A Good Meal, a Bad Dog, and a Mountain Wedding

View from the Street
View from the Street

It’s easy to make good food from a recipe, but hard to invent good recipes. In downtown Elkins we stumbled across something new to us on the menu in the Venezuelan restaurant El Gran Sabor. In Castilian Spanish that translates to Great Flavor. That they deliver.   We ordered cold ones with salsa and chips, both of which were the same as anywhere else. After that we took a flyer on a dish we’d never heard of: Cachapas. Kat ordered pork filling and I got beef. Black beans, ham and cheese, and a vegetarian version were on the road not taken. Cachapas turned out to be a Venezuelan/Colombian street vendor staple.   Each consists of a sweet corn pancake wrapped over something like shredded beef barbacoa or pulled pork carne guisado along with pureed dipping sauces, one green and one pink. I heard “cabbage” and “tomato” described as their bases, but the flavors went light years beyond their base. The prices are certifiably insane: cachapas are $4 and each is enough for an old guy’s dinner. We may go there every week.


Beef Cachapas Plate
Beef Cachapas Plate

Every evening around 8:00 we ride our golf cart over the rec area looking for garbage cans that hold KFC bones, half a Happy Meal, or sandwich remnants. If we miss one, the next morning the raccoons will have spread the packaging across an acre.   “The usual suspects” are cans near that day’s picnics, or near any pavilion rented, or occupied by squatters.  Yesterday some people came in around six and promptly began grilling.   Two hours later they were packing up to leave. We approached to see if they were through putting food scraps in the cans, whereupon their border collie made a run at us. He seemed hungry for human leg meat (mine) so I turned the cart into his attack to thwart him. It did, but not before The Kat yelled out “Leash that dog!” The teenish daughter of the group screamed back “I saw the sign!” only to earn deep claw wounds from my Kat who thundered “I’m glad you can read. Now work on your comprehension!”


Here's What I Saw
Here’s What I Saw

The day use pavilions at Stuart were built by the CCC in the 1930’s. Much in the world has changed since then. Jet planes, men on the moon, CAT scans, and nuclear energy have all come about since those Depression days. The guys who built our pavilions surely envisioned them housing future picnics, birthday parties, or maybe even wedding receptions. But they could not have imagined this wedding reception. These fellows had been together ten years, and one of them changed his last name. The one who kept his surname was getting the fish-eye from his new spouse, possibly because he’d enjoyed a wee bit too much spiked punch. Hey, that’s a wifely duty.


Ready for the Caterer
Ready for the Caterer
Decorated for the Reception
Decorated for the Reception

There was a magnificent sunset that evening through the fog following a brief thunderstorm.   Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture:  too busy emptying cans before the ‘coons could.


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