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THE FOOD CHALLENGE

July 14, 2015 Leave a comment
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By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

“There’s gotta be something, Bri.”

Scott was starring off into space while absently tapping the buttons on the pizza sauce stained adding machine. I sat in the other (and not as nice) chair in his office swiveling in a semi-circle trying to shake the ideas out of my mind. The 43rd Annual Lankville Food Challenge was coming up in a few weeks and the qualifying round for our area in Deep Suburban Lankville was just a few days out. For some reason Scott got it in his mind that we needed to enter something not only to help make a name for the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ but also that it could be a stepping stone for him to do something greater. “I always thought there was a dream in the stars for me,” Scott remarked not so long ago in a drunken rant while driving me home. “This pizza trade has kept me down for too long- you can only cry in the sauce so long before you realize it’s your own fault.” From the lights of the passing lampposts I could see the tears start to well up in his eyes while the music from the local hard rock station, 103.5 ‘The Hammer’ played in the background.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

If this was going to be Scott’s big break then we had some pretty stiff competition to beat just in the first round alone. ‘Sir Frank’s Medieval Theme Park’ was planning on entering their illustrious ‘Crown of Frankfurters’ and everyone in the area thought it was pretty unbeatable. Sure, there was only one actual crown now and it was in a plastic lucite case (please see my thrilling ‘Blood On the Crown’ articles from a few weeks ago for details) but thousands still flocked the theme park each week to gaze at its beauty. The ‘Mid-Morning Snack Pizza’ and ‘The Pizza Eggwich’, two personal inventions of mine from this year, were blockbusters for the pizza world but to win the actual Lankville Food Challenge it was going to take something more. And the ‘Lankville O’s Gelatin Dinner Time Surprise’ now had that warning- oh yeah I need to put the warning up:

You can only eat small amounts of my ‘Lankville O’s Gelatin Dinner Time Surprise’ in one sitting no matter what type of glue you use. It is now recommended to wait 48 to 72 hours after having one slice before having another. There is also a caution for pregnant women and children under 12 not to eat any at all.

Earlier in the day Scott had assembled a bunch of the pizza staff (Chet Cameron, Big James, Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ to name a few) into the office to have a ’round robin’ of sorts to see what ideas we could come up with. One by one he tossed them out (sometimes actually physically tossing them out) when they had no ideas or the idea wasn’t any good (like Big James just wanting to pour nacho cheese on every sub idea). As the hours ticked by the only one left was me.

​

The Crown of Frankfurthers- was it beatable?

“There’s gotta be something!!” he exclaimed again this time pounding the adding machine making it fly into the air. Naturally I was swiveling my chair right in that direction and with comical timing the adding machine smacked me right in the forehead. I hit the grody floor like a ton of bricks. I am not sure how long I was out but it had to be for a good moment. I remember Scott’s whiskey breath asking me if I was alright while shaking me. After getting up and staring at him, I had the winning food idea in my mind!! I grabbed a pizza sauce-stained pad of paper and quickly wrote out the recipe. I had no time to worry about his reaction it was happening all so fast. Scott snatched the paper and after looking it over the biggest smile appeared on his face. “Such a fuckin’ genius,” he muttered.

The ‘Pizza-A-Round’ was supposed to be open for another hour but Scott kicked everybody else out and turned off the phones, even my ‘cleaning team’ was sent home with a lot of washing still to be done. The place was now quiet for us to focus on making this new incredible food idea come to life. There were a few things Scott had to run out to the 24 hour convenience store to get– luckily most everything we needed we had in our freezers.

The process was a real trial and error affair with a rough start. Scott had his doubts and at one point complained, “Bri, this is so—-complex—can it even be done?” I did worry slightly, an idea that is so far ahead of its time can seem overwhelming but I was in my ‘Schropp Zone’ and felt anything was possible.

​Could my new idea win the Lankville Food Challenge?

​Could my new idea win the Lankville Food Challenge?

By the early morning I was taking the final creation out of the pizza oven. I had burnt my other attempts to a crisp, it was hard to judge the cooking times in such an oven. I learned you had to microwave most of the components first to warm them up. Unwrapping the foil and inhaling the aroma we knew we had a shot. “What are you going to call it?” he asked while grabbing a plastic spoon to sample. I didn’t tell Scott this but the name was the first thing in my mind with everything else following. It was long and described it perfectly. “It’s called-‘Deep Northern Meat Bits Dinner Loaf Topped With Sweet Southern Lankville BBQ Sauce in A Green and Yellow Butter Sauce.”

The first time Scott attempted to scoop a piece out, the plastic spoon broke. Getting a metal one and successfully scooping a bite he nodded his head. “Very good! Very good, Bri. We need to work on the presentation a little and it looks like the middle is still really raw but it’s a winner for sure. Shaping meat bits into a loaf is enough to rock any food judge off his feet then following that with the taste of the sweet BBQ sauce and all that butter. I mean that’s a shit ton of butter in there, I think we have a shot!”

I was happy Scott thought the final product was worthy. If this could help him break the ‘pizza chains’ that held him I was willing to give my all. I think he a great (but very misunderstood by most) manager. I will keep you updated dear readers on the results of this exciting new entry into the food challenge!! Until then please keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas, Happy Eating!!-Bri

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A Tour Of My Local ‘Lankville O’s’ Processing Plant

July 7, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Sometimes, my dear readers, your wishes really do come true. The news which I had secretly dreamed of since I was a little boy came via a tomato sauce-scented post card last week- ‘Lankville O’s’ CEO, Wally Denmark, was sending me a personal invitation to tour the local processing plant! It seems the company and Mr. Denmark himself have been quite pleased with not only my positive endorsement of everyone’s favorite canned pasta but also with my recipes incorporating them. What an honor!! Very few people are let into the doors to see ‘how the magic is made’ and even fewer get to see Mr. Denmark himself. The CEO was going to meet me at the plant to show me around!

Needless to say the night before the tour very few winks of sleep were had, I felt like that young boy again imagining what the inside of that processing plant was like. That morning waking up very early (7AM!!) I had my Mom prepare me a ‘Lankville O’s’ egg and scrapple sandwich with a generous side of ‘O’s’ with meat bits (my favorite type). My Dad offered to drive me there but the plant was so close it would be an easy walk.

My local processing plant 671B

My local processing plant 671B

The company is the number one job supplier to the Deep Northern Suburban Lankville area; there is one plant every .5 miles. Like the old saying goes- ‘If you are going to the Deep Northern Area don’t slip on any O’s!’ My local plant number was 671B.

Having never been to one or any other ‘working man’ type of plant before I was a little nervous about exactly where to enter and maybe having some type of large underpaid worker yell at me. As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry at all– it was like they were just waiting there to greet me! A small group of workers had a little red carpet rolled out and started clapping when I emerged from the nearby woods (the foot path was the quickest way to get there). Truckers, ready to roll out and deliver the goodness of the day, honked their horns and gave a friendly wave while I made my way across the parking lot. It was a delightful reception!

Once I made it to the group a sweaty, slightly nervous man who turned out to be the plant manager shook my hand while a few photos were snapped; then he quickly led me inside. The corporate offices were nothing to write home about even though the people were all very nice and stood and clapped while I was led through. The plant manager told me the CEO was in his private lounge (I think he has one in every plant) having a drink and anxiously awaiting my arrival. The lounge was tucked back behind the offices and seemed very spacious. The only two in there was the man himself and the bartender.

CEO Wally Denmark

CEO Wally Denmark

“Please Bri,” said Wally Denmark, flashing me a warm smile. “Come over here and have a drink with me.”

I had the barkeep whip up a nice cold glass of strawberry milk (which had to be brought from the cafeteria since there was only hard alcohol stored in the bar).

“First off I hope my physical appearance does not disturb you. There are some nasty rumors going around saying I had these implanted into my forehead at a young age. Sure, I was a born billionaire and could have had that done but it’s really not true. This is just an unfortunate bone growth that only looks like horns. It does give the impression of absolute evil but I believe myself to be quite the opposite.” With the push of a button on the bar the plant manager came back in to nervously tell me how nice and supportive the CEO was. I told Mr. Denmark I was so excited about seeing the plant I didn’t even notice the horns.

“And I personally wanted to give you this tour not only for the mention in the paper which always helps sales but also because of your unique uses for the ‘O’s.”

“Glad you enjoy them.”

“Well I never tasted any of your ‘cutting edge ideas’ myself. You see, the last few months my company has been under what is known as a ‘hostile takeover’. Believe it or not some company out of the depths of Southern Lankville scrapped up enough money plus influence and tried to buy their way onto the Executive Board. I really thought they had me, these swine were right on the verge of getting into my company when I decided to have them over for dinner. They thought I was having them over so as a sort of ‘peace offering’– little did they know what was in store for them! My personal chef made a VERY generous helping of your “Lankville O’s Gelatin Dinner time Surprise’ and needless to say the group was soon gone. I feel a little indebted to you in a weird roundabout way.”

I didn’t understand what he meant. Did these folks take my recipe for their own purpose? I mean, I never kept it a secret. Ultimately, I decided I really didn’t care– I was just here to see the plant and told him so.

“Yes, let’s get this tour underway, I have ‘hostile takeovers’ of my own to work on later.”

Plant workers dong their best to make every can special

Plant workers dong their best to make every can special

If you thought your typical ‘Lankville O’s’ processing plant was big from the outside you should see the inside!! We walked around the security railings which were on every level (Mr. Denmark doesn’t like to get himself dirty getting on the actual work floor). He rattled on about the facts and figures of the whole operation- how many cans were made each day at each plant and how much sauce it took etc etc. Would even go into detail about each machine and how it functioned. I’m sure he was telling me this so I could use the information for future articles. Embarrassingly however, in my excitement I left my notebook at home so no details were written down. I did enjoy watching all the employees hard at work trying to make each and every can special. I was trying my best to ignore all the ‘on site accidents’, the fingers and other body parts being sliced open or torn off with said parts just tumbling down the conveyor belts. Wally would shake his head and say “those things happen in big commercial operations.”

