Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Trying vomacka at the old feed mill April 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:22 AM
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The Feed Mill Restaurant menu and specials, listed on a recipe card.

TYPICALLY, WHEN YOU walk into a restaurant, sit down and ask for the day’s specials, the waitress rattles off the choices.

But not at the Feed Mill Restaurant in historic downtown Jordan. During a recent visit there, the waitress hands me a lined white recipe card with the neatly-printed specials.

Now that’s different, I think, as I put down my menu and scan the card.

For $7.99, I can have liver and onions or hamburger steak served with mashed potatoes and gravy and soup. Hamburger steak? That’s different. How can hamburger be steak? (Later, when I google “hamburger steak,” I discover this to be a fancy word for hamburger patties.)

I continue reading the recipe card.  For a dollar less, I can have a hot beef, pork or hamburger commercial. A fish sandwich, chicken and tuna salad sandwich and hot dog options round out the specials.

Considering I don’t like most of the selections, I order a hot pork commercial and, given a choice, pick green beans over applesauce.

My hot pork commercial.

And then, when presented with the soup options, I face an unknown. Should I try the vomacka or stick with the more traditional vegetable beef barley?

“What’s vomacka?” I ask the waitress.

It is, she explains, a Czech creamed vegetable soup and vomacka means “gravy.”

I figure, what the heck, I may as well expose my taste buds to something foreign.

As my husband and I wait for our meals, I hear the waitress tell the elderly woman two tables away that carrots, green and yellow beans, potatoes, onions, celery and cream comprise vomacka. Dill seasoning flavors the mix. I don’t even have to eavesdrop. Her loud voice carries across the room where, even though it is the prime lunch hour, only my husband and I and the woman and her female companion are dining here.

Our beef and pork commercials arrive promptly. My pork commercial is just OK. The vomacka is tasty and I’m glad I’ve tried it.

Vomacka, a creamy Czech soup

And even though I expect a more historic feel to this restaurant, which is housed in a 1914 circa feed mill, I enjoy the view of rushing Sand Creek through huge plate-glass windows in a late 1970s addition.

When the waitress sees my camera, she suggests that I photograph the creek from a nearby foot bridge. “We’ve had professional photographers in here and it doesn’t work,” she says, looking toward the windows.

I want to tell her that I’m a professional writer and photographer too and that I know shooting images through these windows will not work. But, I hold my tongue. Clearly, she thinks that I am just a woman having lunch here with her husband.

My photo of Sand Creek, taken from a foot bridge near the Feed Mill Restaurant in mid-March. The dining room overlooks the rushing creek.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling