Danish pastry: (n) a light, rich, flaky pastry, often filled with cheese, nuts and raisins, custard, or fruit.
Back when I first started traveling—when it was still hilarious to make fun of disco—the motel industry was a much different collaboration–collaboration in the sense that those who rented out rooms to strangers were well-known for joining together and agreeing on prices, perks and general hospitality approach.
So after years and years of leaving it up to the customer to find some sort of breakfast the morning after sleeping in the lodge, it occurred to one of these inn-keepers that it might be nice to offer a breakfast of some sort.
Yet this innovator, and his brothers and sisters to follow, were quite intimidated at the notion of giving away something free to the consumer, just to appear hospitable in a hospitality industry.
So the general fare became hot, anemic coffee and cellophane wrapped Danishes.
Often, they had an employee posted next to the Danish, to make sure nobody took more than one.
It was an improvement.
I developed a taste for each one of these pastries. I will give you my favorites, in an ascending order:
5. Berry Danish (just a little too tart)
4. Prune Danish (if you could wrap your mind around the idea of prunes)
3. Strawberry Danish (not nearly as tart as the berry—and more pleasing, like jelly)
2. Cinnamon Danish (if warmed it just right in a microwave, it was like being a kid again, chomping on cinnamon toast)
1. And Number One, by far—Cheese Danish. (Especially when all the corners are nibbled, and you’re down to the middle section, which was all cheesy-sweet and caloric)
Each establishment felt it was generous to offer the Danish and coffee. Some even tipped their prices upward to cover the cost.
At one stop, I commented to the boss-man that “in no time at all, they would have to improve from Danish and coffee, to a full menu of breakfast items.”
He laughed at me. His response?
“No one’s going to do that. It’s too expensive, and we’d go bankrupt.”
Move ahead about a decade, and now there are very few friendly motels that don’t at least offer you an egg patty and a sausage link.
Here’s something to always remember:
You will never go bankrupt offering food to people.
They will remember, they will pick you again and they will comment on how nice you were to provide them grits and gravy.