Cheeseburger in Paradise
Kansas City – in Kansas – on a Saturday night. We headed off to Legends, a vast shopping mall built around a racetrack and sportsfields. An island building in the huge carpark, Cheeseburger in Paradise was our destination. There were thirty hungry BookCrossers to be fed. Just one of those convention meals that arise. You know how it goes.
“Say, where we all eating tonight?”
“Anywhere you want, honey.”
“We thought we’d ask a local. Like you.”
“Well, there’s this cheeseburger place that’s kind of fun. There’s a Books-A-Million branch nearby…”
And before you know it, half the convention is joining you for dinner and you need a whole bunch of tables.
I’ve been listening to Jimmy Buffett since the 1980s. His bouncy ballads of island life and margaritas and sailing and just lazing about have hit my buttons. Perfect for conjuring up a different lifestyle when your own is full of grey clouds and storms. He’ll have you smiling by the end of the first track, tapping your toes in the second, and if you haven’t got a party going with jugs full of cold drinks halfway through the album, you’re in serious trouble.
Cheeseburger in Paradise is a typical bit of Buffett fluff. It sold about a bazillion copies, and it describes the perfect meal for a sailor finishing a cruise where the only food left aboard is peanut butter and beans. This is the meal Jimmy was dreaming about:
…at night I’d have these wonderful dreams
Some kind of sensuous treat
Not zucchini, fettucini, or bulgar wheat
But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat
Cheeseburger in paradise
Heaven on earth with an onion slice
Medium rare with mustard’d be nice
Not too particular, not too precise
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise
I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer
Well, good god Almighty which way do I steer?
I stuck to the Jimmy Buffett prescription exactly. Apart from the medium rare part. I don’t hold with minced meat being anything less than cooked all the way through. Fine for a steak to be pink inside, but with mince, some of the original surface could be in the middle of the pattie. You want any germs that may have been on the surface to be well and truly cooked out.
I was also driving, so I swapped out the cold draft beer for a mug of root beer. Well, it’s beer, innit?
Whatever, the meal was one to dream about, and one to remember fondly forever. You can bet every time I hear that song, I’ll be back in Kansas City!
The burger was superb, the service smiling and perky from some young thing who looked like she’d just come from her day job as a waitress at a tropic beach resort, and the atmosphere was good fun, the decor themed down to Hawai’ian labels on the restrooms. Windsurfers, palms, sails and shells. Food and drinks to match. I loved it. It was perfect.
We were staying in Overland Park at the DoubleTree, and there’s actually another Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant closer to the hotel, but we went off to Legends. I had plugged the closer one into the GPS just to make sure if we lost the car we were following, and all the way there the GPS would tell us to do a u-turn and it was “Recalculating, dammit”. I was certain that the people ahead had made a serious mistake and we’d eventually have to turn around and go all the way back, late for dinner.
Quite a drive, and I was lost after about the sixth big highway! It was a relief to find a park and see the big neon sign, with a platoon of hungry BookCrossers outside.The mall is vast, full of fountains and shops. Discoverylover steered me into Books-A-Million where I bought a few titles, including The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel (Bookcrossing copy currently in the hands of my day driver), and a semi-new Robert A Heinlen juvenile: Variable Star, on special for $4.95.
This was also the place where I discovered Maurice Sendak, reading his Where the Wild Things Are to Discoverylover, and being arterly charmed.
BookCrossing is this crazy American idea where you go to the BookCrossing.com website, enter some details about your book, get an ID number which you write on the book (usually on a label which gives instructions) and then release it “into the wild” on a park bench, a coffeeshop table, on a cable car…
There is nothing quite like getting a bunch of BookCrossers together and doing crazy stuff, just giving books away!
- The restaurant website
- The Wikipedia entry for the song
- The Wikipedia entry for the restaurant chain