Saturday, August 15, 2009

Homage to the Diner

I spent a lot of time paying homage to the diner as an institution during my college years. Doc's, Dutch's Steak House, Toc's Coffee House, Livingston's all saw me with my 2" thick textbooks, ordering coffee and steak & eggs for my late night study sessions.

The diner has a particular vibe, there's a there there, much like some people can tell what land a wine is from based on its taste. You know you're in Jersey, New York or Kansas if you see a diner.

The decor is usually 1950's atomic formica table top in white, pink and gray or a slightly variegated brown porch enamel color in a plywood pattern. There's usually a counter with vinyl covered stools, red, blue or brown.

The smell of hash browns (not country fries) wafts heavily through the air. The menu boasts comfort foods: country fried steak, biscuits and gravy, steak and eggs, medium rare, over easy, whole wheat toast and coffee, always lots of coffee.

The atmosphere is casual and the place is open late hours. Everyone from customers to the cook knows the regulars, their cars and names and usual order. People respect privacy and also check up on each other in the case of long absences.

A certain kind of customer/waitress droll dry green-olive humor abounds: Man, shaking pepper on his food, and continues for some time. Waitress, "Why don't you just take the lid off." Man, "I wouldn't get my exercise that way."

The's an institution.

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