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U of M Part Two

Kid Z at University of Michigan on a visit....here she is focused on foraging for food in a strange town.

So we eventually got hungry and decided we would hike on down to Zingerman's Deli for a sandwich.  Zingerman's is a legendary deli in Ann Arbor known by foodies across the country. www.zingermansdeli.com/ The thing with Zingerman's is that back in the 80's and 90's it was this oasis of culinary funkiness in the Midwest.  It wasn't anything special if you happened to be from the coast or, like me, had actually worked in a few delis in your time. What set Zingerman's apart was its dedication to quality ingredients and customer service.  They used to have an award winning management/customer service training program called Zing Train that I went through about 10 years ago. In fact, one of the big accomplishments in my culinary career was having a sandwich I designed featured as a "sandwich of the month" at Zingerman's. Yeah, I know - pretty lame, but I don't care - I think its cool.
To make a long story short, Zingerman's was the shit as far as across the counter, on the spot service and marketing went.  And now?  Well, I thought that it was over-priced, over-crowded and ummm, not that good. Mind you I only had a Mocha and a cupcake from their bakery, but that was only because there was a line for the deli that stretched outside and came with a 30 minute wait time. Sorry - I'm not waiting to go pay 12 bucks for a ham and swiss on rye.  I could go on about this place, and maybe I will later on, but suffice to say that Zingerman's is a victim of their own success and the crowds flocking there are spoiling what used to be a cool, fun experience.

Z standing outside Zingerman's.

Zingerman's back door and the makeshift shelter for people waiting in line....

So we decided to bag Zingerman's and just get coffee.  We trudged back downtown, still on the lookout for food.  It was a typical mixmaster of a Michigan day. In the twenty minute walk back we experienced a down pour, a snow shower, bright sunlight and gusting wind with icy sleet.We found a little Japanese place right in the heart of campus where I had a great bowl of fried Udon noodles, chicken and veggies. I'm obsessed with noodles - I could eat them 24/7....

Turned out this was a great spot to people watch.

Z got to experience her first street preacher.  This one came with his own men's choir and an army of helpers passing out tracts and trying to save souls...

This guy tried to save my soul, but he gave up because all I wanted to talk about with him was his cool hat.  The conversation ended when I told him I was a fallen Catholic.  Suddenly I was invisible.  Zoe thought he was scary....

We strolled down to the Student Union where I wanted to pick up some campus info and check out the catering offices there out of curiosity.  On the way there we saw lots of cool buildings.  University campuses are always this mish-mash of architecture. You can get a whole tour of styles down through the ages in just a few blocks.  University of Michigan has this phenomenon in spades....

We got to the Student Union and it was almost deserted except for the info desk and a large study hall.  Evidently everyone was out getting high at Hash Bash.  The place reeked of pot, like the high crowd had just left.  We made our way out and decided to call it a day.  On the way out we passed a Japanese couple having a discussion on the entrance steps.  I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Japan, and used to speak Japanese.  Over the years I've lost most of my ability to understand the language, but once in a while I get flashes of understanding.  For some strange reason, my brain picked up their conversation perfectly.  I was so surprised that I missed the first step and went sailing down the rest of the stairs in a sort of spastic, Zombie dance that ended with me on my knees at the bottom wondering if I'd broken anything. Zoe, as any teen would, stood and laughed hysterically while the Japanese folks helped me up.  Eventually Z did express concern, but it was leavened with a few more laughing fits and no small amount of joy at having another great story to tell about the Old Man.

Here's the entrance where I took a dive....

The next day we did a little more sightseeing then we left.  On the way home we stopped at IKEA and bought some stuff for Z's room and I bought a filing cabinet and a lamp  IKEA's a whole other wonderland of neurosis and adventure that we can delve into later, but right now time's up and I gotta go play some Wii golf.....


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
I love wandering around university campuses--there's just so much to catch the eye and imagination.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )