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Thanksgiving Leftovers


I put Thanksgiving leftovers in a plastic dish for my lunch at the home, farm and auto supply store.

Low levels of activity characterized the last week. Once I finished morning sessions at my writing desk, I didn’t leave the house much. I don’t like the thought of going to work today, yet two shifts each week provides structure and socialization. It would be easy to get disconnected from society where we live. It’s time to get going again with a trip across the lakes.

I made a slaw of green cabbage and daikon radish and put a serving in a plastic container to supplement the beans, kale and rice lunch in the other. I’m ready for my shift.

Yesterday the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Devotay, the restaurant started by Kurt and Kim Friese, was shuttering Jan. 1, 2019. Frieses sold the restaurant last January and under new owners the tapas bar is not attracting enough customers. They plan to re-name the Linn Street restaurant, create a new menu and re-open. Tapas was a thing when I worked in the Chicago loop, and I’ve eaten paella in Spain, but today’s potential customers apparently don’t get it. Such is restaurant life in a county seat that hosts a large university with a transient population.

As I read the news, the letter carrier delivered a copy of Friese’s book A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland. When I ordered it, the web site said it was the last copy in stock, although it was published across the lake in North Liberty. They can probably make more as long as there is demand. I knew of Friese the food author, but never read him, ate in his restaurant, or ran into him around the county. I met him when he became more active in politics. He was a good writer and a great conversationalist. I still can’t believe he is gone.

To make sense of our food ecology, some knowledge of what Friese did is essential. Until his last days he was recruiting people to join the slow food movement. I doubt anyone can replace what he did because of his long tenure and specific knowledge. Devotay likely relied on this as well and was bound to change after they sold.

“Food is important,” chef Matt Steigerwald said when he opened Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon. While I didn’t know Kurt Friese’s food hardly at all, he left a legacy which is likely entwined in the Thanksgiving leftovers I packed for lunch. I intend to unpack his food legacy in my quest to understand the complex food ecology where we live.

But for now, I have to get ready for my shift.