Like a lot of other things, The Summer of Chicken and Biscuits started innocently enough, on a whim. It was a Wednesday night in June, and, with the sun still high in a cloudless sky, it was a nice night for a drive. We hadn't been to the Wheel Inn in Benson, VT for a spell--where they cook up the best chicken and biscuits in Vermont on Wednesday nights--and so we hopped in the car and set off.
Those of you who have taken an evening drive in these parts about this time of year will know that the peonies are blooming, the tree canopies are swaying with the light spring breeze, and the smell of lilacs perfumes the air. (Those of you who haven't should get around to it pretty darn quick.) What with all the sights and sounds and smells the ride sugared off nice and pleasant--even with my kids in the back seat.
Yessiree, things were good when we pulled into the driveway of the Wheel Inn there on the four-corners of Benson--God's Country. There was even a spot in the parking lot and a table in the dining area. (No waiting for chicken and biscuits? Can you imagine such a thing?)
Our good fortunes continued: No, they hadn't run out of biscuits (according to Kim, the waitress) and, at least for the time being, the Victory Circle Pie was still in good supply--but no promises, of course. It is, naturally, unthinkable to go to the Wheel Inn and not have pie, not when they bake over a dozen different varieties right there in the kitchen. (I like all of them best.)
Nice thing about chicken and biscuits is the service, of course. It's about all I can do to take a few sips of my Switchback lager (think heaven in a sixteen-oz glass) before the plates slap down on the table, brimming over with baking powder biscuits, chunks of chicken in gravy, and enough mashed potatoes to fortify a barn full of square-dancers. It's the peas I come for, though, a mess of them wedged in between the biscuit and the mound of mashed, soaking in chicken gravy--just the way my doctor recommends them.
Now, I mentioned this before, but I'm old enough to repeat myself, so I'll say it again: No trip to the Wheel Inn is complete without pie. It's just downright unnatural, like electric cars and left-handed people, not to have pie when you are in Benson. The problem is--in complete contrast to the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination--there are just too damn many good choices. Unofficially and off the top of the my head, we have Apple, Raspberry, Coconut creme, Chocolate cream, Victory Circle (think Toll House), Peanut Butter, Blueberry, Banana Cream, Blackberry, Walnut, Pecan, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Almond Joy. For those of you <gasp> who don't like pie, there is Grapenut mouse, Three-berry crisp, and their famous Cheesecake.
There are few things I can compare to the feeling of leaving The Wheel Inn after chicken and biscuits, but walking up a steep hill with a refrigerator tied to your back is one of them. Best to bring a leather awl with you to make another notch in your belt, or just wear elastic pants. (No sweatpants please: This isn't Fair Haven!)
And so began the Summer of Chicken and Biscuits. It's been a great run--no doubt--but I suspect that once the school year begins we'll get busy with soccer, piano lessons, Jazz band, scouts, Key Club and whatever else we fill our time with. It's one of the things I like best about Chicken and Biscuits at the Wheel Inn (besides the pie), it's a throwback to a simpler and less over-scheduled time, when families actually ate meals together.
But enough of that, it's Wednesday night, time to get on the road to Benson for the the last Chicken and Biscuits of the summer. I can't wait to get to those peas...
Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Cons, the literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter is He can be reached at email@example.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at firstname.lastname@example.org.