Lily Notes 3

So now I’m thinking about the diner and its specials menu, not because it’s crucial but because it sounds like fun and I get to read about food.

I’m thinking there are the standards, which I’m going to ignore because boring, and then there are the specials, maybe five things that change every week? Trying not to make this more complicated than it needs to be while emphasizing the off-the-wall fun part. I figure variations on a burger, a salad, a soup, a club sandwich/BLT/whatever, some kind of eggs?, and maybe a dessert. Just this week only, never to be seen again? Vanessa comes up with the recipes, Cheryl names them, and then Lily describes them (and double checks with Van), printing them out and paper clipping them to the regular menu.

It just seems like a good time to be coming up with recipe variations, especially burger variations Cheryl has named (not the week she’s a vegan, Van and Lily will block her on that one). And at some point, of course, there will be a Viking Burger, or possibly a Viking Club, or maybe both. The Viking Axe Burger: extra thick chopped beef with sharp Gruyere-some cheese, blood-red tomatoes, and Danish scallions, with sea salt and Sriracha for edge. You know, only better than that, although that actually sounds good.

But that wouldn’t come until much later in the story. Maybe the first week in the story, Cheryl calls one dish “Nobody Died for This Soup” because it’s vegetarian. Maybe not. Over to you Argh. (This reminds me of the time I said, “I need hell-inspired business name, and got “Motel Styx,” “Beelzepub,” and “Pins and Sins.” Good times.)

Also, any requests for Monday’s scene? Wants? Needs? Stray thoughts?

EDITED TO ADD: Any kind of burger, soup, etc., not just Vikings. I think the Viking burger comes at the end. Also feel free to brainstorm Cheryl’s next obsession. They have already lived through the Feng shui debacle.

98 thoughts on “Lily Notes 3

    1. Yeah, that’s probably the place to go next just to find out what that’s all about. Discovery Draft! (AKA I don’t know either.)

      1. What if the university has recently acquired an ancient illustrated manuscript and Seb the ex-boyfriend wants access to it and/or Lily to help him with research because he thinks the doodles in the margins are actually a hidden message or code leading to something (pick his treasure) (because he fancies himself as an Indiana Jones/ Robert Langdon type)? And the manuscript is the one Brother Seb was working on the first time Lily died? And the something bad that happened to her happened after she had just spent some time looking at the manuscript? And she brings Fin in as a consultant because he’s an illustrator. And he brings in Bjorn because…Seb the ex-boyfriend is clearly a maniacal narcissist and Fin needs help and good cheer? And she needs Nadia because that’s a lot to deal with.

    1. I like it and would probably replace the bread horns with wedges of fried potatoes and a dipping sauce to accompany the burger.

    2. OMG, that looks delicious. I’m pretty sure I have pickled red cabbage in the back of the fridge. If so, I’m adding this to next week’s dinner menu.

  1. This is probably not at all helpful, but your description of the menu and the burger put me in mind of my favorite burger joint in all the world, Kuma’s Heavy Metal Burger Bar in Chicago.

    There are now multiple Kuma’s. Kumases? Kumai? Whatever. They franchised. And the original is truly amazing. There’s always a line to get in It’s the perfect first date for awkward foodies: a dive bar so dark you can’t see your date, heavy metal playing so loudly you have to yell to be heard, and movies like Alien vs. Predator playing on the big screen above the bar. The other Kuma’s I’ve been to LOOK like your standard hipster burger joints (locals call them “Fake Kuma’s” or “Hipster Decoy Kuma’s”)… until you take your first bite and realize that this is the most earth shatteringly amazing thing you’ve ever put in your mouth in your entire life.

    If you go to their website today, one of their Burgers of The Month is “DEAFHEAVEN”, which they describe as a 10oz Beef Patty (or choice of protein), Honey Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Braised Pork Shoulder, Apple Cider and Orange Gravy, Frizzled Butternut Squash, and Parsley. One of their regular menu burgers is “Lair of the Minotaur” with Brie, Bourbon Poached Pear, Caramelized Onions, and Pancetta.

