A bread roll.
A grocery store aisle.
You could pick a lot of foods or places to tell a story of a place, of a small Midwestern city. I’m picking these three things to offer a snapshot of Goshen, how it’s changed and what it’s become.
The olive nut sandwich at Olympia Candy Kitchen, 136 N. Main St., is a throwback to another era. Owner Kare Andersen isn’t sure how it landed on the menu at the popular candy shop and soda fountain, which dates back more than 100 years.
It could be that Nicholas and Leona Paflas, Andersen’s great-grandfather, put it on the menu when they opened the diner portion in 1920. It could be that it came later.
It’s safe to say it has been on the menu for decades. Roast pork and olive sandwiches are, too. You can actually get the pork, olive and nut sandwich if you wish. (I’m going to get that one next time.)
Olive nut recipes often call for cream cheese or pecans. This version has cashews roasted at Olympia, mayonnaise made there from scratch, mixed with green olives and served with lettuce on toast. Andersen said he hasn’t seen this version in other places so it may actually be unique.
It’s such a simple little sandwich. And yet it’s beautiful. The creamy mayonnaise and the salty olives meld with the nuts. Some fall out of the bread. I don’t apologize for scooping them up with my fingers, though a fork is also provided.
People drive for miles for this sandwich. They order it and reminisce as they taste its freshness in this candy shop and diner where the booths were designed for smaller people from a different era. This is part of Goshen that is both historic and still vibrant.
The bread roll
A bolillo is a bread roll. It’s a shorter version of the French baguette. In Mexico and Central America, the bread is common and often used for sandwiches.
At the Panaderia Gutierrez Bakery, 122 S. Main St., Isabel and German Gutierrez bake dozens of rolls, cookies, pastries and breads. The best seller isn’t a pan dulce laced with sugar. It’s this simple roll, in part because they sell them to a number of local Mexican restaurants for tortas, which are sandwiches packed with meat, cheese and vegetables.
This soft roll with a brown crust has enough heft to carry an array of sandwich fillings, but cuts and chews easily.
The Gutierrez family moved here from California and opened a bakery in Goshen in 1999 before settling on Main Street in 2002. Since then, they’ve made a living making and selling bread, as well as offering fresh meat, produce and grocery items.
Business is steady and the family makes a living from this business. Edgar, one of the sons, is now working with his parents and another brother works at a local recreational vehicle company.
Hispanics moved to Goshen and that’s an American story, a Midwestern story, and one of hard work, soft bread and being part of a community.
The grocery store aisle
The bulk foods aisle at Maple City Market, 314, S. Main St., isn’t the only one in the area stocked with raw ingredients such as oatmeal, nuts and dried beans. But a high percentage of the items here are organic or aimed at a health food crowd.
Maple City Market started in 1975 as a buying club in Goshen. “Hippie food,” as writer (and former Goshen resident) Jonathan Kauffman calls it in a new book about the growing movement.
By 1981 Centre-In Food Co-op had a storefront at Fifth and Lincoln. In 1996, it moved to Main Street in what had been an IGA and Steve’s Midtown Market. In 2001, Centre-In became Maple City Market, according to Brad Alstrom, general manager.
That was before Walmart sold groceries, before organic food was on conventional store shelves. Maple City Market still has members and a board, but sells to anyone and specializes in local meat and produce.
This organic foods market and more has evolved and survived. A few tables offer spots to eat lunch. The produce is lush. And people still scoop massive amounts of bread flour into bags for home baking as they have for nearly four decades.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
(Or read the article here!)