We are like the swallows that return to San Juan Capistrano, although the analogy really ends with the concept of returning. We don’t arrive in Key West on the same day each year. We don’t settle in for seven months, and we don’t build mud huts. Tourists don’t find us particularly interesting either.
No matter. Every winter when we come south I get this urge to return to Key West. There are many reasons to visit, but the only “must” reason is to eat at Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street. This morning we did just that.
Sloppy Joe’s claims to be where the sandwich of the same name was invented. It may or may not be true – depending on which local inhabitant you talk with – but it doesn’t matter. Both Earl and I believe Sloppy Joe’s sloppy joe is the best on the planet. Yes, I said the planet.
Entering the esablishment from various wide open doors, you seat yourself, signal a server, and settle in to watch the people, most of whom definitely have a tourist pedigree. A guitarist accompanied by an invisible back-up band on a singalong CD takes you back to your folk rock days. Bobbie McGee returns too.
Soon your sandwich arrives, and it is a work of culinary art in a cardboard container. The giant bun is grilled before the messy meaty concoction of beef, onions, and tomato sauce is generously ladled on top. Given the sweet taste of the sandwich, I think green chilis are the secret ingredient; but I can’t document this. We chomp and chew in silence while the guitarist wails. It’s not even Noon, and we’ve hit the high point of the day.
No swallows could ever have felt more excited.