Jack Anderson


From my novel: Letting Go

Jack Anderson is a food officianotto!

...Rachael said, “Oh, thank God I don’t have any cholesterol issues! I take it the mashed potatoes are somewhere under all the gravy?” 
Jack grinned. “Go ahead... see if you like it.”

Rachael plunged the fork and knife into the lake of white gravy that covered the steak and found what she thought would be an appropriate spot to cut off a small sliver. When she touched the steak with her fork it fell apart. “No need for a knife, I see.” 

She took a tenuous bite then said, “I thought you couldn’t get chicken fried steak this good anywhere but the south. It’s really good. The gravy actually has some flavor to it. And they got the tea right, too.”

“Another success story,” Jack said.

When they'd been eating for a few minutes, Jack asked, “So you’ve traveled a lot with the feebie?”

“Yeah. More than I expected, but I’ve been okay with it so far. There haven't been too many times when I’ve had to make arrangements for Miss Kitty. When I do travel, I’ve made a hobby of trying to find the best off-the-map eateries. Gets my mind off the case for a while and helps me think.”

“I know what you mean. I probably do a lot less business traveling than you—maybe a convention once a year—so unless they’re serving something very special at the banquet, I try to find someplace special, too. When I go on vacation, though, that’s another story. I go out of my way to avoid eating at any of the chains.”

“So what’s been one of your best out-of-the-way places?” Rachael asked. 

Jack thought for a minute. “I took a vacation to southern Utah one year to see the parks out there. I ended up in a dot on the map called Mexican Hat. I pulled up in front of the place and the sign read ‘Home of the Swinging Meat.’ I had to give it a try.”

Rachael choked out a little laugh as she was eating. 

Jack continued. “When I got inside, the place was dripping with ambiance. The bar, which served only longnecks, and half the eating area were covered with a rusted red tin roof. The rest of the place was open to the sky. At night, before the moon came up, the Milky Way was blinding it was so bright. The tables were old wood with carvings in them from all the visitors. The place was lit up at night with strings of colored light bulbs criss-crossing overhead. The name-sake was the main attraction. Keep in mind, all this place served was rib-eye steaks and chicken. They were served on a sizzling hot metal plate with pinto beans and a salad. The only real choice you got was the size of the steak.”

"Anyway, the cook looked like he came out of an old black and white Roy Rogers movie. He was about six-foot-three with a white beard, denim jeans, cowboy boots, and an old crinkled up cowboy hat just to keep the food inspector happy. He was positioned right out in front of the tables for all to see. It was quite a show. There was a rectangular firebox on the bottom and a matching grill that hung from a tripod by a chain. The cook would slap the steak on the grill and then give it a shove to start it swinging. He wouldn’t let it stop swinging until the steak was done. Hence, swinging meat. ”

Rachael smiled. “You really enjoyed that, didn’t you?”

“It was fun. The place was awesome. The only thing wrong was the flies. Southern Utah has more flies than I've ever seen anywhere. You’d think black-light, commercial grade, bug zappers had never been invented.” He took a bite of his lunch just as Rachael’s phone went off. ...