My favorite part of the tour came right near the end. Mr. Denmark turned to me.  “Say Bri, I hear your favorite type of ‘Lankville O’s’ are the ones with the special meat bits.”
However did he know?!!!!
“I can show you where they are made. They have their own special section of the plant, we rarely show it to outsiders.”
Nodding eagerly, I was led over to the back most section of the plant. The stench hit me like a ton of bricks before even getting there. Mr. Denmark put a handkerchief over his nose.

​The 'Killing Floor'

​The ‘Killing Floor’

“Sorry about the smell, this what we call ‘The Killing Floor’.”
The bloodshed was a bit to take in a first but I soon got used to it. “Wow, it looks like a horror movie!”
“There is such a high demand for meat bits in the cans that we need to process large amounts of meat quickly. We are lucky that Pondicherry allows us to use some things besides the ‘normal’ meat- stray animals, super squirrels, and the very occasional hobo.”
“But it tastes so good in the can.”
“That’s the magic of the meat machines I showed you earlier, it can take all that rotting meat and turn it into those delicious bits that the public enjoys. Weren’t you paying attention earlier?”
Mr. Denmark showed me a few more features of the plant and then he had to go. He quickly thanked me again, shook my hand and was off to the roof where a helicopter was waiting for him. The plant manager was back to escort me out– he was a lot less nervous but not nearly as nice. He said I had to get off the property as soon as possible or else he would call the police. I quickly tried to make my way across the parking lot back to the foot path, trucks were whizzing by me honking their horns yelling at me to get out of their way. My tour was officially over.
Could this experience ever live up to my childhood expectations? Of course not. Would it have been nice to maybe get at least one free can of ‘Lankville O’s’ (with meat bits) out of it? Yes. But all in all it was a very good day. Thanks again to CEO Wally Denmark and everyone involved for setting this up. Until next time please keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Blood on the Crown, Part II

June 24, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp

Brian Schropp

CUISINE BY BRIAN SCHROPP

There was a murder in the courtyard and chaos ensued. The Master Chef who had created the ‘Crown of Frankfurters’ had been stabbed in the back when the lights went out in the midst of a grand celebration. All those lovely people in their fancy renaissance outfits were now screaming and pushing fellow court members out of the way to make a quick exit. Trampled gowns, trampled foam swords, tears, black eyes. I managed to make it to the platform where ‘The King’ and ‘The Queen’ still stood.

​"I give you--THE CROWN OF FRANKFURTERS!!!"

‘The Crown of Frankfurters’

The King was shaking his head solemnly. “It’s really no use all of them running, security would have closed the castle walls. Only a few will be able to scale the wall itself before the spikes go up.”
“Why would someone kill the chef?” I asked, the little hotdogs that were still left jangling from my jester’s hat.

One of the ‘King’s Guard’ (a fat guy in a yellow t-shirt that said ‘security’) brought up the crown and placed it in the King’s hands. He raised it so the light would make the frankfurters sparkle. “Well Bri, it’s all because of this marvel. Somebody doesn’t want to me succeed, more than likely, they want to open a medieval hot dog theme park of their own. The best way would be to throw a wench in this, the hottest food idea of the year coming out. The news about the disaster will drive people away plus The Master Chef was the only one who knew the magical recipe.”

Over the chomping of The Queen’s gum I started to think of who would do such a thing. My thoughts kept wandering back to the person who I saw earlier in the park, Hank Cameron, Manager of Foodville. Sure, I didn’t have anything actually linking him to the crime but I knew the type of fiend he was. “Sir,” I said bowing to one knee. “I may know of the one.”

After explaining who Hank Cameron was the King shouted to his ‘King’s Guard’. “Bring me this man!!”

All the fat men of the guard shuffled out to find him. Things had finally calmed down in the courtyard at least– a good soul threw a blanket over the body of The Master Chef until some sort of authority figure would be called to take charge. Right now with the castle walls up it was all the King’s justice. A few minutes passed– I was talking with ‘The Queen’ (one of the King’s many mistresses) about the cool design on her nails when I heard a familiar voice from behind me. “There you are Bri!!”

Goofy Hotdog Guy- the true killer!!

Goofy Hotdog Guy- the true killer!!

Scott joined me on the platform in his traditional Deep Eastern Suburban Lankville outfit. I filled him in on all the details. I was glad he found me, I felt a little safer with him there and his firepower. It was soon after that the King’s Guard dragged in the whimpering, sniveling Hank Cameron with his family behind him. I guess looking back I did feel slightly bad for him but I also believe in what many Deep Northerners call ‘karmic justice.’

The battered and bruised who were still in the court gathered around the platform after Hank Cameron was brought to the front. For some reason The King’s voice became overly dramatic “Are you the man called Hank Cameron?!!!”

“Yes-yes.” His voice had taken a high-pitched nasal quality.

“You have been accused by this Hotdog Jester of killing The Master Chef and trying to make ‘The Crown of Frankfurters’ your own. How do you plea?!!”

I think Hank Cameron was too upset to really notice it was me. “I didn’t do anything I swear!!” To see such a man of authority reduced to a babbling mess was something.

The King’s eyes were cold and hard. He was about to pass judgement when an old lady wearing a robe with moons, stars, and hot dogs on it stepped out of the crowd holding a small crystal ball. Her free hand was waving over the ball while she was speaking. “My King, this is not the man who committed the evil act. The man who planted the blade is the one who is truly one with the hot dog!”

“What the hell does that mean?” The King questioned. Everyone was scratching their heads, who could that be? Most everyone here had such a deep passion and love for hot dogs.

From the corner of my eye I just happened to notice the goofy guy in the hot dog outfit who brought me here trying to sneak out. “It’s him!!” I said loudly pointing towards the door. The goof quickened his pace, I was pretty nervous the fat men of the King’s Guard wouldn’t be able to catch him. Scott pulled out one of his handguns and shot the fleeing frankfurter in BOTH knees, he’s always a good shot. Screaming in pain he was dragged before the King while Hank Cameron crawled away sobbing to his family.

The King had a tear in his eye. “Why would you, the goofiest hot dog of the court do something so foul and betray me?!”
Pausing in the pain the goof gave a twisted a smile. It looked like he was about to reply but instead the maniac pulled a small blade out in an attempt to kill the King!! Again Scott was on top of his game putting a bullet between his eyes.

After a moment of deep breathing, the King walked over to Scott and kissed his hand. “Sir, thank you for saving me. I am forever in your debt, maybe one day both the Northern and Eastern sides of Deep Suburban Lankville could put aside their trivial differences and live as one.”

Scott- now an honorary member of the 'King's Guard'

Scott- now an honorary member of the ‘King’s Guard’

“Whatever, if you owe me a favor can you get me the numbers of those two rather busty barmaids you have working for you?”

The King smiled “Someone bring me their employee files!!” Everyone on the court cheered and the party started up again like nothing had even happened. The music was playing and even better, plates of food were coming back out. Among the best was another new idea called “Micro Dogs” delightful miniature hot dogs that hit the spot.

I watched while the King place ‘The Crown of Frankfurters’ in a glass box. “This is the only one now Bri. we must take care of it. A shame it will never be eaten.” Now a tear was coming to my eye.

Sometime later the castle walls must of been opened because Gee-Temple came in with a few cops. He wanted to see the bodies but somehow during all the merriment someone removed both bodies without anyone noticing. Also no one could find the old lady with the crystal ball. Hank Cameron wanted to file charges against me and just about everyone there but the King gave his family lifetime passes to the park. I guess no report was made.

On the car ride back Scott seemed pretty pleased with himself rocking out to Lankville’s hard rock station 103.5 ‘The Hammer’. He was given a special pin- a hotdog with the words ‘King’s Guard’ scribbed into the bun. He had put it on his traditional Deep Eastern Suburban Outfit, maybe, just maybe there was hope for all the suburban areas to come together some day,

Until next time dear readers- keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

May 20, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Yesterday I had yet another appointment with my therapist, Dr. Nickelbee. My parents have been making me go more and more often because he is offering them such cheap rates. I have tried to tell them about some of the more uncomfortable things he does during our sessions but they say I’m just doing my usual ‘over exaggerating’.

So there I was on his small therapist couch smelling the flavor of his gum (because he was WAY too close) and enduring the rubbing of my leg like I was some prized pet.

“Bri, you have made such progress in the little time we have been together. Your tortured soul is like a multi-layered taco dip with us taking each layer carefully, putting it on our mouths and tasting what needs to be fixed.”

I felt like we had made zero progress; I was also slightly embarrassed when my stomach rumbled at the mention of the taco dip.

​Eddie, former owner of 'Eddie's Sub Shack' now trying something more upscale.

​Eddie, former owner of ‘Eddie’s Sub Shack’ now trying something more upscale.

“Your food articles are helping you open up more which in turn is getting us to more layers of the dip, the deep down dark good bits, the stuff I really want to hear about (he squeezed my knee really hard). We just have one problem, I feel like you are limiting yourself in what you are willing to try and write about in your articles. It’s all fun and cute writing about some greasy pizza stuff or unhealthy breakfast sandwiches but you need to try penning more complicated and refined taste profiles.”

I tried to assure him I knew all about complicated taste profiles, he just needed to try a ‘Pizza Eggwich’ if there was any doubt. This just made him squeeze my knee even harder.

“Stop being so defensive big guy. I have booked us a table at a restaurant called “Eddie’s”. I hear from all my other therapist friends that this is a true cutting edge culinary establishment, a little more ‘upscale’ shall we say. Looking at a menu on-line the prices are expensive which means it must be good.”

I doubted he had any therapist friends or any friends in general. The last thing I wanted to do was spend more time with him. I tried using the excuse that I didn’t have any money to help pay for this expensive meal.

“Don’t worry, I told your folks all about this brilliant idea of mine so they will be talking with your manager, Scott at the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ about you picking up some extra shifts to cover the expenses.”

After much eye rolling we were off and went in Dr. Nicklebee’s “wonderful, progressive and good for the environment” electric car. I thought it was just small and cramped which only continued his need to keep putting his hand on my leg. Luckily the ride didn’t last long because the car started to slow down after about a block then die completely a few minutes after that.( I guess the battery only keeps a charge for so long.)

So we were walking it the rest of the way with me secretly hoping no one would recognize me with this fool (we were only a few blocks away now from my home in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville). As we neared the shopping center it dawned on me where we might be going.

“There used to be a place called ‘Eddie’s Sub Shack’ in here. It wasn’t upscale at all in fact it got closed because of health violations. I thought the food wasn’t too bad but most people did. I think the only reason he had customers was he accepted Lankville food stamps. Oh, he also didn’t wear a shirt and usually wore a woman’s bra, that freaked people out.”

Dr. Nickelbee just shook his head and thought I was making up more ‘stories’. I was proven right when we walked into ‘Eddie’s’ and were greeted by the man himself.

“Hey Bri.”

“Hey Eddie.”

Dr. Nickelbee looked around and was clearly not impressed with the establishment. To me it was the same old restaurant filled with green plastic tables and chairs. The only difference I could make out were the floors being slightly more clean and the tables had little vases on them with flowers (many of the flowers were old and dying).

“This-this is the ‘Eddie’s’ I saw on-line? The one which said it was upscale and the food was expensive?”
Eddie nodded “Yes. Food here is very upscale and very expensive. Good-good, fancy like.”

The maple chicken.

The maple chicken.

We were shown to our table and given some menus. Again, Dr. Nickelbee wasn’t very impressed with the sticky one-sided menu written in marker but I looked past that at some of the amazing featured items. I wanted to try the ‘hotdog and scrapple potpie delight’ and the ‘deviled eggs in a mysterious cream sauce casserole’. Of course Dr. Nickelbee countered, “remember why we are here Bri, to try things out of your comfort zone. I don’t mean to put you down but I am the professional here.”

So he talked over me when Eddie came back and ordered the ‘maple chicken’ and the ‘fancy pasta with pork and quiche’. He would of course pick out the two most boring sounding items on the menu. While we waited for the food he babbled on about how I should learn ‘real food culture’, I tuned him out and turned my thoughts to the food that was coming. Once served (it did take a while, good food does) you can guess who wasn’t head over heels for it.

“What is this crap?!!! It looks like chicken nuggets over some maple syrup with a waffle thrown in!”

“Good-good. Real fancy like.” Eddie replied before walking away.

I stuck to my motto which I knew in my heart-‘keep your mouth and mind open to new ideas’. “Really this isn’t too bad. They’re using my favorite maple syrup from the store, I use it on my breakfast burritos all the time. They could of nuked the chicken nuggets a bit longer that’s my only real complaint.”

Dr. Nickelbee started to go on about how this wasn’t what he had in mind but I wasn’t listening. My eyes glazed over and I heard the faint chorus of bumpkins. I reached for my ‘little notebook of ideas’ I carry in my back pocket, inspiration had struck.

“What are you doing?!! You’re suppose to be listening to me!!”

After a few moments of writing I looked him dead in the eye– “Pizza Waffles. Just gotta find a way to connect both together—ham or Northern Lankville bacon? Syrup or not? Gotta do some experimenting at work…”

My dining companion was getting more irate. I began to question if he was maybe a little bit jealous of my creative ideas. Or even if his continued put-downs of my taste profile were just a cover of not having his own.

The real poop hit the ceiling fan (sorry Mom for that expression but I did witness that happen in this very establishment a few years back) when the next course came out.

“LANKVILLE O’S!!!! YOUR FANCY PASTA IS JUST CANNED LANKVILLE O’S!!” Dr. Nickelbee screamed.

A little side note in case you didn’t know- Lankville is known all over the world for the ‘Lankville O’s’. We were the first to mass produce little tiny pasta put in an ‘o’ shape and then canned in tomato sauce. Many have tried to make their own version and there even been wars. I can proudly say I think we still make the finest and also proud that we have a processing plant right here in the heart of Deep Northern Suburban Lankville which employs 60% of the lesser local population.

“Dr. Nickelbee please calm down,” I countered. “You don’t want to upset people by putting down ‘Lankville O’s’. It can turn ugly fast.”

​Fancy pasta with pork and quiche.

​Fancy pasta with pork and quiche.

His face was turning bright red. “BUT IT’S CHEAP PASTA–JUST LIKE YOU–I BET YOU WERE CALLED ‘CHEAP PASTA’ IN SCHOOL–YOU DISGUST ME SWIRLING THAT SAUSAGE IN THAT CHEAP TOMATO SAUCE—”

Turns out mixing some of the ham (loose meat) and sausage on the plate with the tomato sauce from the ‘Lankville O’s’ wasn’t so bad. I’m sure if we had a way at the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ of coming up with a sauce which was half as good we could make something that would put us over the edge of our rivals.

I was brought back to reality with Dr. Nicklebee screaming “I HATE YOU-I HATE YOU” over and over again and running out the front door. I was glad there was only a handful of people dining at the time– an older couple sharing a plate of ‘deviled eggs in a mysterious cream sauce casserole’ (later on they would tell me it was pretty good) and a homeless man sleeping at a table in the far corner (I guess you technically can’t count that as dining).

Eddie came over and I related the whole story to him. He was nice enough to charge me for just one of the meals ($24.95) and we agreed that if I didn’t touch the quiche (which looked gross anyway) he could serve it to someone else. Luck was also on my side since I wasn’t too far from home after such a fulfilling meal. Thanks again Eddie (and by the way nice bra today).

Now I’m sure the question on your mind is will my parents make me stop seeing Dr. Nickelbee after seeing this article? I will keep you informed my gentle readers. Until next time please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy eating-Bri

Pizza Success by Brian Schropp

May 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Things have been good at my job at ‘The Pizza-A-Round’ for awhile and recently ‘the pizza success’ seems to have kicked into high gear!! The other month I had decided to put some of my ‘culinary talents’ in action and help create some new ideas to help drive sales during ‘off peak times’. Little did I know how much of a success my ‘Mid-Morning Snack Pizza’ concept would be. My manager, Scott was almost glowing as he shared with me some reports spewing out of the noisy dot matrix printer in his pizza sauce stained office. “Jesus Christ, the mid-morning and early afternoon sales have jumped 10% since last month all because of your idea. Sure it’s a hell of a cost making that with all the shit on top but if they are willing to pay $29.95 for the damn thing, then we’ll keep making ’em. You seem to have tapped into the mind of the fat lonely teenager and what they really want from an unhealthy meal.”

​The Mid-Morning Snack Pizza for $29.95

​The Mid-Morning Snack Pizza for $29.95

Little did Scott know that I was that exact teenager some years ago and maybe, just maybe, if I had these sort of pizza options, things would of been a little brighter and the daily pantsing I received in the locker room wouldn’t of been that bad.

Just like with all of Scott’s “talks” however, the negative eventually outweighs the positive and the hammer soon came down.

“The thing is Bri, sales have dropped a little the past few days. Do you think it has the staying power to last? I’ve seen many a concept pizza come down the road only to start out with promise then end up bankrupting the place.”

I sat down in a chair which wasn’t Scott’s office chair (you NEVER sit in his chair) to think about the situation. After a moment the solution came to me (and like with many of ‘my moments’ I heard the slight chorus of bumpkins). “Hey Scott, why don’t we just give customers the option of switching out the cheeseburgers with chicken sandwiches and then the fries for onion rings? Better yet they could mix and match as they please.”

Scott stood motionless giving me ‘The Scott Look’. Did I say something wrong? Does he have a secret fear of onion rings? Was I going to make it home alive? He walked very slowly over to me, bent down and HUGGED me.

“You’re a genius,” he whispered in my ear. “A freakin’ genius.” He smelled like smoke, whiskey, guns, and what I believe to be loose women.

​The new 'Pizza Eggwich' which sells for $12.98

​The new ‘Pizza Eggwich’ which sells for $12.98

My fingers are crossed for my newest creation ‘The Pizza Eggwich’. I had been testing out various prototypes during my lunch breaks (of course paying for my attempts good or bad) and just recently hit upon what I hope is the winning formula. Giving Scott the list of ingredients (he will never try my stuff until it’s on the menu for awhile to make sure it’s safe) he has priced it at $12.98. It was given a test run just yesterday so I was curious about the results.

“You know it’s too early for any results that matter,” Scott reflected. “We did have some guy in here that ordered it and then ran to the restrooms and vomited a shit ton in a trashcan. Turns out the new guy I had on subs, Johnny, forgot to cook the egg at all and just placed it raw on the sub. Needless to say nobody will be hearing from Johnny soon. And I mean, nobody. Anyway, it’s a complicated idea made from a complicated mind so it’s going to take a while for the sandwich makers to get all the steps right. I’m putting high hopes into it and hopefully we will see sales. If this keeps up and the money really starts to come in from your ideas you know what it could mean?”

My eyes lit up, I knew exactly what he was going to say.

“I might look into getting a new managerial sink. Maybe with a plaque on it that says “Brian Schropp- Head Of Cleaning Team.”

I will of course keep you all posted on my new food creations and all the new food places that seem to spring up daily in Lankville. Until then my gentle readers, keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Trucker Joe’s Tales of the Road

May 8, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

My friend Trucker Joe loves his big rig tales. I get the impression from his countless stories that the Lankville Highway and Interstate system is a huge mangled mess that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Being that I have no license of my own (I become a “bag of nerves” whenever I try to take the driving test) I really don’t know if his stories are totally true or slightly embellished. When I’m with my folks they don’t seem to have a problem navigating around but Joe always counters that they don’t REALLY REALLY get out there and that they stick close to the burbs (plus I usually just “zone out” in the back of the car thinking of new food adventures).

Trucker Joe

Trucker Joe

Today I spent some time with Trucker Joe at the “Deep Northern Suburban Lankville Trucker’s Pool and Spa Association” (I get in free being Joe’s “guest”). Usually it’s not a bad place especially if the pool has water and it’s somewhat clean. The truckers are pretty hesitant with “outsiders” but being with him must give me some pretty good cred. In fact Joe says that’s probably what saves me from getting my throat slashed in the shower rooms. (I like to think it has more to do with my friendly personality). After a nice dip in the pool we settled down with a few cold ones (Joe had a beer and I had a refreshing diet citrus soft drink) and the tales of the Interstates began to flow.

