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Archive for the ‘Galesburg’ Tag

The Confessions of Frances Godwin   Leave a comment

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Our youngest son recently graduated from Knox College; I’d been vaguely aware of it years before because of Sixteen Pleasures, a book I enjoyed for its setting (Florence, Italy) and strong female narrator. This same son gave me an autographed copy of Hellenga’s most recent work, The Confessions of Frances Godwin, which had been languishing on my nightstand far too long.

The setting is mostly Galesburg, Ill., with Knox figuring prominently; other locales include Milwaukee, Rome and Verona. With Frances, Hellenga introduces another female narrator. I admit I’m intrigued by his ability to create such true female voices.

It’s 2006 and Frances has retired from a career as a high school Latin teacher. At first, the novel appears to be a vehicle for her to reflect on her past because she soon recounts how she met her husband, Paul, a Shakespeare scholar from whom she took classes (at Knox). She tells of their affair, their eventual marriage and life together in Galesburg. They have a daughter, Stella, who as a grown woman appears to make a series of bad choices when it comes to men.

The story is occasionally heavy handed. Consider, Frances’ name: Godwin. Several times, she converses with God, who, among other things, entreats her to go to confession. By this point it’s clear that she does have more than a few things to own up to.

Love and guilt are not unusual companions; for Frances, they’re a large part of who she is.

The Confessions of Frances Godwin
Four Bookmarks
Bloomsbury, 2014
305 pages

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Ignore the Sign   Leave a comment

QuickSamsquickSamsiiiThe name Quick Sam’s conjures images of Quick Draw McGraw and Yosemite Sam, neither of which has anything to do with south of the border cuisine. But then the sign for this unassuming, three-table eatery is misleading, too; it boasts pizza, fried chicken and sandwiches, which aren’t even on the menu. Nothing suggests authentic Mexican food. Add to this the fact that Galesburg, Ill., is not a locale that immediately comes to mind for enchiladas, rice and beans.

QuickSamsEnchilladas

In a building that stands out only because it’s next to a cemetery on one side and a row of two-story clapboard houses on the other, Quick Sam’s is an anomaly on several levels. The place is small: part tiny diner, part miniature-convenience store complete with glass coolers where much of the inventory for the diminutive kitchen. Yet, it’s muy grande when it comes to flavors.

QuickSamsRellenos

The menu features standard Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, enchiladas and chile rellenos. Chips and fresh made salsa are the precursors of tastes to come. Quick Sam’s salsa is the kind to ruin an appetite only because it’s easy to eat too much. Self-restraint comes in handy here.

The chile rellenos combined the smokiness of roasted poblanos with creamy Jack cheese that had all been coated in an egg, flour and cornmeal mix and fried. It wasn’t greasy, but not quite as crispy as I like.

Prices are reasonable: less than $8 for a meal that includes rice and beans. All items are also available a la carte.

 

Quick Sam’s
Four Plates
275 S. Academy St.
Galesburg, Ill

A Subtle Pizza Place   Leave a comment

bakedwall

Among the first things you notice when entering Baked is the absence of tables. Then eyes turn to a turntable playing records, real 33 1/3 LPs. The distressed brick walls also command attention as does a large frame on part of a chalkboard listing the day’s offerings. It’s an eclectic scene which reflects the menu: five types of pizza, a soup, a salad, two types of Angel Food cupcakes (chocolate and vanilla) and (usually) another dessert. The other distinguishing feature is the friendliness of the staff.

They have good reason to be amicable; this is a pretty relaxed place that serves food based on what’s fresh and available locally. In Galesburg, IIL., in late winter you might think that wouldn’t be much, but that would be wrong. Fresh isn’t relegated only to produce. At Baked it also refers to locally-sourced meats and cheeses.

Pizza is available by the slice and by the pie. We tried the “low pork” which was slow roasted and shredded. The crust was thin enough to fold and the pork jumped off the red sauce with a slight kick. Mozzarella was almost superfluous. The Angel Food cupcakes were funky-looking, but airy and frosted with creamy, tangy icing.

bakedfood

Other pizza offerings included pepperoni, tomato, cheese and the intriguing-sounding pistachio and red onion. The pepperoni comes from Walt and Cole, unless you’re a local that doesn’t mean much more than tasty.
Although Baked has no tables, it does have a small counter space with barstools to accommodate as many eight people, if everyone is a close friend – or wants to be.

Baked
Four Plates
57 S. Seminary St.
Galesburg, Ill.