Weather: Sunny, warm, and humid.
Tonight I rode Ramble Plan One again. It will be the last time for at least two weeks. Why? Because the Minnesota State Fair is upon us, and the traffic around the halfway point of RP1 is going to become unbearable, starting tomorrow.
The Minnesota State Fair is one of the biggest in the country. At least, that’s what the local media keep telling us. For all I know, they may be right.
I stopped going years ago, because of the immense crowds and total lack of free parking. I have never liked going anywhere that I have to pay for parking, only to brush up against countless other humans to get where I am going, and see what I want to see.
Who’s definition of fun is that?
So tonight, I set out to savor this Ramble Plan One, and attend to some Unfinished Business. First stop, just like last time, was The Sportsman’s. Tonight, as promised, I ordered their vaunted “Not for Sissies Chili”.
Lovely Lindsay delivered a bowl to my table that looked like this:
If you put your face right up against your computer screen, you might just be able to smell it.
Click on the photo to enlarge it, and you may just want to lick that screen. Mmmmmmm… Go ahead, I won’t tell.
By the time I was finished with this bowl, my forehead was beaded in sweat, and my nose was running. You know you’re eating real chili when you end up chewing on hot pepper seeds all night long.
I know there are some of you Texans out there, searching that image for a trace of bean. Well, let me save you the trouble…
Yeah, Tex, there are a few kidney beans in there. Not my favorite, I’ll admit. But the Sportsman manages to minimize the presence of the hated bean by the other flavors in this incendiary concoction. The meat is simply spiced ground beef too. Not the brisket or steak that you prefer, you oil-rich bastard.
You see, most Minnesotans demand beans in their chili. I’m not sure why. The classic, competition definition of chili, with just lean meat and pepper sauce, doesn’t play well here in the snow belt.
Minnesotans tend to make something called “Hot Dish” out of any food staple they don’t understand. The historic need for jerky with pepper sauce just wasn’t here. So they added stuff to make it more nutritional, and boost the calorie count against the cold of winter. It’s a Scandiwegian thang, I think, and you just wouldn’t understand.
Awww… Just turn around, Tex, and mosey on home. This ain’t for you.
Anyway, here’s another thing that I liked about The Sportsman: The bar itself is ancient wood, with long-forgotten declarations of love and lunacy carved in it’s surface. They have done nothing to cover anything up, which only adds to the charm.
The decor hasn’t changed for decades, except by accident of accumulation and advertising. Old animal heads adorn some of the walls, to give credence to The Sportsman’s name. The locals who gather here, and prefer to remain anonymous, are people of vivid character. Not a single SUV-driving, cred-seeking yuppie amongst them.
The road construction is certainly hurting business, but it looks to me like the local trade will sustain them. I hope so. My hoary old maxim: “Nothing Cool Ever Lasts” cannot prevail here. It just can’t.
I’ll be back, when The Fair is over. I promise.