Recently I read that there is far more to Florida’s Keys than ever imagined. Additional archipelago formations not far from the well-known chain of islands connecting Florida to Key West have appeared, which were quickly inhabited and claimed by businesses and eccentric individuals seeking to literally putting themselves on the map. I got curious about these New Keys and decided to embark on a journey that would forever change my perceptions of the world.
After packing my bags and loading my car, I headed south to Key Largo, which had an exit to Highway 1.5 that branched west to offer a passageway connecting the newly discovered archipelago formations that made up the New Keys. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see.
After a half hour of driving on Highway 1.5 and admiring the scenic sights of the ocean, I arrived at Potato Key, known for having the perfect soil for growing endless bounties of potatoes. I was hungry so I pulled into a roadside diner aptly named The Potato Pit.
“Welcome!” the waitress greeted me as I entered to take a seat at the counter. She handed me a menu and stood patiently nearby as I decided what to order.
Potato pancakes, potato salad, potato soup, baked potato, french fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, potato pie, hash browns, tater tots, potato bread, potato doughnuts, potato skins, potato waffles, potato wedges, poutine, gnocchi, potato casserole, latkes, potato pizza, potato rolls, potato pretzels, potato potatoes, popped potatoes, frosted potato flakes, potato ice cream, potato milkshakes…
I opted for a baked potato while I waited for my order decided to strike up a conversation with the waitress, whose name was Sue.
“It seems strange that there’s soil this far south that’s ideal for growing potatoes,” I said. Curiously, there was no response. Sue stood there, her face locked in a grimace as she struggled to maintain her composure.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!” She screamed. “That’s all I ever hear! It’s always potato this, potato that. I haven’t heard one sentence without the word ‘potato’! People always coming in here and saying hi, I’ll have a baked potato. I’ll have some mashed potatoes. Gimme a potato beer! Every day, it’s potato this, potato that! Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes! I’m SICK of that word!”
“But this is Potato Key,” I offered.
“AAARGH!” I heard a scream from the kitchen as the cook suddenly appeared. “YOU THINK YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE SICK OF THAT WORD?” he screamed at Sue before he fled the diner.
After taking several deep breaths, Sue placed a plate in front of me.
“Here’s your baked…” she stammered. “Your baked…your baked…your baked…”
“Potato,” I said.
“AAARGH!” Sue screamed before she too fled the diner, leaving me the only one there. I finished my meal, left enough cash to cover the check and tip and left to resume my trip.
And yet it was only getting started…
To be continued…