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Dairy State Roots

August 22, 2008

Tuesday night I was driving to meet some friends after work, and because a bridge is out over the freeway I took a different route than I otherwise would have, which meant I came out onto the state highway a block farther north than usual. No big deal, really, except at that intersection I’m rarely at I saw a Culver’s I didn’t even know existed. A Culver’s three blocks from my office. How could I have missed such an important development? Are my fried cheese detectors malfunctioning? Through sheer force of will I managed to make myself drive by this wonderful discovery, but there was no question I was going there for lunch on Wednesday. Today I got around to putting up a picture of my Culver’s cup from that meal as part of the 365+1 project I’m doing on Flickr and thought I might link to an entry here which covers my love for Culver’s, except when I tried to do that, I couldn’t find any such entry. So now I am writing this one to fix that.

So, Culver’s. Best burger restaurant ever. I first saw and ate at one when I was working as a consultant in Portage, Wisconsin in 1998. One visit and I was hooked. The burgers (called ButterBurgers) are juicy and delicious and remind me so much of the ones my dad used to make me when I was growing up. The fact that one can get fried cheese curds as a side sealed the deal—I love me some cheese curds (they sold them at the airport in Madison and many a trip back from Portage found me with a bag in my carryon). And I haven’t even gotten to dessert—they have frozen custard that is so very, very tasty even when it isn’t topped with anything (though of course they’ll do that, too—turtle sundae, anyone?)

Maybe it’s the Wisconsin in my gene pool that draws me to Culver’s; the chain started there and I did, too (I was conceived in Milwaukee). I stopped working in Portage in early 1999 and for some time I didn’t get to eat any more ButterBurgers, but then I started seeing Culver’s outside of Wisconsin more and more. For a long time, the closest one to me in Michigan was in Jackson, too far to go for just a meal but a must stop whenever I was coming back from visiting my mom in Illinois. (My pre-race dinners before my first two 4Ks were both at that Culver’s.) Then a few opened up in metro Detroit, but very near my usual haunts so I wasn’t tempted constantly. But now that’s changed. Now I know I could hop in my car and have custard in hand in about five minutes. That makes it harder to resist, but I will, at least six days a week, because much as I love Culver’s, I love fitting into my clothes and airline seats, too.

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