    Anyway, if you’re in the market for inspiration re: things that sound weird but taste amazing, you may want to Google “Kuma’s Corner Chicago”.

  2. How many scenes have you written so far?

    I guess I wanna see what comes after the second diner moment, or really the furthest moment in story you have thus far. Still wanna get the central antag bit down.

    Any more thoughts downstairs on the reincarnations? It’d be fun to have the rest of the cast be common characters in all of her lives. Give you throwaway lines like, “In that one you were the head chef for the monastery.” Or, “You kept the Viking back with a scythe until help came.” Or something more fun lol

    Do we know what Cheryl was into last week? Or which other seminars she might have attended? For this week’s burgers.

    For Viking burger…. I have nothing as of yet haha sorry

    1. I have about ten thousand words. Still no antagonist or plot.

      The furthest moment in the plot that I have is the midpoint, but since it’s so far out, I know it’s going to change. Also, Lily is wimpy in it.

      I think the reincarnations are going to recede into the plot. That is, they’re a aspect of what Lily’s going through, not a plot point. Still don’t know what they mean. I may just leave it up in the air whether they’re real or not. Lily believes they are.

      Last month for Cheryl was Feng Shui. Which is tough in a diner where all the stools and booths are bolted to the floor, and there’s that long straight path through from the door at one end to the door at the other.

      I think maybe Cheryl thinks up the name of the burger/whatever and Van works from there, and then Lily tries to find the common ground (beef) (sorry).

  3. My first thought is that since the name of the diner is “Surprise,” the names of the dishes would be the surprise. Like “Cheese Burger Hold the Burger” would be a cheese sandwich. Must think on this some more …

    1. I like that. The Moral Cheese Burger. Three kinds of cheese, dijon, mayo, tomatoes, sriracha, on toasted ciabatta. Hold the burger. And then if people wanted, they could order a Moral Cheeseburger, extra burger. $2 extra: The Immoral Burger (add any protein).

      I’m liking that.

      1. Hi, I just wanted to barge in and tell you that re-reading “Bet Me” (for the umpteenth time – and I normally don’t re-read books) is keeping me content and happy during this horrible time. So thank you for that! It’s my security blanket. I was going to say “that has no calories” but I will probably make chicken Marsala…….and brats………and maybe some doughnuts……..sigh.


          1. Fortunately, (in a sense) I am allergic to most of the ingredients of Chicken Marsala

    2. Ooh, I also like the idea of synonyms for “surprise” in the dish names:
      Revelation Soup.
      Astonishing Apple Fritters.
      Bombshell Omelet.

  4. I added this to the post . . .

    EDITED TO ADD: Any kind of burger, soup, etc., not just Vikings. I think the Viking burger comes at the end. Also feel free to brainstorm Cheryl’s next obsession. They have already lived through the Feng Shui debacle.

      1. Crystals!

        Palm-reading – Cheryl looks at their hands to guess what they want, nearly always wrong

        Adopt-a-Pet – meals named after pet shelter animals (but not in an eating them way, more Polly Wants These Crackers, or Buddy’s Best Boy Burger)

        The week she tries to turn them into a motorcycle/leather bar, adds black something to their uniforms, gets dark and moody.

        Or an Folks in Uniform Diner – Four Alarm Fire Chili, burgers on donuts instead of buns, but she includes something for UPS Guy (Brown Gravy??) and the Postal Service too

      2. Feral cat Collition (neutering feral cats and rescuing those to a good home who were abandoned domestic cats and fostering kittens that aren’t too wild to place in homes). She could be looking for homes to foster kittens and working on her customers to help out – also her friends, her suppliers, members of the Chamber of Commerce.

    1. I’m going to guess that Cheryl would take anything like no plastic straws or health scare with the local water to the extreme.

    2. I googled “medieval inspired food” and got some amazing dishes, including Hobbit inspired food, Tudor inspired food (including a dish with tomatoes, hah!) , Shakespeare inspired food. Game of Thrones food is basically medieval.

      1. I will have to (briefly) review Feng Shui because it’s been so long since I read about it and because this is in the diner’s past. This is one of those rabbit holes where I read for three hours for one throwaway line, so I must be careful.

