Thursday, May 14, 2009

Work in Progress: Detroit Edition

We got back from Detroit last night (in time to watch the third period of the Caps-Penguins Game 7…sad, sad, sad) and today I’m getting ready to head to Massachusetts, to the Sun magazine conference. Since I haven’t been doing much writing in recent days, I thought I’d give a quick wrap-up of our trip:

--Though we were in Detroit for a funeral, we had an afternoon to do some fun things (yes, there are plenty of fun things to do in Detroit!). The Henry Ford Museum is fascinating: we especially liked seeing the aluminum “house of the future” and rows and rows of old cars. We also toured a stunningly beautiful restored diner and learned some Midwestern diner lingo: Saddle blankets, anyone? (That’s “pancakes” to us regular folks.)

--Steve had never had one of Detroit’s famous Coney Island hot dogs, and we managed to drive into downtown Detroit to try the original Lafayette Coney Island, having a coney (a special chili-dog) , order of fries and (famous) Vernor’s ginger ale. Of course, once Steve heard that the two brothers who had started Lafayette had had some sort of disagreement that resulted in estrangement and one brother leaving to start his own Coney place—RIGHT NEXT DOOR—we had to walk six steps over go try that one, too. It’s hard for me to decide whether American Coney Island beats Lafayette, so I suggest you try them both as we did. (We did have a great conversation with “Dan-Dan-the-Hot-Dog-Man” who is the grandson of the American Coney’s founder, so I give the nod for friendliness to American. Plus, they will mail order a Coney Island kit so you don’t even have to go to Detroit.) Interesting side note: Part of the chapter called “I Want You to Have this Now” from Pears on a Willow Tree takes place in Lafayette.

--Dearborn, Michigan—where my father grew up—now holds a large Lebanese/Arab-American community, so of course we had to go to a Middle Eastern restaurant. We found Ollie’s Lebanese Restaurant, which was another fabulous experience, complete with a round of baklava on the house because we were told “we all had to try it.” For an appetizer to share, Steve selected a cauliflower dish; I gave him the stink-eye, but he persisted (he loves his vegetables), and this ended up being the best cauliflower I’ve ever had.

--After the funeral, we enjoyed a wonderful family luncheon at the historic Dearborn Inn (which was the nation’s first airport hotel). I heard a bunch of new family stories (if only I’d had a tape recorder!) that will surely inspire me in new and interesting ways—and it was wonderful to reconnect with some special people I don’t get to see often enough.

--And finally, as “Dear Abby” often concluded in the old days: Confidential to Cynthia: A special cyber-hug to you! xoxox


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.