Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But I won't be going there after dark

I didn't post yesterday because I posted twice on Friday, so suck it.

Nothing like an opening insult to really grab the reader, eh?

Onward. You know those menus and coupons that occasionally end up rubberbanded to your doorknob? Or if you don't live somewhere with a high enough population density to experience this phenomenon of anonymous solicitation, can you at least imagine? I've always wondered what the point of all that random, scattershot marketing is. Now I know:

To break Courtney's long-standing embargo on gas station food!

Okay, so I also haven't exactly been dying to pull up a chair in a place whose culinary history usually includes a whole chapter on microwave burritos, but mine hasn't been a strict aversion. And there was that time the lady and I ate at a Quizno's that was attached to a BP. That's not gas station food, per se, but she saw it as a definite gray area, so it was noteworthy.

Sunday night found us without any food, and Courtney was hungry. So to the stack of orphaned menus she went, picking one we were unfamiliar with called "Family Pizza." The address placed it just around the corner, so we called in a couple of calzones and waited ten minutes before we went to pick them up.

Yup, it was a gas station. Nope, it wasn't the nice kind. Bars on the windows. Suspicious looks from the proprietor. Smell of stale cigarettes and gasoline and decades of neglect. There actually was no outward indication at all that the place had any capacity whatsoever to produce freshly cooked meals. We drove past it once before doubling back, figuring the "Family Food Mart" sign couldn't be a coincidence, but still unconvinced. The inside of the small store didn't raise our confidence any further, as it seemed suited for little else than selling gas, condoms and beer.

Sure enough, though, next to the cash register was a glass case with half a sorry-looking paper-thin pepperoni pizza sitting under a heat lamp on some greasy wax paper. Still not entirely sure we were in the right place, Courtney told the surly guy behind the counter her name and what we ordered, to which he responded "He's finishing them up right now," gesturing to the doorway behind him.

Finishing them up? So there is some sort of food preparation going on in here after all?

Thinking we would here the DING! of the microwave that is thawing out our calzones in the back room any second, I looked around at the small c-store. To my left was a pegboard hung with an array of condoms and to my right was an actual table pushed up against the wall with a couple of chairs, presumably for those tempted by the heat lamp pizza. In the corner by the table stood the slushie machine, identified as neither Slush Puppy nor Icee. Past the wall o' condoms were the coolers and some shelves with the requisite corn chips, Ho-Hos and Slim Jims.

After no more than a minute (and without a DING! to announce it), another guy emerged from the back, making up for the other dude's surly countenance with a friendly smile and an air of accommodation. He passed us a pizza box that weighed somewhere north of ten pounds and tried to supply us with plastic plates and utensils as well.

The lady paid for the contents of the box (hopefully food), we thanked them and made our exit.

What was in the box? Two enormous and delicious calzones, loaded with toppings (or innards, as they were calzones), enough for two meals each, and for only $11. The guy even told us to keep the coupon we had so we could use it another time.

I think we'll be eating gas station food again.


The Dutchess of Kickball said...

I was just waiting for the description to include a fully packed piece of fly tape hanging in the corner.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I am impressed, and now I want gas station food. You can't even get a salad around here for $11. Nor can I think of even one gas station that sells food. Hmph.

em said...

I love gas station food. But this story had a scary build up. I am glad it ended deliciously.

Allie said...

That was quite a surprise ending you pulled there, Mister.

surviving myself said...

Nice. I hope your stomach made it out of there alive.

Noelle said...

Congrats on popping your cherry. Love to have pics next time.

Courtney said...

It was touch and go for a while there, people. But that was a damn tasty (and HUGE) calzone, and it was cheap to boot. Is all gas station food that good, or did we just get lucky? It's a mystery.

The Modern Gal said...

Don't judge a book by it's cover.

Is this a place I should be patronizing as well?

Aaron said...

Is this what the south is like? Gas station food at every turn? I have such a strange mental image of where you live.

Meaghan said...

You two are brave, but I'm glad the calzones were yummy! To answer Courtney, no, I don't think all gas station food is good.

Stefanie said...

Does the gas station food embargo apply only to food PREPARED at the gas station, or all food available there? Because in most cases, I'd say she has a valid concern with the prepared food. On road trips, however, I do enjoy indulging in Hostess cupcakes and Pizzaria Pretzel flavor Combos.

Julie said...

I recently re-discovered the pleasure of the gas station. For the inside, I mean, not for the black gold no longer readily available inside the pumps. I must have made four complete laps around the gas station before settling on a tasty treat in the ethnic food section that I can't quite pronounce. I've been thinking about going back, but I'm lazy.

Chris said...

I love a good calzone.

Glad you didn't getted stabbed or food poisoning.