“Jou donna haff ta eat soup fhrom a bo”
It’s been almost 20 years to the day since that headline graced the pages of the University of Nevada, Reno Sagebrush newspaper. It was written by me (as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say it) to accompany the HEARTBURN food column by Nancy Louvat, who was also the newspaper’s variety editor. HEARTBURN ran every Tuesday, and it sported a cringe-worthy logo created by yours truly. That particular column featured four recipes for undergraduates to make cheap-yet-hearty meals with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.
We probably had more fun — the two of us, designing her features section — than any other staffers at the paper. We’d listen to Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark on the boom box, talk smack about everything and everyone, and even came up with “Face of the Day,” where we’d be able to communicate non-verbally throughout the eight- to 12-hour production night with a mere look. You know the adage, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Nancy and I made lemonade out of the lemons that was the Sagebrush that year. Even on days where we wanted to throw the Macintosh (or fellow staffers) through the wall, we still found opportunities to make each other laugh. In fact, Nancy was almost solely responsible for me ending my Doc Splatter comic strip, forcing my character to blow his head off in shame.
That semester at the Sagebrush would prove to be my last; I quit barely a month later, prematurely ending my other comic strip Like, For Shore! in the process. Nancy finished the year as variety editor and then also said goodbye to the Sagebrush for good.
Nancy married mutual friend and Sagebrush staffer, Greg Moyle, and they had a son, Jacob. Nancy, Greg and I all stayed tight until I moved to San Diego in 1994, and then kept in contact intermittently after that. It wasn’t until the Era of Facebook that we were able to reconnect with reliable frequency. In that gulf of time, Nancy remarried and now she’s Nancy Horn.
It’s worth noting that in the 20 years since the days of Sagebrush, we’ve both parlayed our passions into careers. Mine: I’m a full-time cartoonist, continually chronicling and publishing the misadventures of the same characters found two decades earlier in the Sagebrush. And Nancy — who was the first foodie I’d even known, launched DISH Cafe and Catering in November of 2002. DISH Cafe is found on 855 Mill Street in Reno, walking distance from Renown Medical Center, the Reno Gazette-Journal and scores of other businesses.
It was a special thrill to introduce Darlene to Nancy last year. Nancy was one of the few long-time friends of mine whom Darlene had only heard of via my outlandish and possibly exaggerated tales. (“Darlene, did I tell you that Nancy was the person who invented the phrase, ‘Oh. My. GOD.’?”) These two foodie Horns hit it off from the nanosecond they met. Soon, we garnered odd glances from DISH Cafe patrons (and staffers), as we were howling with laughter about current events and days gone by. As we were leaving our all-too-brief visit, Darlene confessed to me she “totally has a girl-crush” on Nancy.
Since I don’t live in Reno, I won’t pretend I have a whole lot of first-person DISH Cafe knowledge, but here’s what I do know: Nancy is beloved in the community for not only providing a tasty menu, but for her charming personality and passion of food. In the hour Darlene and I were having breakfast at DISH, we noticed that Nancy knew every single patron by name. Nancy and her husband Joe founded Slow Food Reno, a non-profit group that advocates locally grown and humanely raised food. DISH Cafe has won numerous area awards and the Horns are luminaries in the Northern Nevada food scene. They both have blogs and maintain a DISH Cafe Web site, as well as Facebook group pages and they Tweet daily specials.
The time-peg for this post: DISH Cafe will be featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives tonight. Please tune in. I look forward to seeing Nancy interact with Guy Fieri (she’s no shrinking violet) and hearing her infectious, nasally braying laugh. I’m really happy for her and she’s most deserving of this honor.
If you find yourself in Northern Nevada, add DISH Cafe to your list of places to patronize. It’s a breakfast-and-lunch joint, so it’s a perfect alternative to the ubiquitous fast food croissandwiches, corporate coffeehouse chains and mundane casino fare. I can attest that their turkey sandwiches and iced mochas are fresh and tasty. And heck, you can also buy my books there. (Thanks, Nancy!)
DISH on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36234097744
Slow Food Reno on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=57045575813
Nancy’s blog: http://dishingup.wordpress.com/
Joe’s blog: http://cookingquest.wordpress.com/