Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Foodie Fairytale

Dilly Dan was a pickle man, selling his gherkins and garlics on the corner of 1st avenue and 12th street. His cart was in the shape of a dill and he wore a uniform of all green, down to his socks and shoes. Dan lived for pickles. He ate them at every meal, canned them, sold them and slept on a green pillow.

All was green and briny in Dan’s world until the day a new food cart opened for business across the street.

Funnel Fran was a funnel cake girl, a fourth generation food cart vendor. Her great grandfather Penny Candy Stan the Cheap Candy Man opened a cart on 4th avenue in 1932 selling licorice, bubble gum and ribbon candy. Fran’s grandfather Corndog Bob operated his cart throughout Central Park. He passed the cart onto his son, Fran’s dad, who transformed into Apple Pie Peter whose pies were known all over the five boroughs.

Funnel Fran opened her cart across the street from Dilly Dan on a warm July morning. It only took until the afternoon for Funnel Fran to be out of ingredients. The local people were crazy for her cakes. Meanwhile, Dan had only sold one pickle, a Texas Dill to a small child who took a bite and dropped it down the storm drain.

That evening Dilly Dan concocted a plan to get his business back from Funnel Fran. Dilly Dan was a big fan of plans as well as cheese in a can, spray tans and ’64 Chevy oil pans. When Dan made his way to 1st avenue the next morning he was sans cans, tans or pans. In his mind he carried only his plan. And in his arms he carried a 5 gallon drum of pickle brine.

He found Fran hard at work inside her cart. She had four plastic containers each filled with her famous funnel cake batter. Dan needed to distract his rival so he set her cart on fire. While Fran sprayed the flames with an extinguisher, Dan snuck into the cart to pour his pickle brine into the funnel cake batter. Dan stirred the juice into the batter until you couldn’t tell it was there.

Dilly Dan snuck away to watch from the shadows as Fran’s business was ruined when she sold funnel cakes that tasted like pickles. However, to Dan’s astonishment, people loved them. Fran couldn’t make them fast enough. The line at her cart stretched across the road, blocking traffic. Drivers abandoned their cars to purchase a Funnel Fran funnel cake.

Dan got in line himself and purchased one of Fran’s confections. As he ate it he fell into a state of bliss he didn’t know existed. The combination of the sweetness of the sugar, the thickness of the dough and the tartness of the pickle juice made for a flavor that outshone pork rinds, fried Oreos and pheasant broiled in a white wine reduction and covered in mango hollandaise sauce.

Dan looked at Fran with her frizzy blond hair, crooked smile and giant, mannish hands and realized he was falling in love. As he ate his funnel cake he envisioned the two of them working side by side in their carts selling pickles, cakes, pickle flavored cakes, cake flavored pickles, and assorted souvenir hats, shirts, bumper stickers, iPad cases, nasal inhalers, lunch meats, lemon reamers, cutlery, hair clips, antiperspirant, window decals, combustion engines, flower vases, front end loaders, breakfast cereal, balloons, alpacas, finely crafted furniture, ceramic mugs, notebooks, pocket watches and sunglasses. Lots of sunglasses.

Dilly Dan wandered the streets until the end of the day. When Fran finally put out her closed sign, Dan approached the exhausted confectioner. He introduced himself as Dilly Dan the pickle man. Fran smiled shyly.

“I’ve seen you with your cart,” she said.

Dan smiled back and told her how much he loved her funnel cake. Fran thanked him but explained she didn’t even know how they got that flavor.

“I’d love to sell more,” she said, “but I don’t know how I did it.”

“I can help you with that,” Dan told Fran. “You could say it was my recipe.”

Dan explained how that morning he had been angry with Fran for taking his business. Using animated hand motions he described his love of plans, cans and tans and how he executed his plan at 8 a.m. by setting her cart on fire then sneaking in and pouring pickle juice in the batter. Dan continued his story and was at the point of the souvenir combustion engines when Fran punched him in the face. Repeatedly.

Dilly Dan was a pickle man until he lost all his teeth and his eyes swelled shut and that cut on the bridge of his nose wouldn’t stop bleeding and his ear drum perforated and his brain swelled inside his skull . . .

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