“Bri, you might think it’s an easy life, speeding down the road with somewhat illegal contraband, wind blowing through your hair while gazing at the light purple sky of an evening’s sunset, some rambling jam band on the radio shoving their good vibes into your soul. It’s not that peachy, I know that’s the romantic spin people like you try to put on it (I tried to tell him not really but he wasn’t listening) but there is some real danger out there. Take the roads in Western Lankville for example, it seems to be the hot bed for a lot of accidents and strange happenings these days. Not sure if it’s all metaphysical stuff but I hear the people chanting in the woods just like everybody else that passes, even seen a person or two in a robe. Does that really mean the occult? People like to dress in robes to be comfortable all the time, right? But one does have to admit the roads are just plain bad out there with a lot of twists and turns. There’s a spot called “The Devil’s Bend” off of Highway 402 where you will find an accident almost every other hour. I passed by a nasty one not too long ago, one sixteen wheeler crashed right into another. One of them was hauling frozen fish sandwiches, you know like you find in the frozen aisle at Foodville (for some reason Joe shops there) and they were scattered all over the road. I think a few cars were caught up in it as well, crumpled and burning under the bottom of both trucks. Yes, people of all sorts take that bend too fast but is it because these chanting people in robes by the woods are taking over the driver’s minds and causing this? Do they also cause the tire blow outs that send trucks spinning out of control and crashing into innocent families picnicking on the side of the road? Or do they get in the heads of the families and make them have a picnic on the side of the road because that’s one hell of a place to have one if you ask me. It’s these types of trucking questions that can tear at a man’s soul.”

​

​”The Devil’s Bend” near Highway 402

I was going to mention that I had never heard of any family ever picnicking by the side of a highway and then being killed. Sadly, I was wrapped up thinking about the frozen fish sandwiches which would never be eaten. What a loss.

“Another weird area is Interstate 63 in Middle Southeast Suburban Lankville. Back in the golden heyday of trucking that was one of the finest roads to drive through. For whatever reason, they decided to put a walking lane for people to stroll down, how does that even make sense? I understand the area has fallen on hard times and the folks are poor but the merging onto it is a real pain in the ass now.”

Come on, I can believe hooded cultists causing accidents on a highway but a walking lane on the interstate? That’s a bit much.

“Joe, that sounds a little too crazy. You are either making that up or mixing something up.”

“I knew you were going to say that! Always not believing me and such. Well this time I took a picture just to prove you wrong.”

​

​”The walking lane” on Interstate 63

Joe opened his trucker’s fanny pack and took out the picture. I snatched it out of his hand.

“Jeez Joe did you take this to prove a point or did you want a picture of this woman?” He had an unhealthy obsession of taking pictures of women while on the highway.

“Don’t get sore because I am right.”

I tuned out his playful taunting and studied the picture closely for a few minutes.

Who’s to say that woman’s car broke down a few miles away and she was trying to get help? Just because you see one woman walking down Interstate 63 doesn’t mean it’s a walking lane.”

He rolled his eyes like I was the biggest idiot in the world. “BECAUSE I saw other women walking down the road, up and down the road in fact.”

“Hmmmm.” I thought about it for another minute. Why would women be walking up and down that stretch of pavement unless it really was a walking lane. “Guess you’re right–this time.”

“Well the next time we go out to eat you’re buying!!”

We sat for a little awhile taking in the sun and sipping our drinks basking in the warmth of our friendship. I was quietly building up the nerve to ask him a question. This question I ask every once in awhile in hope of finally hearing some stories. “Hey Joe, can we talk about Highway 71 now?”

​The Fried Egg Hot Dog- A trucker's dream!!!

​The Fried Egg Hot Dog- A trucker’s dream!!!

This single question turns the usually joyful trucker into a very serious one. “I don’t know if you are ready Bri, those tales make places like Highway 402 look like a field day in the park.”

Highway 71, also known as the “Badlands”, is located in South South Lankville. I have always been personally obsessed with the place ever since reading books about it as a lonely teenager in the school library. The tales of the macabre, the strange and supernatural, the utter madness!! Some say it’s all the natural gas from the mountains that make people hallucinate, others say it’s a true portal to Hell. I know Joe has driven it at least a few times and each time coming back a slightly changed man. I patiently wait for the day when he is ready to open up about it.

Before wrapping this article up I just have to mention the delight of the Trucker Spa’s eatery– most notably their “Fried Egg Hot Dog”. Sure, the eatery is usually very filthy with last night’s grease still dripping off the oven and the constant smell of urine from the nearby restrooms always in the air. Sure the cook and staff are the rudest people in the world especially to me as one of the “outsiders”. And sure they make me take off my pants and cluck like a chicken for the food I want but it’s so so worth it. The way the grease melts on the egg to the hot dog then soaking into the bun making it a soggy mess. Believe me you will want to get a truckers license just to get in and try this!!

Well until next time my gentle readers, keep your mouth and mind open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

Run To The Hills- My Adventures In The Hill Country Of Deep Northern Suburban Lankville PART ONE

April 1, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

I was up to my elbows in dishwater all the time now. Business had picked up at the “Pizza-A-Round” and my “cleaning team” was struggling to keep up. The added pressure of trying to answer the phones since Martha was now gone (please see my thrilling “To Catch A Thief” articles) didn’t help.

“BRIAN!!” Scott screamed from the prep line, hands deep in the dough of a “meat buster” calzone during a mid-afternoon rush. “These containers are filthy!!”

I looked over to my crew, Oscar and Omar. “Clean-clean!!” I yelled at them holding up a plastic container lid I was soaking in my “manager sink”. The scowls and curses (I think they were cursing I am not fluent in Soutwestern Lankvillian) I received back told me they understood.

​Oscar and Omar- my "cleaning team"

​Oscar and Omar- my “cleaning team”

A little while later Scott came storming back waving an earlier phone order in my face. “All these orders you took are messed up, either the damn address was not correct or you goofed up the order!! Do you know how much money this cost me?!! The laundry bill for the drivers to have their outfits cleaned from the angry customers who threw the food back at them in disgust will be in the hundreds alone!” He paused to calm down but couldn’t catch his breath when he saw the dishes. “Are you clowns even using hot water?! How many freakin’ times do we need to go over this?!!”

I lifted the plastic lid I was still scrubbing away at to the boys. “Hot water-hot water! Clean-clean!!” Then I banged the lid twice on the rim of my “manager sink” to drive home the point. I hoped using some of my “managerial muscle” would calm my boss down and get him off my back. Unfortunately he looked over by the emergency door.

His “Scott look” went into full overdrive. “WHAT THE HELL—-WHY HASN’T THE TRASH BEEN TAKEN OUT?!!!!”

The firing of another employee– Danny “Elf Boy” Finlay (again folks see my last two exciting articles) left the slot of trash duties open. With no one picking up the slack a week’s worth of trash collected into a disgusting mess. Well “the shit hit the pizza fan” so to speak (please pardon the obscenity, Mom) and my team was put in charge of trash detail. I tried my best in simple English and broken Southwestern Lankvillian to instruct Oscar and Omar to help me. They either didn’t seem to understand or want to help. So my next few hours were spent pulling apart sticky trash bags and taking the stinky, pungent bags to the dumpster.

Our dumpsters are located behind the strip mall we are in with a wooded area behind that. Yes it was a big task but I soon got into the “Bri Zone” in which I tune out the world and get lost in my thoughts. A few times I thought I heard some rustling in the woods but I put it out of my mind. At worst it was probably just some super squirrels and if they became a problem I would just go back inside and get one of Scott’s many handguns.

​The man by the dumpsters

​The man by the dumpsters

It wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my trash run that the source of the rustling noise became clear. When I was coming back with the final two bags there was a guy in front of them wearing a caveman like outfit and holding a spear. I was closer to him than our emergency door so I stood still– afraid that any movement might set him off. After a few moments I decided to break the ice.

“Are you here to pick up a order? You will need to go around front.”

He took a moment and then pointed his spear at me. “You-Great Bumpkin–you-come with me.”

“Wait a sec, are you homeless? If so, you better scram before Scott finds you out here.” Then it clicked. “You’re a hill person!! I can’t believe I’m seeing one in the flesh.” How could this be? I have never heard of any hill people willingly coming into the modern Deep Northern Suburban area. Was he lost? Like some sort of rabid racoon wandering far from home? Before I could inquire further I noticed another one dressed in the same cave rags out of the corner of my eye. This one was very quick and before I had time to even react I was knocked out by his spear.

As in typical form when I am knocked out (which seems to happen a great deal to me) I heard the sweet choruses of bumpkins and I fell into a blinding white light–

When I awoke I was far inside the Hill Country of Deep Northern Suburban Lankville. I recognized the area instantly from the text books of my high school days and travel brochures I saw as a kid (there used to be travel tours of this area which stopped a number of years ago when too many tourists were being attacked.) My arms and legs were tied to a giant stick that was being carried by the two who knocked me out. I hung upside down like a hog going to the “Lankville Pork Fest” for slaughter. I was also gagged and they wouldn’t respond to my muffled request for some water or some type of light snack (I was getting hungry because I had missed lunch break). They carried my mass up a steep hillside and to a clearing where a group of other hill people were waiting. Not one looked too pleasant.

​A picture of some of the beautiful yet deadly Hillside Country

​A picture of some of the beautiful yet deadly Hillside Country

I was dropped rather roughly in front of this group. The one who was clearly the leader of the tribe came forward and cut the bonds off my arms and legs and then took the gag out of my mouth. This man vaguely reminded me of someone but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He stood me up and took a good look at me. He nodded to the two who had brought me. “Yes this is him. You have done well, the Great Addanc will be pleased.” Two others from the group snatched an arm and started to drag me off. The leader walked beside us.

“Don’t worry chubby one this will be over for you soon. Your powers of wielding mighty breakfast sandwiches can not hurt us because the Great Addanc protects our tribe. Once we give you to him he will give us great powers and make us strong!! Then we, Tribe Cameron will rule the Hill Country!!”