  5. I live in Minnesota, have Scandinavian grandparents, and took a year of Norweigian. The food should be off-white and beige with parsley and the burger should be fish.

    1. I suppose any salted fish would do, but lutefisk is dried whitefish. It is made from aged stockfish, or dried and salted cod pickled in lye. It is gelatinous in texture. Lutefisk is prepared as a fish dish of several Nordic countries.

      They lost me at “gelatinous in texture,” but if Cheryl wants to do a week of seafood, OR you need a Viking dish, there ya go.

      In several books of the Ring of Fire series, it’s a running gag that certain characters have no idea how to cook anything that isn’t salted fish.

  6. Other obsessions Cheryl may have gone for:

    Color / coloration – is the diner an autumn or a winter?

    Marie Kondo – getting rid of things that don’t bring joy ?

    Did she quit smoking and go on a gum binge? chewing on straws?

    Speaking of straws – getting rid of them to reduce plastic consumption


    I think a special should be some kind of milkshake – Perhaps a cherries jubilee milkshake complete with fire!

    And there’s a place in town here that has a “special” that is actually on the menu. It’s called “shut up and eat it”. If you order it, you get whatever the chef wants to put on your sandwich that day. You’ve got no say in it at all.

    1. In our town, there’s a restaurant where you can order a “clean the kitchen” surprise entree, with or without meat. The idea is that they cook the things that need to go. I had it several times and it was always very good and, of course, rather cheap compared to the other things on the menu. They always recommend it to the customers who can’t make up their minds.

      1. Are you in Virginia Beach? When I lived there, we had a place like that – all their leftover breakfast stuff was my favorite.

      2. There’s an app for that, to reduce waste, A couple of restaurants and a hotel near work use it, at the end of the day they have a surprise box for a few pounds. It contains a generous portion of what they didn’t sell that day, or in the case of the hotel, whatever you can fit in the box from the breakfast buffet. My friend loves it as she hates cooking.

    2. I love the idea of Cheryl going full Marie Kondo, and Lily and Van looking for things (that odd kitchen utensil that Van needs, for example) and the answer is always that it didn’t bring Cheryl joy.

      1. I love this podcast “Buy the Book” where two smart, funny women try and live by a self-help book and report back on whether or not it changed their lives. One of the highlights was the Marie Kondo episode where one of the women enthusiastically got rid of stuff, only to sheepishly admit a few episodes later that she threw out a piece that made her blender work, and she had to buy back all the candles she got rid of for the Tarot Card episode.

        1. She threw out all the spatulas because they didn’t bring her joy only to annoy the cook to no end?

  7. Kinda like the idea of an essential oils obsession…it’s just the kind of thing that’s normally mildly annoying but if the person with it owns and runs a diner could get extremely annoying.
    And with the vegan dessert…there are actual good ones but I am now thinking of my best friends aunt who was vegan and made for thanksgiving dessert a vegan cheesecake that turned out to be just frozen coconut milk…obviously Van would do something better but I like the idea of Cheryl insisting they make some very dairy heavy dessert vegan.

  8. Our favorite burger joint also has off-menu specials. Only the regulars know you can order, for instance, sweet potato fries.

    Cheryl could be obsessed with aural landscaping (a real thing for restaurants). Like, maybe she decides they should unplug the jukebox and play whale sounds.

    I do hope the reincarnation theme keeps coming back. 🙂

    1. Or no matter what you play on the juke box, it’s whale songs. Sort of like Bohemian Rhapsody in the car in Good Omens.

  9. A couple of bars around here have burgers of the pineapple/jalapeno variations; burger topped with lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayonnaise and a kind of pineapple/jalapeno relish is excellent. A burger made with a sausage patty instead of hamburger and toppedl with blue cheese is another one I’ve seen. Instead of frankfurters or bratwurst, use a different kind of sausage. There is a restaurant/meat market (Laurelhurt Market) in Portland that makes a killer chorizo verde sausage. I frequently serve it with corn sautéed with onion and jalapeno and it is very tasty. You could serve it on a bun with corn relish as a special.

