Cereal Killer

Cereal Killer

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Cereal Killer

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

~George Bernard Shaw

My friend Dominique and I are innkeepers at Channel Road Inn. Working at a bed and breakfast hotel is fun! We take reservations, help guests with their dinner plans and we bake homemade cookies, breakfast cakes and goodies from scratch every day for our guests.

Dominique and I have been friends for a while now. We’ve shared secrets, lots of laughs and even a few tears, but lately something has come between us . . . it’s her granola recipe. She won’t tell me (or anyone!) how it’s made.

Dominique’s granola is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Sure I love the homemade banana bread and blueberry cakes we bake at the Inn. Our scones, egg soufflés and French toast are amazing and our homemade chocolate chip cookies are to die for but nothing — NOTHING! — can top Dominique’s granola.

When you ask Dominique what’s in the granola she pretends to tell you. “Oh, it’s simple — just your basic granola but I add in some fruit and I sweeten it with coconut and honey,” she says (while not looking you in the eye). But she must be leaving something out of her description because I have never tasted granola (or anything) that tastes as good as this. I cannot even hear, much less talk, when I’m eating this granola. The whole world stops moving and all I can hear is the crunching of the granola in my mouth. I can’t hear the phones or the doorbell ring and even when people talk to me, I can see their lips moving but their voices sound like they are in slow motion. In that sense, Dominique’s granola is an occupational hazard for me, so I try to eat it only after my shift has ended.

I am known to get overly exuberant about certain things, so I took a sample of Dominique’s granola to one of my girlfriends at Curves so she could tell me if she found it as amazing as I do. By the time I drove home, there was already an e-mail from my girlfriend saying, “Wow, you were not kidding! That stuff is addictive! Yum, yum, yum! I’m thinking Dominique should start small and go to farmers’ markets, fairs, etc . . . and just sell locally . . . word will spread!”

And word has spread! Though Dominique has not had time to go to farmers’ markets or fairs yet, we do have guests e-mailing and calling to ask for the recipe for Dominique’s homemade granola. Over the past twenty-three years all of the innkeepers at Channel Road Inn have been open and generous with our recipes. We freely and willingly give them to our guests and we’ll even let them watch us bake the cakes or prepare the egg soufflés and French toast so they can replicate them at home. Dominique’s granola is the only recipe they cannot have. Their response is always the same. They laugh and say, “I always knew you innkeepers had a few tricks up your sleeves,” and then they add, “No problem. But can I buy some of that granola? Could you mail it to me? I keep thinking about it.”

I like these phone calls and e-mails because they reassure me that I have not lost my mind. This granola is that good! I think about it every day and always hope Dominique has had a chance to make it when I come into work. I’ve even been known to call down to the Inn on my days off just to see if, by chance, Domi has made any granola. I scour the freezer at the Inn looking for leftovers and hidden stashes, but I rarely find any because the guests eat it by the heaping spoonfuls. On the days Dominique’s granola gets served, our homemade cakes are barely touched. People are nuts for this stuff.

My girlfriend from Curves asks me on a weekly basis how she can get more of Dominique’s granola. Though she has an apartment nearby, she’s considering booking a room at Channel Road Inn just so she can come to breakfast and eat granola. It’s that bad — this granola is ruining the lives of everyone who eats it. We all become addicts and start devoting our lives to finding out how and when we can get more granola.

And all the while, Dominique sits in the kitchen feigning surprise that everyone is rabidly searching for more granola. She’s like the Master of the Universe — the one who holds the key to our happiness. When she knows I’m having a hard week, she definitely makes granola. One time she even went out and bought coconut herself because the Inn was out of it and she knew I wanted and needed (yes, actually needed) her homemade granola that day.

We have a repeat guest at Channel Road Inn who has stayed at the Inn several times a year for the past ten years. She’s crazy about Dominique’s granola too! Like me, she has begged for the recipe and then finally settled for just eating a bowl of granola once she realized that Dominique’s vague description of “fruit, coconut and honey” is just a dodge. We all adore this guest — from her Missouri drawl to her darling grandchildren and impeccable manners, she is the most charming woman in the world.

Under normal circumstances, there’s nothing I would deny this guest, but when she checked in last week and immediately asked if “Dominique had made any granola” I had to think fast. The technical answer was, “No, Domi has not had time to make granola today.” But the underlying truth, the one that troubled my heart, was: “Domi has not had time to make granola today . . . but she did give me a small bag of it last week. I have it hidden in the back of the freezer with my name on it and I have been rationing it out to myself half a cup at a time.”

I stared at our loyal guest, wondering if I should share my secret stash with her. I love this guest . . . but I also love Dominique’s granola. I adore this guest . . . but I also adore Dominique’s granola. I should have shared my granola with this guest . . . but I didn’t. I tried to ease my conscience by offering her a cup of tea and a slice of hot vanilla streusel cake, fresh out of the oven. She politely said, “No thank you” and as I watched her walk down the hall to her room, I felt slightly bad — but not as bad as I would have felt had I given her the last of my granola.

Dominique shows her love for Channel Road Inn’s guests — and employees — through her baking. She works on her recipes for weeks to perfect them and is truly delighted when the guests “ooh and ah” over her creations. She is generous with most of her recipes, except for one. And that’s okay, because this granola is so good, I’m betting one day it will be available in stores, and then our charming guest from Missouri, my girlfriend from Curves, and I can all eat Domi’s granola to our heart’s content!

~Rebecca Hill

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