I realized to my horror who this tribe leader reminded me of– Hank Cameron, my mortal enemy and manager of Foodville. These were his distant hillside cousins and they were taking me to some sort of danger I knew nothing about!!

Please keep an eye out for Pt.2 where things even take a stranger turn!! Until then please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas!!

BRI

Now I Understand the Pain of a South Lankvillian (A Very Special Brian Schropp)

March 11, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

My good friend Trucker Joe came by the other day to hang out and grab a bite to eat. We have both been very busy and haven’t had the time to see each other like we used to– Joe, of course, off on his “big riggin’ adventures” and me with my job at the “Pizza-A-Round” plus my new found celebrity being part-man part-bumpkin. As fate would have it, Joe’s rig was in the shop due to a minor accident he had the other week. “I just wasn’t paying attention to the road,” he told me while we both relaxed in my two very comfortable chair recliners in my basement apartment. “I was busy folding my socks coming back from the laundry. That’s the first rule of big riggin’ Bri, never fold clothes and drive your rig at the same time. And I had no idea that school buses would still be on the road that late in the evening.”

Joe's fender bender.

Joe’s fender bender.

I asked if he thought there would be any charges brought against him since some of the kids were hurt.

“I don’t think so. It was a bus from Southern Lankville up here on some sorta field trip.” There was an awkward pause. “You know how it will probably turn out.”

We both knew the injustices perpetrated against Southern Lankvillians very well. Throughout our history, they have always been seen as “inferior” to those in the northern half. It’s only been in the last hundred years that they have had any sort of “equal” rights. Both Joe and I being very liberal-minded think much more should be done but it’s hard to fight “the machine”.

After awhile the conversation turned to what was most important, where would we eat today? Joe had only one place on his mind.

“Subs ‘N’ Suds!! Subs ‘N’ Suds!!” He said banging his hands on the arms of the recliner.

He wasn’t the only one excited by the reopening of “Subs ‘N’ Suds”. Even though it had been closed because of various health violations we both never had had a bad meal there plus we thought the concept was top notch. What better way to enjoy a quality sandwich than in a nice warm tub full of bubbles soaking your worries away?

Fritz Malone with a lemur.

Fritz Malone with a lemur.

The place is owned by a man named Fritz Malone who said he always had a passion for eating in a bathtub ever since he was a child. He also has a passion for the equal rights of lemurs. Fritz believes them to be our “lost cousins” and notes that they should have rights equal to if not even more equal than South Lankvillians. Joe and I argued this with him from the tubs many a time at the old place. He never seemed to hold our views against us and always gave us a hell of a sandwich plus the best soap.

Upon arriving we were greeted warmly by Fritz and his staff but I could tell something was off almost right away. Fritz hugged Joe but only lightly patted me on the shoulder. Joe, who is usually pretty wise to his surroundings (I mean he is a trucker) got too wrapped up looking at the menu board and which tub he was going to select. The place looked about the same at least. Just imagine your typical sub/sandwich shop but instead of tables and chairs rows of nice (and always cleaned before the next customer) bathtubs. Don’t freak out– there are both men and women changing rooms!

Joe babbled on and on about what type of sub he might get while being lead by a worker to the changing rooms. I started to follow but Fritz stopped me.

“Uh Bri, how would you like to try our “VIP Room”? It’s private and out of the way, you can enjoy your meal in peace.”

I tried to tell him how I like to sit out with the other “bathtubbers” to see what they ordered. I was also there with Joe and nothing bonds two friends together than soaking next to each other and eating. Fritz was very persistent and steered me in the direction of the kitchen doors. I turned back to get Joe’s attention but he was already entering the changing rooms (still going on loudly about the subs). The kitchen was busy preparing for the lunch crowd with the smell of fresh cooking bread in the air. Fritz led me to the far back behind the food freezers and the kitchen sinks. In the corner by an emergency exit was a shower.

“Here it is- the lovely “VIP Room”! It’s been booked pretty solid since we opened but for some reason it’s not booked for our lunch today. You will love it, very nice.”

Customers preparing for their meals.

Customers preparing for their meals.

I told him it didn’t look too glamorous or special. He assured me that this was all the rage in “VIP rooms” these days. I was also concern about the lack of a changing area. Again, he said this was a “new thing” and just to close the shower curtain and throw my clothes over. This didn’t sound very relaxing. Could you shower and eat? Would it be the same? It felt very wrong but I still decided that this could be some sort of cutting edge trend that I hadn’t yet heard about.

So I got in, closed the curtain, then threw my clothes over the shower. Fritz told me he would be right back. I waited for what seemed like a very long time– the shower wasn’t all that big and it was somewhat cold back here. What was going on? Did he go to get a menu?

I heard someone finally come back. After a moment a gloved hand reached around the curtain with a sorry looking sandwich on a paper plate. “Here you go,” Fritz said.

“I didn’t order this! You didn’t even give me a menu.” I looked closer at the sandwich. “Is this even something you made or did you get this somewhere else?”

“Bri, just turn on the shower now. It will feel good and the sandwich will taste a lot better.”

I rolled my eyes and tried turning on the shower. No dice, the shower knob seemed to be rusted. I told Fritz this.

“No worries I will be back.”

The "VIP Room"

The “VIP Room”

With Fritz gone again I could definitely tell the food given me was not made here. In fact, it was made two doors down at the “Grit Spoon” a local dive which I haven’t been to in years and for good reason. What was going on here? Why was I back here? Why wouldn’t they serve me their food?

Fritz was back with promises of everything being fixed and that all I had to do was open the shower curtain. Was he finally going to stop this foolery and take me to the main room? I pulled back the curtain and found him standing behind one of his workers. The worker was wearing a hazmat suit and holding a garden hose in my direction. Before I could say anything I was being sprayed by water, the cold spray hit my face and then worked down knocking the plate out of my hand.

“See, see Bri, water feels good right? This is what all the people want in the VIP room!”

It finally dawned on me what was going on. It hit me with the force of Trucker Joe’s big rig. The problem was me.

I told them to stop the hose.

“But it’s what we do for–”

“Come on Fritz I’m not buying that anymore. I want you to tell me the truth.”

“Please Bri, you have to understand it’s nothing personal. I really like you, I really do!! But I couldn’t have you in the tubs you see–.” He trailed off and turned away from me.

“You were afraid that if someone was to use the tub after me they would somehow get “bumpkin” on them. Is that right?”

He nodded his head in shame.

“And the food, you were afraid of giving me your own food because there might be some sort of contamination?”

“People in the area they talk–”

Worker in Hazmat Suit

Worker in Hazmat Suit

“You can’t become a bumpkin just using the bathtub after someone or eating after them. No matter what people think you should know the facts Fritz. I knew you had your prejudices and maybe I overlooked them before but I now understand that is wrong no matter how good the food is.” I found the towel nearby (which was dirty) and wrapped it around me and then picked up my clothes “But I will take a reuben to go and it will be on the house.”

I walked out to find Joe. He was on his third meatball sub and his tub water was cold and dirty. After telling him the situation he stood up (without retrieving his towel) and stormed off to change into his clothes. After he came back he told Fritz that he was lucky his big rig was still in the shop or else he would have smashed it through the front doors. Joe also demanded three meatball subs on the house which Fritz made no fuss about.

A few days later I received an “electronic-mail” from Fritz apologizing about what took place. Evidently, his precious lemurs who had witnessed some of what went on are now not even giving him the time of day. He has read up on what bumpkins really are and understands some things more clearly. I can only hope he continues.

Until next time dear readers, keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

Happy Eating,
BRI

Adventures in the Red Light Pizza District by Brian Schropp

March 6, 2015 1 comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

For whatever reason, Scott, my manager at the Pizza-A-Round, has taken a real shine to me lately. Talk around “the pizza cooler” is that it’s my new found popularity/curiosity over the revelations revealed in my last article. I have heard locals and even reporters on the Lankville Action News refer to me as “Mankin”, “Bumpan” and the standard “Freak”. I’m almost like a hometown celebrity!! However, I like to feel that Scott’s sudden interest in me stems more from my hard work (dishes looking cleaner) and improving to a 26% success rate on my phone orders.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

The other Friday night after closing down the shop and securing his guns, Scott asked me if I had any Friday night plans.

I told him that the 11:30 close is pretty late for me. I would probably go home, have a midnight breakfast sandwich or two and then try watching some scrambled porn on the Lankville Cable (my parents bullheadedly refuse to subscribe).

“Listen Bri,” Scott said to me with the deadpan, serious, almost frightful look he gets sometimes. “You need to start living a little. You’re starting to get a name for yourself and you also want to write really good articles for the paper. No one is going to take you seriously unless you really live it up!! Let Chet and I take you someplace we go on Friday nights. I swear you will have fun and might learn a thing or two. Something you can put in your little articles.”

Chet Cameron, okay guy.

Chet Cameron, okay guy.

As if on cue, Chet Cameron (nephew of the dreaded Hank Cameron, manager of Foodville, (but who is actually an okay guy most of the time) came walking up wiping his dirty hands (he never washes them at work) on his standard ‘Pizza-A-Round’ shirt. “What!! We’re taking him with us?!!”

Scott walked up and whispered in Chet’s ear. His eyes suddenly became wide and he smiled. “Hey Bri, you can have the front seat!!”

So, with that we locked the front doors and sped off in Scott’s 1987 Neptune blasting some old hard rock classics. I wondered where we were going, a diner perhaps? Maybe some type of late night book club which served some delicious offbeat food?

Driving into the heart of Downtown Lankville and the red light district I became a bit nervous. And when we pulled up to our destination I was even more so. It was one of the many topless pizza places springing up around Lankville which many social and religious groups are trying to shut down. I tried to voice my concerns about going in but they would have none of it.

“Bri, the pizza here is top notch ,” Scott said, checking to make sure he had a gun in his waistband. “You can make a review of it!!”