    Decades ago when I worked at the cafe as a fry cook (Hey I was in college, I could work swing shift and they would schedule around it if I had a night class which was nice of them – well, my sister was the manager), there would be a blue plate luncheon special on weekdays: macaroni and cheese with ham, swedish meatballs on mashed potatoes or rice, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, kielbasa with sauerkraut, chicken fried steak with onion gravy, deep fried trout or razor clams with cole slaw and fries, a variation on a tuna noodle casserole or lasagna or a chicken and rice casserole with mushrooms that had a little jalapeno or pepper flakes in it.

    Additional ideas would be a plowman’s lunch or country pate (or scrabble or fried headcheese if you are in that part of the country) with pickle and salad and bread and butter. A baked potato topped with cheese and ham and sliced green onion and sour cream. Or some thing that would make it a vegetarian option.

    A breakfast special could be a fried egg and ham or bacon sandwich. Or my perennial favorite that my dad taught me to make – hobo’s egg. You fried a piece of bacon in a pan. When it is done, you remove it from the pan and in the pan drippings, you place a piece of bread with a hole cut in the middle and break an egg into the hole. You toast the hole on the side in the extra pan drippings. Add salt and pepper. Turn the hobo’s egg over when the white is cooked on the bottom. When it is as done as you want it, it’s ready to go. I do this with butter instead of bacon since I only get bacon once a week on Sunday.

    Another breakfast special could be french toast topped with a fried pineapple slice and whipped sour cream and a pitcher of hot maple syrup and butter

  10. My grandmother would always make us a “Baker’s Steak” on Saturdays: soak two slices of toast in a whipped-up egg, as you would do for French toast, and fry them in a pan. Sandwich bacon and cheese between the two slices, put in oven until the cheese has melted. One of my fondest culinary childhood memories.

  11. How about “happiness weeks” with foods that help you feel happy, like spinach, Brazil nuts, turkey, oily fish, chocolate. Maybe for midterms and finals weeks?

  12. You people are so inventive!

    Here in Ann Arbor the Blimpy Burger joint always has the option to add an egg to your burger, which was a new one to me.

    Alphabet soup with only a few letters? (would have to be a manufacturing error, I assume, but would be fun) Or “R” soup if you got only one letter.

    My mother’s favorite, which is actuall good but sounds….. odd? Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich.

  13. Does Cheryl (or Van) ever go on vacation? Maybe before she goes or after she comes back they do food from that area. Or if she doesn’t go on vacation, they do food from places she wants to go.

    1. There is a restaurant near here that has a new theme every month for their specials. They pick a locale, decorate thematically and then have food from that place. A few I remember are New Orleans, San Francisco, somewhere in South America (Argentina, maybe?). Of course, you can always order from the regular menu. And on Sunday they have a family style fried chicken dinner.

  14. Burger variations are delightfully easy. It’s all about the seasoning of the patty. Ranch, taco, curry, chili, cheese-in-patty or not, and then you can vary up with the meat, too, like a bulgogi burger, sloppy joes, brisket sandwiches, fish patties, crabcakes, a mac-n-cheese burger, and such.
    The easiest way to find ideas for exotic fusion foods is food trucks. Tater tot nachos, instant ramen nachos, wild game fries, thai curry crepe, masala pizza cones, and more.

    The question is if the diner wants to capture any non-white ethnicity customers with regional cuisine, because then there should be some kind of rice dish variant (the way McDonald’s in Asia has rice on the menu), as that can cover both Asian and African dishes (the soup option could also include Asian variants). Jack in the Box actually has spring rolls as a side. And then you can have some sort of charcuterie category that would cover the likes of shawarma, al pastor, gyro, Peking duck, and char siu.

    So maybe:
    Burger/sandwich special
    Soup special
    Meat/charcuterie special (or just a more generalized entree special?)
    Appetizer/side special (this would cover salads)
    Dessert special

    (I’ve been watching food anime with a lot of fusion stuff. For example, they did a potato salad episode. There was a curry one, there was one where they blowtorch cheese over the cake of potato salad, and one where they smoke the potatos and bacon to go with a fish roe topping.)

