A Taste of Home

Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine|May 2020

A Taste of Home
I have a fascination with almost anything well made—things produced with pride and passion, regardless of whether or not I actually need or can afford them—a simple, hand-stitched felt sleeve for my laptop; small-batch Rhum agricole from Martinique; Winslow Homer paintings.
JOHN GIFFORD

After a recent visit to Northern Michigan, I realized that I could add a bowl of chili to this list, if it’s made in Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport.

The first time I sampled this chili at the Cherry Country Café, located within the airport, I immediately detected something different about it. It wasn’t venison or turkey or any other ingredient. Nor did eating it set my mouth on fire. It was simply the quality of the chili itself. It tasted like chili from home, prepared on the stove, in a big stockpot with a few fresh and simple ingredients: beef, beans, onions, garlic and little more. Eating it reminded me of the chili I’d enjoyed as a child; of coming in for lunch on a cold winter day to the aroma of simmering beans and beef and garlic warming the kitchen and reconstituting my frozen spirit; of the bold, savory flavors that made the gray winter days a bit warmer and brighter.

I mentioned to the women running the place that their chili was something of a revelation, tasting completely different than what I had expected from an airport café, and seemed even to be made with love. I was told that it is, indeed, home-cooked and that a “nice lady” comes in early each morning to make it—at like, 2 a.m. And in addition to her chili, she makes homemade soups.

Who does something like this at an airport eatery?

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May 2020