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The Land of Enchantment

I was scheduled to arrive in Albuquerque at 9:30 p.m., pick up my rental car, drive to my sister's, pick her up, and go eat dinner at the Flying Star, a quasi cafeteria-style New Mexico only chain restaurant that serves fresh food and seems to exist just for me.

The Flying Star menu includes a few varieties of mixed green salads with gnarly hunks of cheese and wafers of carrot and cucumber and any and all type of vegetable. They serve Greek and Oriental salads, and will top any salad with chicken, and salmon too, if you care. You can get a hamburger, a tofu burger, soups, wraps, sandwiches of poultry, fresh, egg, and tuna salads, and of course the usual array of drinks, fancy strong coffee, sodas, teas, cold and hot, and a special drink they call "red drink." I never asked what was in "red drink," but I had a couple, and they were good, and thankfully not all that red tasting.

They used to make a kind of malted/egg cream at the Flying Star that I loved. It mixed sparkling soda water, a shot of vanilla, a few small ice cubes on the bottom, cream, whipped cream, and a cherry. They no longer serve it, but during a late-evening sweet run I made toward the end of my trip, the counter I had who'd worked back when they served the malted, improvised me one. Served in a fountain glass with a straw and spoon, it was for me a desert to eat and enjoy that didn't leave you feeling over loaded.

At the Flying Star you place your order with a waitperson up at a cafeteria-type assembly-line counter. The waitperson directs you to a register down the line at which you'll meet her and pay your tally. They make your drink, and set it on a tray that has a stainless steel holder with your number pinched into the top. You go to a table and a runner brings your meal to your number.

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