  15. Maybe Cheryl takes Lily to one of her lectures, past lives, regression. reincarnation and it doesn’t work for her, but it triggers Lily, who nearly fell asleep during the lecture…

    1. I’m a terrible hypnosis subject, but a fantasy author once did a regression on a group of us, and almost put me under . . . she then said one wrong thing and I could feel myself snap back to more-conscious-than-normal. Now that might be an interesting experience for Lily.

      1. I remember a journalist being sent somewhere for a few weeks to sugar cleanse, unfortunately for him, when he got there they also banned caffeine too. That was a rough couple of weeks

  16. Oooh, I have the perfect obsession:

    Eating all the colours. Cheryl tries to get the rainbow meal idea going with salads that just get weird.

    This is important because I’ve lost some time in my life to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I don’t care for Guy and I’m really put-off by their filming method. *BUT* before I learned that, I saw that a lot of diner food is just protein and carbs, carbs and protein. Not a vitamin or mineral in sight.

    The only time that there’s anything else on the food pyramid, it’s a sauce, an oil, or garnish. Maybe you get veggies if the dish is pasta. Sometimes you get it if the joint is an Indian or Thai place, at which point Guy talks a lot about the food once he bites in. He actually describes it. He also does it for dishes he doesn’t really like.
    When he’s eating meat, he’s all “mmm, mmphh, mmmphhhh!”

    Cheryl becomes obsessed with adding a lot of vegetables and salads to existing menu items, even if they actually don’t go together, because she wants to follow the “eating rainbow colours” advice. (Maybe it actually works once it’s tweaked to portions and taste.)

    1. With Rainbow Jello (the one in layers) or Stained Glass Jello for dessert! She might think of ways to make those taste fantastic.

  17. How about a special called “Oh, the Poultry!” involving an oval plate cover looking vaguely blimplike, a small pile of burned toast bits with a small rectangle of toast on top with the letters RIP burned into the toast, and next to it a grilled veggieburger with a fried egg on top.

    This is lame compared with the Moral and Immoral burgers, though….

  18. Maybe it’s because I live in a college town, but I feel like if Cheryl named a special “the Murder Burger,” sales would probably double (note: as a veg*n myself, I’ll forebear from describing the perfect murder burger, but I assume it’s large and topped with bacon). So the whole vegan kick might be inadvertently good for business.

    While I know a ton of happy long-term vegans, most of the people I know who were only briefly-yet-loudly-vegan almost immediately pivoted to some other somewhat extreme point on the food spectrum, like going paleo. Paleo-Cheryl could start adding a fried egg to every burger (the “Thank God it’s Fried Egg” special), or refusing to serve buns (“It’s a No Grainer”). All burgers served with a side of feng shui-string fries, I guess.

  19. I can see Cheryl going through a Marie Kondo phase.

    When I went to Sweden, oh 30ish years ago, several restaurants had lots of stuffed potatoes options.

    Not related but one restaurant had a bread station. Instead of rolls brought to the table, they a had a large table with several types of rolls and several loaves of bread along with butter, cheese and multiple jams. I still have fond dreams about those breads.

  20. I once sat on the board of a community building, and the owners of a vegetarian restaurant that was moving in asked us to help them name the place. Our two favorite suggestions were “Bad Karma Steak House” and “Marx and Hegels’ Lox and Bagels.” Of course, neither of those was remotely suitable.

    That doesn’t help the whole menu item thing, but I wanted to share.

  21. In one of those weird timing/synchronicity things, I just read a short story by Sharon Shinn in “Fantastic Hope,” a new fantasy/SciFi anthology. The story is “Not in this Lifetime” and there are some eerie similarities with “Surprise Lilli.” The story is mostly set in a diner where the protagonist is working with her best friend Lili and is regaling her with stories of previous lives. Lili is in all the previous lives. Everyone who works in the diner knows Sasha’s, the protagonist, stories about the previous lives. In those stories, although Sasha doesn’t share it with the others, she is killed by the same man whom she recognizes. It’s a good story but it did give me the willies.

