What if I told you that everything your parents told you about throwing your food is wrong? That good and honest people throw millions of rolls every single year? And that they’ve been doing it for over 70 years? Would you believe me?
Well if you are from Missouri and the surrounding areas, you probably would and your first thought would be “Lambert’s Cafe.” And you’d be right. My grandmother gave me some money for my birthday back in March and the immediate first thought I had was “I’m going to take this money and go to Lambert’s… who could we take with us?” And we thought of someone. Just a few weeks later we are at their house chatting and one of them said “Hey, we were thinking. You guys are going out on these Sunday drives, what do you say we go down to Lambert’s some time?” FULL STOP!
It’s not every day that someone reads your mind. (Well actually it is, Kezia and I read each other’s mind all of the time. I feel quite sorry for her, it must be depressing to read mine.) So logically we responded with an enthusiastic yes! And planned a trip for Saturday so that we could beat the rush. (And its a good thing too, since we still had to wait about an hour.)
In good Sunday driving fashion, we took the least direct way and got lost a time or two on the way down. At one point I walked into a Casey’s somewhere in Illinois (remember I said the least direct way?) carrying my Delorme Missouri Atlas & Gazetteer and asked if they could help me get to the bridge in Cape Girardeau. I told them, my plan was to take this IL-3 route all the way down to Cape and cross the bridge there. They replied, “Awe honey, you sure do like to take the long way don’t ya.” She then proceeded to explain to me that I had turned off onto another highway on the one section that doesn’t appear on the map… because it’s a Missouri map and not an Illinois one. As I walked out, they continued to give me advice and one said, “just pull up Cape Girardeau on your GPS…” she was cut off by the other lady explaining to her that I had just brought in an old fashioned map so therefore I didn’t have a smart phone. (I’ll bet she’s still figuring that out.)
But finally we arrived, and since we were right on time (exactly a half an hour late) we were able to get seated right away because our friends had patiently waited in line the entire time for us. Lambert’s is massive! They have 2 different dining rooms that are packed to the brim. The atmosphere is excited, everyone is looking forward to their food. In fact, they are so eager that you don’t even have to wait for the menu because waiters come around with their famous pass arounds: Fried Okra, Macaroni, Black Eyed Peas, Fried potatoes, and those famous Throwed Rolls!
This isn’t just some cute euphemism or a story about how they toss the dough up in the air when them make them. (You know like that joke that is DQ turning your Blizzard upside down. I can see the eye roll every time they do it.) No, this is the real deal, Tom Brady style hail mary passes across the dining room. When you catch these things, you feel like you just won the super bowl.
“Now that you have won the Superbowl, what are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to eat this dang roll! Where’s the molasses?”
Now, you may go the Lambert’s thinking that you are just going to take the pass arounds and not get a meal. Well they’ve thought of that, you can get just those pass arounds for $9.95. And you’d go home having eaten more than your fill. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret, there are a few items on the menu that are somewhere in the $10.00 range. (As in just a quarter or so more than the bare bones option.) Order those, you’ll get an entree (which is awesome) plus two sides (that aren’t included in the pass arounds) PLUS all the free stuff. And when you do that, just loosen your belt and dig in. Forget Atkins or South Beach, Weight Watchers can (and should) become “Wait Watchers” for the day because you don’t want to miss any of the food. Our friend ordered the “Hog Jowls” which came out as essentially a plate full of thick cut bacon. I can’t think of a better reason to go off your diet. Just load up your table with food and don’t worry if it looks like a 3 year old birthday party with food scattered everywhere. Everyone’s table ends up looking like that anyway.
After you’re done, get up and walk around. Check out the game room and maybe do a little dancing to the piano. When I first saw the woman playing, I thought boy she looks an awful lot like the Piano player that was here when I was 12. And sure enough, she’s been there since 1990 which would just about cover it (by about 13 years.)
We had originally planned to stop and go for a hike on the way back but the food coma we had recently induced had other plans. So instead, safely strapped into our 5-point harnesses, we took a new way home and fell more deeply in love with our Missouri home. We discovered rolling hills, drove past some of those historic Lutheran Churches in Perry County, coveted some barn quilts and homesteads, and didn’t fall asleep (miraculously.)
So what is the moral of the story? Buckle Up, and go to Lambert’s.