Friday, September 23, 2011

I'll Buy that for a Dollar

Plymouth Fall Fest
Downtown Plymouth, Michigan

"Old Detroit has a cancer . . . the cancer is crime," lectured the CEO of Omni Consumer Products in the1987 sci-fi flick, Robocop.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Robocop, not much has changed in the 24 years since the movie was made.

In fact, it may actually be worse than the distopian film made it out to be. Detroit remains the festering economic wound that threatens to rot off Michigan's famous thumb.

The cancer is obvious to anyone who drives into Detroit. Michigan's gorgeous countryside of green fields and grazing animals gives way to condemned buildings and the panhandling homeless.

You're soon greeted by police cars painted a welcoming shade of black.

Sadly, the sight makes me understand Robocop's villain Clarence Boddicker's quip, "You see, I got this problem. Cops don't like me, so I don't like cops."

So imagine my thought when I was recently invited by a friend to visit Plymouth, Michigan's "Fall Fest" -- the yearly festival that takes place in the town's downtown streets.

I quietly whispered in my head as I was accepting her invitation, "Great, decent food and an otherwise good time overshadowed by paramilitary style police along with throngs of teenage wannabe gangsters who eagerly have their eyes on my valuables while they loudly blurt out Eminem lyrics."

I thought this because I was going on the assumption that Plymouth is like the rest of the "3-1-3;" poetically dismal.

After all, a mediocre Government Motors (GM) car line is named after the place and how can that be a good thing?

Much to my amazement, Plymouth was far closer the the Utopian "Delta City" of Robocop lore than the unchecked playground of corrupt text messaging mayors.

The town was just damn pleasant!

Well-kept, nice streets, historic victorian homes built around old railroad tracks who a century earlier brought the wealth of the East Coast to town.

And in the middle, a park-like square compete with a fountain surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and an oh so trending cupcake store.

This was Detroit's donut effect in full glory. The empty center ringed by a thriving outside area.

However, I wasn't there for the fashionable bistros or even the Ferris Wheel. No, I came for one thing -- down-home Midwestern festival food!

You know the kind. Made lovingly by old church ladies, local philanthropic groups, and the ever present Mom begrudgingly filling her required volunteer service hours.

This is the soul that festivals on the east coast just plain lack.

Almost upon entering the blocked streets my companion spotted a discarded pierogi on the curb.

Clearly whoever was eating this must have dropped the tasty boiled then panfried dumpling, because who in their right mind would throw it away?

My escort and I decided then and there we were on a mission. Our prime directive was to find homemade Polish food.

The tent in question was (wo)manned by the mom's of the local "Polish Centennial Dancers." A dance group made-up predominately of teenagers.

We eagerly ran up to the table to order our pierogis and were up-sold on the stuffed cabbage. A blend of seasoned beef with rice, covered in a tomato sauce then wrapped in a tenderly boiled cabbage leaf.

You see, I have a soft spot in my heart for boiled food; call it the peasant in me.

Even my friend ordered one prompting me to ask, "Aren't you a vegetarian," and she sheepishly replied, "Yes, but . . . um . . . sometimes I eat meat."

And who wouldn't in this case?

We sat in the town square eating our Polish fare with plastic forks and bowls enjoying the first rain free day in a week.

The blues played on the stage behind us and the neighborhood congregated around the fountain. No cyborg super-cop patrolling the streets and only a few disheveled Insane Clown Posse fans lingering about.

Was it the best tasting meal I ever had -- not by a long shot. It wasn't even the best pierogi or stuffed cabbage I ever had due to their lack of spice.

But sometimes taste isn't the only thing that makes for a good meal.

Many times, it's the the overall surroundings, the company that's joining you and the new memories you're making or old ones you're recalling -- and as the creepy commercials in Robocop said, "I'll buy that for a dollar!"

Rating: I would buy the shirt . . . for a dollar!

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