  22. Maybe Van and Cheryl surprise Lily with a whole Viking theme one week. And it would probably include herring, because it’s almost impossible to avoid in Scandinavia (and lord knows I’ve tried; it’s not my favorite).

  23. I was thinking Skull-Splitting Squash Soup topped with fried sweetbreads. Or Toasted Eggs Benedictine Monk. And Raider Stew. And Finger Pies.

    I was in a gift/grocery store for Nordic folks – in Sarasota FL. They sell all sorts of frozen foods that would appeal only to North folk. I’ll see if they have an online store link

  24. Ayurvedic diet. Cheryl stops by each table and diagnoses their proper order. “You need more fire for balance, Red Curry for you.”

  25. Hmmmmm, possible weird trends:

    – ASMR Diner. Everyone is required to talk in a whisper and there’s soothing spa music in the background
    – Locally Sourced Everything. (This is a problem for things like cleaning products)
    – Showing Off the Super Fancy Coffee Machine That Makes Fancy Drinks
    – We Don’t Make Your Fancy Starbucks Coffee Here, You Must Be Thinking of Some Other Sell-Out Diner
    – Microbrewery
    – Kombucha
    – SpeakEasy (the open sign is off, and you can only get in with a password. Cheryl guards the door. No cops allowed. Everything else is exactly the same)
    – Cannabis incorporated into things that don’t need Cannabis
    – Karaoke
    – Drag Queen Brunch
    – Gospel Choir Brunch
    – Bottomless Mimosa Brunch
    – We Don’t Do Bottomless Mimosa Brunch Here, You Must Be Thinking of Somewhere Else
    – We proudly support (insert random profession Cheryl perceives as being under-appreciated. Bonus points if it’s a profession that there are literally none of in their town)
    – “Deconstructed” Over-expensive Food
    – The Grapefruit diet
    – Intermittent Fasting (Not sure how this would work with a diner?)
    – Every customer gets a book with their check because Cheryl’s getting rid of her books. All books reflect Cheryl’s taste (at one time) and the customer has to take the book. Or else.
    – Cheryl inviting guest speakers to talk about her current favorite cause to speak to the diner. She does not tell them they’ll be speaking to a diner until she shows up. She doesn’t tell any of the diner customers either
    – Yarn-bombing
    – a wall where she started a mural, but didn’t finish it. And where someone with a penchant for doodling might get tempted/ pressured to fill it in
    – Boardgames

    My favorite example of strange bar decor choices was a bar on the Aran Islands called “The Bar” covered in pictures of Elvis and James Dean. Apparently it used to be called “The American Bar” to cater to American tourists, but when they realized that American tourists did not go to Ireland to go to American bars, they dropped “American” from their title, but kept all the decor.

    1. This probably dates me rather accurately, but every time I hear ASMR I automatically think “A Sailor Moon Romance”.

    2. Like the themes

      Small plates day, you can have a tiny portion of everything on a plate…like a chef tasting menu

    3. “Cheryl inviting guest speakers to talk about her current favorite cause to speak to the diner. ”
      This! This is what I want to read next!

      1. Extra. Characters.

        You know what one of the top complaints about my books is? Too many characters.

        So far we have:
        Sebastian’s Uncle Lewis
        Dr. Ferris

        That’s nine, which is GREAT for me–I usually have a minimum of seventeen–but there is also no conflict in here and no antagonist, plus there will have to be regulars at the diner, and the fathers are foreshadowed in here, both Frey and Anderson, and Fin’s mom and his two sisters, and then Van must have people besides Lily in her life, and god know what Cheryl has lurking in the background–imagine Cheryl’s lover, and I wonder if she switches them out the way she changes the diner . . . does she change the diner to fit the guy or does she change the guy to fit the obsession? I’m betting the obsession comes first, yeah we gotta get Cheryl’s lovers in here and I’m sure she’s bi, Cheryl likes a lot of choice . . .

        Where was I?