“Yeah, there are also a few other top notch things in there as well!!” Chet ‘joked’ rubbing my shoulders. They both laughed but I didn’t get it. Did they serve pizza bites as well?

unnamed

​The bright lights, the loud music, half-naked people fondling each other, it was like an alien world to me and that was just the parking lot!! We walked inside and were greeted by a “host” named Roberto who seem to know Scott and Chet well. I was taken aback for a moment as I stared further in and saw the various platforms with women of all sorts swinging from poles. I returned to reality when I saw a waitress pass by with a menu and then began to think about the pizza Scott had mentioned.

Roberto tried to seat us at a table that was far back from all the action but Scott shook his head. Scott pointed to me and said something to Roberto (couldn’t hear because the music was very, very loud)– whatever it was delighted him. Roberto ran over and grabbed my hand and led all three of us to a table very close to one of the platforms. He kept saying something to me like “Bumpkin Man” over and over (again the music was LOUD and I couldn’t really hear). Very soon Roberto had a few topless waitresses bring over some drinks which were “on the house.” I wanted just a water but several colorful mixed drinks were put in front of me. I am of course wary of the dangers of alcohol so I didn’t partake. Scott and Chet on the other hand started drinking them like they were going out of style. I tried to ask one of the sweaty boobed waitresses for a menu but they kept bringing drinks. Scott and Chet seemed to like it, I felt the body odor was going to turn me off from eating (although I was terribly hungry by now).

Roberto, the club owner.

Roberto, the club owner.

Roberto started bringing people over and introducing them to me. City Officials, D-list actors (some who I recognized from direct to video movies), and even some actresses who might have been on the scrambled porn channels I would be watching if I was at home. On one hand it was nice to feel popular but I was starting to get light-headed from not eating. I wanted to tell Scott but he was taking full advantage of all the women coming our way (Chet as well). I finally got Roberto’s attention and he promised me that a new pizza he had his kitchen create just for me was on its way. He was calling it the “Bumpkin Delight”.

I became even more light-headed. The lights, the noise, the sweat all started to get to me and I fell into a daydream about the pizza that was coming. When I finally came around I found a woman (old enough to be my grandma!!) sitting in my lap. Her name was “Honey Rose” and she was the oldest and most sought after stripper in the red light district (or so she said). She was whispering sweet nothings and other crude assortments in my ear. I took a look over her shoulder and realized I was out of it longer than I thought and the “Bumpkin Delight” was already at the table. But the worst part was the other people who were crowding around the table were already eating it!!

Honey Rose, the oldest pizza stripper in the district.

Honey Rose, the oldest pizza stripper in the district.

I desperately tried to work my arms around Honey Rose to get a slice but she was a real pro. She kept whispering in my ear while fondling me up, down and all around (my left man boob was mighty sore the next day). As fate would have it the pizza was soon gone. It took me a few more minutes but I soon got “Honey Rose” off my lap and I made my to find the kitchens to see if they could make another pizza.

Fighting the crowd who wanted to meet me and “touch a mankin to see what it feels like” I found a side hallway which lead to the kitchen. It was a large area which was quite messy and seemed to be lacking any cooks. I called out if anyone was in here and if they could bake me another “Bumpkin Delight”. I heard a squeak from around the corner and a clattering of dishes. I made my way over to the sinks and to my horror found a small creature huddling in a corner wearing an apron and washing gloves. What made it even worse was that it was chained by the ankle. I moved forward and tried to tell it that everything would be ok but it shrank back shaking and squealing louder. And my heart sank when I realized that this was actually a bumpkin.

At that moment Roberto showed up, he wasn’t pleased that I was back in his kitchen. Something took hold of me, not sure if it was my hunger or my shock of seeing one of my half-kind being treated like a slave. I grabbed Roberto by his jacket and slammed him hard against the wall and yelled why would you do such a thing. I instantly realized my mistake, I was no fighter and he was much stronger. He grabbed me by my pizza shirt and slammed me against the wall. Before he could beat me black and blue there were two gunshots. Scott had showed up in the nick of time, he had fired the shots into the ceiling “Let him go Roberto!!”

The "Bumpkin Delight" I never got to try.

The “Bumpkin Delight” I never got to try.

The shots had set off the water sprinklers and the alarms. Roberto let me go and I explained the situation to Scott. He pointed the gun right at Roberto “How dare you chain up his kind and use it as slave labor!!”

Roberto dropped to his knees with his hands raised. The water from the sprinklers was pouring over him.

“That isn’t a bumpkin you idiots!! It’s my pet monkey, “Ralphie”. I use him to cook the food and wash the dishes to save on money.”

Sure enough “Ralphie” jumped over to Roberto’s arms and started hopping up and down. Upon closer inspection I could see it was a monkey, maybe my light-headedness and talk of a “Bumpkin Delight” pizza got me confused. I tried to apologize to Roberto but Scott told us we had to get out fast. The bouncers were coming down the hall and it wasn’t going to be pretty when Roberto had back up. Scott and I bolted out the emergency exit just before a few bullets buzzed over our heads!!

Outside the strippers and customers stood around soaked from the sprinklers and wondering what was going on. Sirens could be heard in the distance. Scott yelled at me to run to the car as fast as I could. Luckily Chet was waiting with the motor running. “Honey Rose” ran up to me before I could get in. “Bri, will I ever see you again?” I squeezed her hand and told her I would never forget her. Scott kept telling me to get in the car.

Ralphie the monkey, who I mistook for a bumpkin.

Ralphie the monkey, who I mistook for a bumpkin.

We started to speed away with the music blasting when the bouncers reached the parking lot. Only a few more shots were fired and by that time we were a good distance away.

I was afraid Scott was going to be mad at me for losing his favorite Friday night spot. He chuckled and said there were plenty of topless pizza places around Lankville. I could tell he really had taken a shine to me!!

Well until next time please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas!

Happy eating!!-Bri

UPDATE- My Talk with a Bumpkin Specialist

February 25, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

Dr. Carl Woodard is the leading specialist in all things bumpkin. Following the shocking revelation of my last article, my folks wasted no time in setting up an appointment. Blood work and all sorts of crazy “pre-testing” needed to be done (I had to run on a treadmill hooked up to a bunch of machines and sleep upside down in a deperivation tank the other night) but it all should shed light on this matter. A few days later we sat down with Dr. Woodard in his office.

“Amazing!!” He exclaimed looking through the results. “Simply stunning!”

“Just give it to me straight Doctor, does my son have Bumpkin DNA?” My father gripped my mom’s hand tightly.

Dr. Carl Woodard, Bumpkin Specialist

Dr. Carl Woodard, Bumpkin Specialist

“Yes—–and no.” Dr. Woodard could see the confusion in our eyes. “But first a little background before I explain the results.”

I groaned. I figured on this being a long history and I was getting kind of hungry.

“It was long believed that humans and bumpkins couldn’t mate. Sure there were times, much like you stated Mr, Schropp, that maybe distant family relations have had “pleasure” or as your son might better understand it, “doing the nasty” with them. You see, being two different species, mating is almost an impossibility, we have never found that genetic link between humans and bumpkins. But these findings show we have something wrong.”

“So my family bloodline is somehow tainted with bumpkin?” My Dad put his face in his hand and sobbed.

“That’s the funny thing Mr. Schropp, the blood work from all your other immediate family and relatives show no signs of any Bumpkin DNA. Even the Schropp Hill People that we captured in traps to test show no signs either.”

My Mom chimed in. “So it’s only my son then? I always knew something wasn’t right.”

“Well that’s another funny thing, your son has neither Bumpkin or Human DNA. He has the perfect blend of both DNA almost like an entirely new species in itself.” He let that sink in for a moment.

“So, what is my son?”

“You could say that either your son is a highly advanced bumpkin or a slightly lower-evolved human.” He turned and looked directly at me. “You know how to read and write at some basic level, correct?”

I nodded.

“Amazing.”

A stunned Dr. Woodard ponders this development.

A stunned Dr. Woodard ponders this development.

My mom at this point kept muttering under her breath, “I knew there was something wrong. I knew there was something wrong.”

“I really wish I could explain how something like this could happen. My only working theory is that the genetic makeup of a bumpkin is so alien to us that it somehow evolves with humans at a slower rate and in ways we don’t understand. Maybe your son is just a result of that.”

My dad voiced concern over how I might be treated when the public finds out.

“I have spoken with President Pondicherry personally and we have both agreed to put your son on the “Lankville Endangered Species” list so none harm can come. And since technically he does have part Human DNA he will retain Lankville citizenship and full rights.”

It was now my turn for a few questions. “Could this explain my “advance taste profile” and also my “sweet and tender” nature?”

“Well, it’s a fact that bumpkins are less-evolved than us and by our standards not very bright. But we have found them to be very empathic and caring much like the way a common house dog will respond to human affection. The story you told me over the phone about the bumpkin in the alleyway at Christmas time, maybe that one could “sense” that you were somehow at least part bumpkin and that’s why it came up to you. Bumpkins also seem to possess a different sense of taste than us. They have a particular fondness for tree bark and car coolant for example. We have always thought of this as being somehow inferior to our own but I suppose it could seen as an “advanced taste pallet”, as you suggest.”

I also asked if Hank Cameron, Manager of Foodville, could be arrested for trying to harm me since I was now an endangered species. Dr. Woodard is not a lawyer but said Hank Cameron would probably have to do something now since I was just being put on the list. My mom then told be to be quiet and not ask foolish questions.

Much more talking was done between my folks and Dr. Woodard but I tuned them out. I started to think about where we might go for lunch since it was quickly becoming that time. I was hoping to get my folks to take me somewhere they would usually say no to like “Wally’s Chilli Cheese Fries On Waffles” (a pretty straightforward name for a delicious place). Then I started to think about the news I was told and how it might impact me. No matter what I am- bumpkin or human or both, my love for breakfast sandwiches and writing about cuisine is what matters, so dear readers I will carry on with these goals. Until next time please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas!!

