plate comes overflowing. I have even tried to order 1/2 portions, and they come just as big. My theory: They are scared that if they don't give me enough, they are going to end up featured in my column in an unflattering light.

At the meatball supper in Twin Valley a couple of weeks ago, I know darn well that everybody else got two meatballs (they were huge), but I got three. Everybody else got one or two dollops of potatoes, but I got three. Gravy ran over the edge of the plate, as usual.

I told Hoppestad this. He got a big laugh out of it. He encouraged me to write something in my column about a local restaurant, unnamed (because it doesn't exist), which is a little shy on the portions--and see what happens to the helpings I get then! Gosh, I am tempted.