408 Dates with Maureen
by Gail Bellamy
At 8:30 a.m. every Saturday for years
the three of us have basked in the
same place at Tommy’s Restaurant, a booth
across from the big green speckled bowl
bursting with red-ripe tomatoes,
and ordered a trio of Maureens
with cheese for breakfast. Sometimes
we praise Maureen’s eponymous plate—
potatoes, vegetables and cheddar
in the colors of the Irish flag—or
speculate about Maureen herself.
Once, I think, we took a photograph.
All these Maureens on oval platters,
1,224 of them by my estimation, are like
framed portraits reminiscent of 800 Pacos
who presented themselves at Madrid’s Hotel Montana
at noon on Tuesday in Hemingway’s story
The Capital of the World.
We three arrive, in mittens or sandals,
on zombie junkets or bull-riding breakfast rodeos,
rushed or lingering, laughing or lamenting
but always meeting with Maureen the potato gamin.
Breakfast, the gentle link that stretches
like a string of melted cheddar from fork to chin,
connects us at Tommy’s, The Capital
of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
|Gail Bellamy, PhD, CCP is executive food editor of Restaurant Hospitality magazine and a Certified Culinary Professional. Her seven published books include Cleveland Food Memories (Gray & Co.) and poetry chapbooks Victual Reality: Food Poems and Traveler’s Salad (Pudding House). She co-authored The Vegetable Storybook, which received a “Best in the U.S.” Gourmand World Cookbook Award. Her work has appeared in more than 80 publications. Gail served as the 2010 and 2011 Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, and received a Creative Workforce Fellowship in Poetry, funded by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.|