Happy eating!!!
BRI

A Double Dose of Doomsday

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

CUISINE BY BRIAN SCHROPP

This past Friday was of course the 13th- also known as “St. Doomsday’s Day”. A day many of us in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville take very seriously. With all the bad luck and disastrous history that happens on our soil we usually keep our heads down and just try to make it through in one piece. I foolishly thought I would get by unharmed this year, you see the day after is my birthday. That’s right- I was born on February 14th or what is known in Lankville as “Sweet Heart Day.” I have always found it fitting to be born on that day seeing how it goes with what my relatives say is my “sweet and tender” nature. So I was lucky enough to get the day off from my part-time job at the “Pizza-A-Round” and was planning on enjoying it to the fullest by trying a new brand of breakfast sandwich and then maybe reviewing the newly reopened “Subs ‘N’ Suds” later in the day. I just had to make it through the 13th and arrogantly thought I could. How wrong I was—

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

The 13th started with a 9AM shift at the “Pizza-A-Round”. I envisioned another day on dish washing detail (slowly but surely learning each job right) and at very worse a few hours of phone duty (I personally think I’m getting better, my accuracy rate was up to 20%). My manager Scott had other plans for me.

“Nope Bri, none of that usual stuff you crap around doing. Today you will be on the prep station and then PUTTING THE PIZZAS IN THE OVEN.

The hustle and bustle going on around the whole shop came to a screeching halt after Scott uttered those words. There were a few seconds of eerie silence and then someone dropped a pizza cutter which made a loud clang as it hit the floor. Chet Cameron finally spoke, “Do…do you think that’s a wise idea? I mean you know what today is—“

Scott shook his head. “What superstitious nonsense. Anyway, two folks are out with the “Lankville Super Flu” so we have little choice. Chet, I’m putting you in charge of the prep line and him so don’t mess up. Remember what can happen.” Scott lifted up his shirt to show one of his handguns tucked in his waistband.

So I joined the “prep line boys”. I could tell by all their faces that they had zero faith in me. Chet tried to say something encouraging but couldn’t find the words. Soon, it was 10 and the first orders were coming in called by the usual fat teenagers. Luckily the first order was just a plain cheese pizza.

“You can do it Schropp,” Chet said with a nervous tone in his voice. So I set out to make the pizza of a lifetime. With sweat dripping from my forehead (sorry if anybody actually got this pizza) I took the dough and pressed it out to its “classic” pie shape, took the shinning ladle and swirled around the sauce, grabbed the cheese (again, sorry if someone received this- I forgot to wash my hands) and sprinkled it on. I then placed it in the oven (you have to time it just right!!). I turned my back, too nervous to watch it go through and waited the 4.5 minutes it took to cook. I was finally hoping to make a big impression, I had put all I had into making this.

I knew this wasn’t going to be the case when I heard Chet mutter “What the hell is that?” and Scott yell “Get up here!!”

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The results.

I walked up to the front of the oven and he showed me my results–

​”Not sure what this is!!” My manager’s eyes blazed into me “But you better start learning how to make at least a plain pizza fast. The lunch rush is about to start!!”

Chet pleaded with me to get my “A-Game” on because he didn’t want to be shot. I became overwhelmed quickly with the pre-pre-pre lunch rush due to all this pressure of having Chet’s life in my hands. So many pizzas to make and most of them with various forms of pepperoni and I was getting them wrong. But my biggest mistake came in placing them in the oven. They have to be in placed in the oven just right, too many at once and then it will become a “doomsday” situation with the pizzas not cooking right. And that is exactly what happened– the big red lights on top of the oven began to glow and whirl. The oven came to a grinding stop and started to smoke, a few men ran over with fire extinguishers to put it out. The day was totally ruined, just like that.

Scott became enraged like few had ever seen before. Chet didn’t stick around– he just ran out the back door. Scott went on and on (thankfully yelling too much to remember his gun) about how much of a screw-up I was. How he should have fired me on the first day but the owner said he had to keep me on. “I can’t believe how useless you are Schropp even for a—” Then he said it. The second “doomsday” of the day and the greater one. The one which will change my life forever.

There was total silence again, even the telephones stopped their constant ringing– it was almost as if all of Lankville heard. A few seconds later the pizza cutter from before was dropped making the same loud clanging noise.

Scott’s anger instantly went away. “Bri, hey listen man, I’m- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to find out this way. I wasn’t supposed to say anything-”

In complete and utter shock I ran out the front door and headed for home. I could hear Scott trying to call me back but it was just a faint buzz, I didn’t stop the whole twenty eight blocks it took me to get there. Cars had to swerve out of my way, women had to push their baby strollers off the sidewalks if I was passing. I really didn’t see any of them I just had to get home and confirm what was said. Maybe I heard it wrong, this couldn’t be real.

When I flung the front door open my folks were waiting for me. The “Pizza-A-Round” must of called.

“Is it true?” I asked, panting for breath.

“Please son let’s just sit down and talk,” my Dad replied, holding out his hand.

“Just tell me!!!”

“Yes, it’s true. Sit down we will discuss this.”

I collapsed at the kitchen table. My mom brought me a glass of chocolate milk.

“How can this be Dad?” I needed answers.

My folks and I discussing the shocking events.

My folks and I discussing the shocking events.

My Dad told of our family history– not of the Schropp’s I knew but of the Schropp’s of the Greater Hills of Deep Northern Suburban Lankville. I thought we might have had hill folk in us but how could I ever have imagined what they did. “It was just a common thing, son. Especially back in the day, sure we who didn’t live in the hills thought it was wrong but there was little we could do.”

“So are you sure? Are you sure that I can somehow, in some little way have bumpkin in me?” I had to pause and put my head down, the chocolate milk wasn’t helping with the shock.

“I mean it’s the only logical way of explaining how you are,” my Mom chimed in. “In some freak way you have bumpkin DNA. In you.”

“Something else I need to know right now. Can I be…you know…if I really am found to be one.”

“You mean put down? No son you also have normal DNA or so we hope. Please don’t worry over that.”

We talked on for a little while longer. Honestly, most of it like the whole day itself is just a blur. My Dad said he found a place where I can be tested to see how much bumpkin DNA I might have. This should be happening very soon and I will of course let you, the readers, know of the results. Until then please keep me in your thoughts (and eat something good for me!!)

BRI

Odds and Ends by Brian Schropp

January 23, 2015 Leave a comment
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

Another cooking tip I have learned the hard way– when preparing any type of pasta MAKE SURE THE WATER IS AT A FULL BOIL BEFORE PUTTING THE PASTA IN!!! You can’t just put a pot of water on the stove, start heating it, and throw the pasta in at any point. (Thanks Mom) And DO NOT add any type of sauce while the pasta is in the water– you need to heat the sauce separately. I know, it’s boring standing there waiting but some things are worth the wait! Despite these minor setbacks in the kitchen, I still believe that in the future I will pull off the creation of some sort of breakfast-style pasta option. I recently made a chipped beef on garlic bread which was a big hit to me (not so much the family) and feel I am on the cutting edge of a possible new and exciting food trend.

People have been writing to me this past week asking if I was upset that Hank Cameron, Manager of Foodville, took all frozen breakfast sandwiches options out of the store. Hey, it’s no skin off my nose if that jerk wants to bankrupt his store. I only hope the owners of Foodville will read my 27-page letter (which I mailed the other day) where I plead my case for why this man is incapable of running any type of grocery. I highlighted the most scandalous things (like changing the expiration dates on the honey baked hams and marking up the price of East Island sausage whenever he thinks some East Islander is coming into the store) in case they don’t want to read the whole thing. Actually 24 out of the 27 pages were rendered in a comic book type format to make it easier to read. I can only hope the owners will be smart enough to listen before it’s too late!!

Hank Cameron-- nearing the precipice.

Hank Cameron– nearing the precipice.

The BSU (Breakfast Sandwich Underground) has taken action against Mr. Cameron by sending fake pizza deliveries to his house non-stop (with the bills on some exceeding $100 a pop!!). And with thousands of pizza delivery options in Lankville, and with many of them open 24 hours, I don’t see this stopping anytime soon. One of the members said they drove by his house yesterday and there was four different delivery cars in the driveway and pizza boxes stacked up against each side of the front door (doesn’t the fool realize you can’t leave the food out there like that or else you will attract Super Squirrels?). The person also noted that Hank Cameron was chasing one of the delivery guys around his yard with a rake in his hand, yelling at the top of his lungs. Has Mr. Cameron reached his breaking point? Shouldn’t he do us all a favor and maybe go on a extended vacation somewhere?

The promise of the new sub shop off Blackenship Rd. proved to be a hollow one. The owners opened their doors with the delivery of the actual sub rolls still not there. So they decided to try a “high-five special” where they actually high-fived the meat and toppings of the sub into the customer’s hands. Well, the sweat from the hands got the better of most people and the vomit flowed like wine. The health department was there in no time to shut the place down and beat the owners once the doors were closed (customary procedure, I’m told). Blackenship Rd. has been cursed by the lack of a good sub shop for a long while. The last one– “Subs’N’Suds” was a promising idea in which you were served your subs while taking a bath in an old fashion bathtub. If they only fully thought out the idea (like changing the bath water between customers) maybe the health department would of allowed them to remain open. Keep your fingers crossed a decent sub shop will find a home there soon.

Please remember to keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

Happy eating!!
BRI

Fudge Floats and Sweet Kisses

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

It was January 3rd and the annual Deep Northern Suburban Fudge Festival was in full swing. Unlike most years when it was so cold that the fudge would actually stick to you (usually sending the careless kids, the elderly and the retarded to the hospital) it was slightly warmer meaning a bigger crowd. Fudge vendors from all over Lankville pitch their tents and booths along the main streets while the “Parade of Fudge Delights” travels pass. A lot of floats this year were made out of actual fudge which was a nice touch but with the weather was melting them quickly.

Scenes

Scenes from the Deep Northern Suburban Fudge Festival

All the young men lined up at the end of the parade route waiting for the “Fairy Princess of Fudge” to come on her glorious white peppermint bark float and select one lucky guy to kiss. It was always the highlight of the parade and said to bring good luck to the Deep Northern Suburban area from all the “ancient evils” of the surrounding woods. Now I know I am older than most who lined up but truth be told I hoped that would give me the edge. I was “dressed to the nines” as they say. I had on my nice breakfast sandwich themed sweater (thanks again for the awesome Xmas present Mom!!), my wrinkle free capris and some smart dress shoes. I popped a few mints in my mouth and wiped the sweat from my brow, I knew this was going to be my year!!

