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Door County Duck

Why do I write of this duck? I didn’t grow up on duck. My mom reminds me tonight (and I well remember) of the one duck she’s cooked in her life, a Thanksgiving bird of family lore because it barely fed all of us at the table. Duck was not in my upbringing.

And I did not expect a fantastic meal tonight. I ordered the duck, in part, because the dish contained no gluten. A Door County duck with Door County cherries and port. (Or, as Jerry likes to say: Dork-ounty.) I sliced meat from the char-grilled bone, swooped up a cherry and bit into astonishment. Something about this meal made my stomach warm. I kept thinking of a single word: Home.

And yet. And yet, as I have already established, I rarely ate duck at home (the home of my youth). I have eaten phenomenal duck in Bali; just last month, I savored a tasty duck in my Laotian noodle soup. It was wonderful, but my stomach didn’t rejoice the way it did tonight. Warm, comfort, home: the words on my mind.

So I ask: Can a body’s subconscious determine the foods of its origins? Can a native food feel like home even though it isn’t part of a person’s memories? Does the stomach know — sometimes better than the mind — the food that nourishes us from nearby?

Of course. Of course, the body knows what’s grown naturally, locally, many would say. And I believe that. But tonight, I actually felt it in a Door County duck. I felt it from mouth to gut.

Where? Heaven City Restaurant, Mukwonago, in an old historic building with ghost stories galore. I can’t vouch for the sea scallops, crab legs and other non-native offerings. But for me, the duck hit home.

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