Yours truly has just returned from a splendiferous trip to Charleston, a city so rich in history it requires its tour guides to carry a license. That's taking your tourism seriously. After oohing and ahhing at glorious old buildings for three days, I reluctantly came home to plain old Minnesota. On the ride home from the airport, it occurred to me that nothing is interesting in your homeland. The closer I got to Anoka, home of Whirled Peas Headquarters, the more the oddity of this realization struck me. If I didn't roam Anoka everyday, if it wasn't so familiar, I'm sure I'd be just as awed by the history of this city as I was by Charleston. Sure, we don't have the distinction of being the first state to secede, nor were the first shots of the Civil War fired on our soil, but we are a pretty historic river town in our own right (and the Halloween capital of the world!).
Something I've always loved about Anoka is its determination to preserve that history. Instead of tearing down old buildings to put up new ones with old-timey facades (like a certain town I know, which shall remain nameless), the city simply re-purposes the existing structures. The old post office, a stately brick structure, is now home to shops and eateries (our personal favorite, if you're in the area, is Cornerstone, makers of one fierce Oreo cookie salad). Main Street has done its best to keep its past alive, just like Charleston.
Which is why I think Anoka is such a good fit for Eat Your Peas. Never mind that the town spawned our author; that's besides the point. Anoka tries to preserve its uniqueness and independent spirit, rather than allowing faceless chains to infiltrate the main drag and transform it into a clone of every other shopping town in the area. These are the retailers who are in it for the love and for the long haul. They actually want to get to know their customers and make sure they're happy, and they don't need a big, generic building to do it in. Weird, huh?
On the drive home, I just might have to make a point of oohing and ahhing at at least a few buildings.