We waited anxiously watching float after float of fudge-related wonderment. I heard a shout from a few rows back and instantly recognized the voice.

“Hey look everybody- Brian Schropp is here. I wonder if he is going to tell us if the fudge is poisoned!!” (Please see my last article to reference this “joke”).

Yes, it was my nemesis Nathan Rowback lining up for his shot at a kiss. His cronies laughed and a few others in the crowd but not many.

“Hey Nathan, good luck getting the kiss. You will need to write about how it feels for a forty year old man to get his first kiss in that little fanzine of yours.”

Boom!! From the chorus of laughter I knew I hit the mark. Nathan with his cronies behind stormed off-what a dweeb!!!

Time passed and we were growing antsy. Then from around the corner of Rogers Ave we saw the top of the white peppermint bark float coming. Many of the younger lads instantly fainted but we seasoned vets rubbed our hands together praying for the chance.

The sketch is how I remember the princess looking in my "vision" the second is the actual princess.

The sketch is how I remember the princess looking in my “vision”.

The crowd surged forward as the float drew nearer, some slight pushing and shoving started to happen as we jockeyed for the best position. I’m still trying to piece together the events that happened next. Not sure if it was from the crowd surge or if someone pushed me (not sure if one Mr. Rowback did not come back) but I was pushed into the street just as the princess float was going by. My head bounced off the corner of the white fudge castle and I was knocked out.

There was only darkness for a long time and then I saw a faint white light which grew bigger. As it grew I started to hear music, that same beautiful music I heard before accompanied by the ethereal voices of the bumpkins. (Please refer to my “Waffle House of Shame” article for my experience with this). I traveled into the light and found myself in a forest entirely made out of shiny majestic white fudge. And standing just a few yards away was the Fairy Princess of Fudge herself looking more gorgeous than I could ever imagine. Small bumpkins danced around her, some had tails and some were even flying!!

The Princess smiled before speaking, her smile brought complete joy to my soul. “Brian, you are a special one, such a sweet delicate boy. You are on a special mission– one that will be revealed to you this year. Please remember to keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.”

The actual Fairy Princess of Fudge.

The actual Fairy Princess of Fudge.

I tried to speak but she already knew what I was going to ask. “Yes, Hank Cameron, Manager of Foodville, is a bad man. Be careful around him.”

She then floated forward and gave me a sweet gentle kiss on the lips. “Remember” she whispered and I was soon through the light again and back to this reality.

The real Fairy Princess of Fudge was giving me mouth to mouth when I opened my eyes. The crowd cheered when they realized I wasn’t dead (only a few booed) and the chant of “Breakfast Sandwich Boy” began. The real princess wasn’t nearly as pretty as the one in my “out of body experience” but the festival judges decided that the mouth to mouth was also the kiss!! It was all coming up Schropp today!

Later in my basement apartment I pondered what had happened and if it was truly real. In my heart of hearts I know it to be true but what could the special mission be? Did it have anything to do with breakfast sandwiches?

Well, however this plays out I will keep you posted, Until next time please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

Happy eating!!
BRI

A Christmas Tale by Brian Schropp

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment
Brian Schropp

Brian Schropp

Cuisine

Cuisine

The hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season was going on all around me. My folks dropped me off in downtown Lankville with twenty bucks and talk of me getting gifts for my siblings (I was recently relieved of my part time job at “Pete’s Slacks Emporium” for not “making sales” so I had no money). The first thing I did was buy some pizza fries because my stomach was rumbling–that brought down the holiday gift money to $14.60. Unsure of what my siblings would want and pretty certain they wouldn’t get me ANYTHING, I lightly perused the various knick knacks in the gift shop windows and the various wares of the street pitches with little success. I became distracted by a billboard which was introducing a new frozen breakfast sandwich. Their promise of having the ultimate in breakfast sandwiches left me a little excited but highly skeptical since I had never heard of the company. I took out my “reporter’s notepad” to write down their name. It was a few moments after putting my notepad away that I realized my wallet was gone!! I got so wrapped up in the billboard I left myself open to simple petty theft (extremely common in Lankville, as we all know).

I looked around to see if I could spot anybody who might look suspicious. There were just too many people walking in their quickened holiday pace, bumping into me, not noticing I needed help. Luckily one gentlemen noticed my troubles and stopped. “Say there you look quite upset. Is something wrong?”

“My–my wallet was stolen, taken from me in a flash!! My Lankville scooter license, my coupons for all the various food buffets and my holiday gift money, all gone!!”

The gentleman shook his head in disgust. “Yup, that’s life in the big city for you. You gotta’ watch out for pickpockets and challengers. Say, I have some cash on me– maybe if you had something to sell me?”

I turned out my pockets. I had nothing.

“How about those shoes? They look kinda nice, say I will give you a sweet twenty dollar bill for them?”

I thought about it for a moment. Sure, these were new high tops my mom got me but that twenty would bring me back up to my original amount. It would be like having those pizza fries for free!! I took them off and we made the exchange. After a handshake and a few more holiday pleasantries he was gone.

Sure, these were new high tops my mom got me but that twenty would bring me back up to my original amount. It would be like having those pizza fries for free!!

I was shaken up by this whole pickpocket affair and quickly came up with a simple plan, find some gifts and then wait at the pick up spot for my folks. A few doors down I found a store that sold relatively cheap but bright and sparkling jewelry plus a few other plastic odds and ends. I knew this was the place and went in. The woman cashier sourly informed me that I needed shoes to shop. I told her I would be really quick so I grabbed a handful of bright dazzling bead necklaces and a few plastic toys that looked retro. The total came to slightly under twenty and I handed her my bill. She took out a marker and swiped it across the note. “Sir, this bill is counterfeit.” I tried to tell her I just got it from a nice gentleman and it couldn’t be so. She showed me the black mark it left on the bill and also pointed out that the image of President Pondicherry was hand-drawn (and poorly!) and told me that unless I had real money I had to leave the store.

My options were limited. I was back out walking up the street. A few blocks later my feet were getting cold but it was bearable. I stopped at a corner and again became distracted by a small flyer on a lamp pole. It was about a new buffet in the area but the print was really small so I had to lean in close. I didn’t notice the horde of shoppers crossing the street from a light change and after a few heavy bumps my glasses fell off!! The people didn’t seem to notice (being in their own holiday world) and when I was finally able to pick them up, my glasses were crushed.

Did Schropp have a back alley encounter with a bumpkin? The Lankville Daily News: ESSENTIAL READ

Did Schropp have a back alley encounter with a bumpkin? The Lankville Daily News: ESSENTIAL READ

Now, I am not totally blind without my glasses but it does make for quite the hardship. I tried to retrace my steps to get to where my designated pick up spot was but got lost in the maze of downtown. I was soon overwhelmed and a slight panic attack was setting in. A seemingly kind lady came up to me with a concerned look. I explained all that had happened to me. “You seem in a bad spot kid. If you had a few dollars it could mean all the difference in getting out of here and safely back home.” I agreed with her.

“Now if you only had something you could sell me.”

I told the woman that I wasn’t going to fall for that scam again. She pulled out five one dollar bills.

“You can’t counterfeit dollar bills, only large bills. Have you ever seen anyone try counterfeiting with a one or five, it’d be senseless. It’s always with a twenty or fifty.” I saw her logic in this.

“If you want to give me your socks, your pants and that notepad in your shirt pocket you can have this money.”

“Can’t you just give me the money in the spirit of Christmas or something along those lines?” She shook her head and told me you could never have something for nothing. “This is Lankville,” she pointed out.

I wasn’t sure what I should do. Those five bucks might get me out of here, yet I would be half naked. My deciding factor was that the special thermal “hugger” boxers I was wearing looked like long gym shorts. So the exchange was made. After a few awkward holiday pleasantries I was back on my way.

It was good to have the cash but now I was getting a lot more stares. A few blocks later I was no sooner finding my way that the cold was setting in and late afternoon was turning to dark. I saw a street vendor selling hotdogs and decided to use my five dollars to buy some to keep warm. The vendor sourly told me he usually only sells hotdogs to people wearing pants but would make an exception. I kindly thanked him and ordered two. He took out the same type of marker the lady had in the store and made a line through them. “These are fake son.”

I tried to tell him that you couldn’t counterfeit dollar bills but he told me to get lost. I found a park bench and sat down defeated. A sweet but smelly homeless man sat beside me and we were soon trading our tales of woe. He took out a small bottle and told me this could help with some of my woes and maybe give me some “Christmas cheer”. I took a few swallows and at first felt nothing, then a burning in my throat and chest. A moment after that I was feeling really really good. I honestly don’t remember much after that for awhile, I vaguely recall running around with this homeless man screaming and yelling, maybe the cops chasing us at one point?LN real small

I passed out and was shaken awake some time later. I was in an alleyway. It was still nighttime and it was snowing, big beautiful white flakes. A small, alarmed figure shook my shoulder again and then darted away behind some trash cans. I mumbled it was okay to come out, there was no need to be frightened. And much to my surprise out stepped a bumpkin who for some reason was dressed like a Christmas Elf. I smiled and he (maybe she) smiled back with buck teeth shimmering in the white snow. The bumpkin came back up to me and whispered something in my ear with its sweet high pitch whine which sounds like gibberish. The bumpkin wanted me to hold out my hand and drop three acorns into it. The bumpkin smiled at me again and then was gone into the night. I passed out yet again.

I awoke to the sound of a car horn blaring. It was almost dawn and the sound of the horn was coming from my parent’s car. I looked down at myself. I was a complete filthy mess wearing only a trash bag around my waist. Two other homeless men were sleeping on each side of me. I knew I had a lot of explaining to do. On the car ride home, I allowed my parents lecture– “far too old for this stuff to happen to me” and “maybe I really do need help” to fade into the background. I jingled the three acorns in my hand while staring out the window. Maybe this season isn’t about flashy presents or stealing someone’s pants for a few bucks. Maybe it’s about simple goodwill either to human or bumpkin kind. Happy Holidays everyone and remember to keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas!!

Happy Eating,
BRI