Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Proud to be a Kannapple

Kannapolite? Kannapolitan? How about Kannapple? From all the options available to call myself as a resident of Kannapolis, I think Kannapple is my favorite. It reminds me of Snapple. Who doesn’t love Snapple? It’s made from the best stuff on Earth. It’s a fitting tribute.

I moved to Kannapolis less than a year ago, after a decade spent in “the big city”. The rent was cheap and the commute to work was short. The decision made itself. Having been raised in both small and miniscule towns, before moving to the big city, I was ready to feel like part of a community again. The day after I moved in, one neighbor brought me tomatoes from his garden. No one in the cities had done that. Another worked out an arrangement with me to mow the lawn. How neighborly. (I can actually hear her mowing as I type this.) A statement that I’ve heard many times since moving here is that no one uses their turn signal when driving, because everyone knows where they’re going. I think that may be true. I don’t bother anymore.

The downside of a small town is that everyone knows your business. Or what they think is your business. Kannapolis is big enough that it isn’t a problem. But I was determined to feel like a local. My accent alone sets me apart, but I was hoping to be adopted by the community. Once LA signed on as my roommate, we were determined to become “regulars” somewhere. Turns out, that’s easier than we expected.

Due to its proximity, we chose the North 29 Grill as our regular spot. The North 29 Grill is known to many locals by its former name, The Humdinger. That explains why one of their menu items is a burger named The Humdinger. And a humdinger it is. It’s one of our favorites. After a few visits, we were asked our names. A few visits later, our names were remembered and used whenever we arrived. We no longer had to order drinks, as those turned up when we walked in. The food is not fancy, just burgers, salads, fried items. But we love it. It doesn’t hurt that the cook, LB, is so easy on the eyes. The head waitress, Miss Tammy, is our favorite. She once threatened bodily harm to LA if she turned up in one of his videos. LA and I are both far from our families, so a visit to the North 29 Grill is like a visit with an adopted family. And like family, they accept us as crazy as we are.

I didn’t plan on becoming a regular at Acapulco Tacqueria. That happened quite accidentally. Acapulco is in a former fast food joint, and it still has the drive-thru window, plus menu items listed all over the windows. The building next door is a decrepit laundromat. Overall, it’s not much to look at. I wanted authentic Mexican tacos, not the Taco Bell variety. Acapulco has an extensive menu, with your run-of-the-mill Mexican food, as well as the variety less common north of the border. We learned very early on that we don’t like the mole sauce there, but everything else has been good. They have barbacoa on the menu, which I often order. The waitress that we most often get doesn’t speak English, so she will then get an English-speaking waitress to explain to me that they don’t have the beef barbacoa, they only have lamb. The first time I got the speech, I responded that I was fine with that. I was then interrogated. “Lamb. Are you sure? Lamb?” It was delicious. I have recommended it to others, but they always opt for something a little more ordinary. LA and I have gone several times and have even taken another friend with us on occasion. We are always seated in the same booth. One day, I decided to go by myself. When I walked in, the waitress gave me a funny look and said, “Just you?” Yes, just me. No crazy-looking sidekick today!

Now that I have more free time on my hands, I can (and do) visit the farmer’s market as often as possible. I find that the people we meet there are all strong believers in community. I had visited the Winecoff School Rd. farmer’s market once before I moved to Kannapolis, but it was too long of a drive to make regularly. The farmer’s market nearest me at that time was only open when I was at work. I read articles in many food magazines about the wonders of the farmer’s market, and I wished I had more opportunity to go. I’m now making up for lost time. The food magazines all focus on the food that’s available at the market. I go less for the food and more for the people. Everyone there has a passion, whether it’s for growing vegetables, raising cattle, or making jewelry out of spoons. I feel like I’m among brethren when I’m there. That’s a great feeling.

A friend who was raised in Kannapolis told me recently that I know a lot more about Kannapolis and what’s here than she does. Would you like to know where the lingerie store is? How about the pest control building with the giant cockroaches painted on the side? Are you interested in a bust of Thomas Edison? Or the salon with an arrow labelled “Tanning” that points to an empty field? I can even point you in the direction of a bruja. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to leave the house. The rest takes care of itself. And when it does, you, like me, will be proud to be a Kannapple!

The North 29 Grill is located at 2800 N. Cannon Blvd.  Acapulco Restaurante y Taqueria is located at 530 S. Cannon Blvd. at the corner of Cannon and Fairview.

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