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Cuisine by Brian Schropp

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
CUISINE by Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp




Yes, it’s that time of year again when the holiday eats are in full bloom. And nothing says holiday eats like holiday sauces– a staple of festive meals. Many Lankvillians will instantly think of cranberry, mint and hollandaise but my sauce of choice is nacho cheese. Sure, it’s an odd choice, you might say, but I find that the subtle nuances in a good nacho cheese can put a whole new spin on a good turkey or honey baked ham (sorry Mom, I did not ruin Thanksgiving– you just need to give these culinary ideas a chance).

 My favorite nacho cheese comes from a gas station…

My favorite nacho cheese comes from a gas station– Mort’s Pumps and Food Depot off Interstate 42. Now, I will be the first to admit that you take a gamble getting any food there. “I don’t mean to make people sick,” owner Mort Freidberg once told me, his azure eyes filling with tears. “My staff and I honestly forget to check expiration dates.” Nevertheless, I find there is something about Mort’s nacho cheese– the flavor, the texture, the way it melts into the oft-stale chips and the frequently cold chili that is simply delicious and overly-satisfying. I actually took a cup home and added it as a glaze to the Thanksgiving turkey my Mom was preparing. And although I was a party of one on the results and even though Dad says I’m on my “second strike” relating to ruining holiday functions, I’m still going to try and make it a yearly tradition.

I decided to head down to Mort’s and speak with him about his exuberant nacho cheese sauce. I was hoping he would open up and share his recipe, perhaps reveal the creator of this stunning snack nectar. Was it the delicate touch of his wife LeAnna? Was Mort himself the gastronome? What sort of cheeses are used (I taste MANY, EVERY time). So off I went with my compass and atlas of Lankville in hand (I could not get a lift from any family members, post-Thanksgiving anger still appears to be lingering) to Interstate 42. I owe another big shout-out to my dear friend Trucker Joe who found me lost, confused and screaming near the Lankville Badlands of Route 71 and got me to my desired destination.

The station was bustling with activity upon my arrival. Gas pumps were flowing and customer stomachs were wobbly and turbulent. After talking down a patron who wanted to call the health department over a ham and cheese sandwich, Mort was able to give me a few minutes of his time.

Mort examines the interior of the nacho cheese dispenser.

Mort examines the interior of the nacho cheese dispenser.

“What can I do for you, Bri?”

“I’m here to talk about your nacho cheese, Mort. It’s some of the best I’ve ever had and believe me sir, I have been trying nacho cheese all over Lankville since I was a little kid. I’m hoping you will show me how this marvelous sauce is made.”

“Wait, I sell nachos here?” Mort responded.

“Yeah, I get them all the time when my Dad stops for gas.”

“At my place? You’re not talking about Ben’s Double Food Arena up the road? The place with the high seats?” Mort put his hand above his head for illustrative purposes.

I was confused. “No, it’s right over here,” I said. I walked him to a back corner of his store near the canned meat and pastry goods island.

“Well, I’ll be damned. Guess I do.” Mort walked over and slapped the side of the machine. “So, it works you say?”

I rolled my eyes– I could tell he was playing some sort of game.

He took a nearby bag of chips then (shaking his head at the expiration date) and placed it under the nozzle. There was a loud cranking sound and then that beautiful nacho cheese was luxuriously ejaculated.

“I’ll be damned,” he muttered under his breath. “Tell you the truth, Bri, I bought this thing at a flea market a few years back. I put it in this darkened corner with the intent of eventually looking it over. Then I just plain forgot about the sucker.” He fingered the nacho cheese atop his chips gingerly.

It was then that I knew his game. “It’s okay, Mort, I understand. You don’t want anyone to know your secret. Why would you? Some things are just too good to share.”

“No, I’m dead serious,” he responded. “I don’t think this thing has been touched since you started lurking around back here. I can’t believe there’s still cheese in it.” He gave me a fatherly look. “You probably oughta’ go to the hospital, Bri. How much of this have you had?”

“Sure, sure,” I chuckled and walked away. I knew he wasn’t going to let me into his inner cooking circle.

Walking back home I reflected on Mort Friedberg and his nacho cheese sauce and how lucky we are to have him in Lankville. Think about it– this man takes the time and loving care to make such a beautiful sauce only to shove it into a distant corner of a store for people like me to find. The searchers, the real foodies, the ones who will go the extra mile (or aisle) to find culinary masterpieces. Now that I let “the cat out of the bag” I’m sure many readers will be heading over to try this pleasure (just avoid Interstate 71 at all costs) but I am also sure Mr. Friedberg will step up his game. Until next time keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.


  1. Luigi
    December 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I’m so glad you’ve gotten out from under those Bumpkins and have a complete article all to yourself! You’re really getting places, Mr. Schropp! Congratulations!

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