The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 1, 2012

Mike Pound: Farmers market offers great lunch

By Mike Pound

— Sometimes the best cheeseburger is the one you don’t expect.

Say you go to a place that is famous for its cheeseburgers. Say that place is called Ralph’s World’s Best Cheeseburger, and when Ralph sets his world famous cheeseburger down in front of you, you take a bite and you find yourself disappointed.

Is it the cheeseburger that leaves you disappointed, or is it the buildup that leaves you disappointed?

I say it’s the buildup. Unless Ralph did something silly like put sprouts on his cheeseburger. I hate sprouts on cheeseburgers.

Now I have never had sprouts on a cheeseburger. For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever had sprouts. I’m not even sure what a sprout is. I just know that I don’t want them on my cheeseburger.

Sometimes you can oversell a cheeseburger is what I’m saying.

I wasn’t expecting a cheeseburger Tuesday, but my wife called me and told me that she had to back out of a noon meeting she was supposed to attend.

“Why?” I asked.

“I spilled something on my shirt,” my wife said.

“What?” I asked.

“Never mind,” my wife said.

So I never minded.

Since my wife couldn’t go to her meeting, she asked if I wanted to go to lunch. I said I did, and my wife asked where I wanted to eat. I suggested two places, and my wife rejected both. Sort of makes you wonder why my wife asked me, doesn’t it?

Then I remembered that the Webb City Farmers Market is now open on Tuesdays, so I suggested we grab a bite there. Mike Wiggins, with Granny Shaffer’s Family Restaurant, is now serving up lunches at the farmers market.

When we walked into the pavilion at the market in King Jack Park, I looked at all the produce and baked goods.

“Do we want to look, then eat and then shop?” I asked my wife.

“Eat first,” my wife said.

When my wife is hungry, she tends to get a tad taciturn.

I saw Mike standing behind a table that was holding a tray of plates, mustard, ketchup, lettuce and diced onions. Behind Mike, a nice woman was working over a gas grill containing several hamburger patties. As we walked up to the table, Mike had two large, grilled hot dogs on buns topped with sauerkraut.

Before I saw the hot dogs, I was sure I was going to order a cheeseburger. Then I gave the dogs a thought. Then I gave chicken salad sandwiches a thought. Then I went back to the cheeseburger. Then I thought about the dogs.

I was conflicted.

“I’ll have the hot dog with kraut,” my wife said.

She was not conflicted.

By the way, Mike and the nice woman will be serving up burgers, dogs and chicken salads every Tuesday at the market. On Fridays, the menu will change a bit, and they will serve more home-style dishes such as chicken and noodles.

After my wife ordered her dog, I opted for the cheeseburger. It proved to be a wise opt. The burger was as close to perfect as a cheeseburger can be. It was done just right, and the cheese was melted just the way I like it. What Mike and the nice woman working the grill do to get the cheese on the burger to melt just the right way is to put a lid from a pot over the burger while the cheese melts.

Is there a Nobel Prize for cheeseburgers?

There should be. The burger I had Tuesday would be the clear winner.

And the best thing about the cheeseburger? I wasn’t expecting it.