When I finally arrived at Larson's Drive Inn in Larimore, ND, I'll admit I was pretty excited. Up in the northeastern part of the state, I heard on Facebook that Larson's was one of the best food stops in NoDak, and being in Fargo last weekend, I made a detour to see what all the fuss was about.
The exterior of Larson's already makes it the perfect hole-in-the-wall. Tucked into a row of trees, across the street from a field with horses quietly grazing, with a dirt parking lot that makes you glad you didn't wear your fancy pants that day, but a bright blue roof that invites you inside, I was ready for a good burger.
And then, upon entering the tiny cafe, I saw this on the pin-up board. A restaurant review of Larson's Drive Inn by Marilyn Hagerty. 84 years old, 40 years in journalism, writing every single week about good eats in the Grand Forks region, including her Olive Garden review, which infamously went viral, and instantly made her both famous and best buds with hey-there-handsome Anthony Bourdain - plus now she's got a book deal. THE Marilyn Hagerty ate at this very same spot and gave it her two earnest thumbs up. By the way, that Olive Garden review is still one of the top five most-viewed posts on GFHerald.com. Read it here.
So then I'm uber-excited, feeling the Hagerty celebrity vibe (I say that only half in jest). As I placed my order, I considered the full 1 lb. burger for $9.50 for two seconds, and the fried pickles and fried green beans sounded great, but I settled on the more modest deluxe quarter-pounder, the corn nuggets (highly recommended on Facebook), and a chocolate malt.
While I wait for my order, I peek at that day's Grand Forks Herald and look who is on the front page.
Marilyn Hagerty, winning a prestigious award for her years in journalism. And you know, I know there are a lot of other journalists out there that have risked life and limb for a good story lately, but I say good for her. Marilyn's journey brings me joy. I love this idea that life can alter dramatically at the age of 84, or frankly at any age. Julia Child didn't learn to cook until she was in her 40s. Clint Eastwood is 82 and still awesome (when he's not talking to empty chairs, at least). There is hope for the rest of us.
My food arrives and it's exactly what I wanted. A great burger on a sesame seed bun, a classic malt, and these corn nuggets that are like little fried pieces of your grandma's Thanksgiving creamed corn. I don't know how they make those, but I'm glad they do. I munched and read the article, and left with both a full tummy and an inspired spirit.
I can't wait to be 84.