        Unless one of the speakers is also Cheryl’s current squeeze, bringing in a speaker who only appears once is not a good idea. If the speaker becomes part of the plot, that’s excellent. I just don’t have a plot yet. Except Fin loves Lily and Lily is gonna love Fin once she gets a handle on this reincarnation thing.

        ETA: I thought I’d done a post on multi-tasking, but it wasn’t about characters, it was about props, objects:

        And now I must go rewatch that movie.

  26. Cheryl could be into yarn bombing one week, that could get underfoot.

    I like a week where everything is a variation on grilled cheese. The soup could have grilled cheese croutons, the burger could be a party on Texas toast, the salad could be kale and tomato and cheese between vegetable fritters.

    There’s a restaurant in Austin called Gourdough’s that’s got doughnuts in everything – the salad comes with a giant savory donut (no glaze, maybe just garlic powder on it or something?) that’s delicious.

    One week could be breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast.

    There could be weird foods of the past for only the very brave.

    Maybe she gets homesick and only wants her family’s recipes but none of them are good to non-family.

    She could only recite Shakespeare for a week. Or only make Julia Child-themed food. Maybe she gets really into literary genres and that’s the week’s theme. Or afternoon tea or British pub or poutine – I would have been surprised by any of those if I’d gone to a diner near college.

  27. I can help with the vegan soup at least. There’s a Valencian peasant soup called Olla Gitana made with chickpeas, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, and pears, that has an onion, tomato, paprika, and saffron mixture stirred through and is topped with fried garlic and almonds, red wine vinegar, and fresh mint. Sounds insane, tastes amazing. Also Olla Gitana translates loosely as Gypsy Pot, which I think would appeal to Van.

    A noodle dish on the specials menu would offer endless variations. Pad Thai, ramen, cacio e pepe, hawker noodles, noodle kugel, laksa, linguine vongole, Shanghai fried noodles, dammit now I’m hungry.

    I love the idea of Cheryl going full Marie Kondo, and the essential oil idea could be hilarious. I can definitely see her pushing a sugar cleanse, and Van having to try to make sugar-free dessert that doesn’t make you hate life.

    For the next chunk of story, I would like to see some external conflict where Lily has to assert or defend herself. I don’t think she’s been overly wimpy in what we’ve read so far, something like that cartoon could definitely kick you in the feels, but she hasn’t really been in charge of the story so far. And I know that the answer is probably a shrug at this point, but do we know what her goal is?

    I would also like to see the cat. Possibly while angry.

    1. Excellent. I already have a piece of that scene.

      But you’re right, it’s time Lily has a goal. Gotta be about the reincarnations. This is excellent. (I always forget goals in discovery drafts. Then I panic.)

  28. What about doing a “National Week” thing, like the National Days you post on your blog? (I suspect changing it up daily might be too much even for Cheryl.)

    She could do national pet week, ice cream week, clown week, wildlife week, library week, needlepoint week, whatever you want…

    Think of how much fun and chaos a pet adoption week could bring when she invites the local pet rescue people to the diner. I think the college students would love seeing the animals. lol What this has to do with the story, I don’t know. Maybe that’s how Lilly got her cat.

  29. An Our Psychic Friends type obsession which unexpectedly reveals reincarnation details when she tries to go psychic on Lily?

  30. Maybe Cheryl could attend a psychology of sexuality seminar and the diner could feature foods that boost libido.

    Eggs: Sex benedict, Eggstasy burger
    Asparagus: Asparus the Viagra burger, Asparagus and the single woman burger
    Spinach: Hey baby spinach salad, Oh so hot bacon-spinach salad
    Tuna: Get out of my dreams, get tuna my car sandwich

    1. Flower arranging and Van has to incorporate edible flowers into everything. The challenge of ordering supplies..
      The Kondo idea is a winner.
      Are Cheryl’s passions triggered by romances? I know people like that.. cannot say I’m generally impressed by them. Or maybe she develops the obsession and then picks up some person she meets while pursuing it.

      It’s also possible her obsessions are with particular food ingredients and that gives Van a challenge each week that makes her cookbooks interesting.

  31. Cheryl could experiment with open mic nights (or poetry nights) to bring in the college student crowd – and some truly awful performers.

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