We’re taking a road trip this weekend.
So, I drove to the gas station to fuel up.
Not just any gas station, mind you. One that Google Maps told me is exactly 18 minutes from my house.
I’m sure that I passed many, many other gas stations on my way to this particular one—the one that boasts the Sunoco Café and the famous Mama Mary’s Hummus.
Yes, I made a trek to Olmsted Falls to stock up on homemade Middle Eastern chickpea dip.
From a gas station.
Because it is delicious.
Mama Mary says she makes it with love.
You can tell.
The station started selling hummus a few years ago, after customers saw the enticing treats that Muntaha Dari (Mama Mary) would whip up for her son, Khalil Dari, who owns the station.
They wanted to try some of that freshly prepared goodness, and they didn’t even care that they had to file past gas pumps in order to sample it for themselves.
Mama Mary specializes in funky flavors like Bacon, Kalamata Olive, Jalapeño, and Everything Bagel.
I cannot wait to dunk some soft pita and fresh veggies into the Spicy and Sundried Tomato Feta varieties as we travel and snack on a taste of home.
On the way to the Sunoco Café to buy our road hummus, I drove through the quaint streets of historic Olmsted Falls, with lovely little walking trails and unique storefronts shaded by large trees that had just begun dropping their colorful leaves.
Northeast Ohio has so many hidden gems.
But we’re not precious about them.
Just like Mama Mary, we like to share the love.
All of us who live in the region tend to think of ourselves as Clevelanders.
I have the benefit of a Zip code that’s reserved for those who live in the city proper, but I consider all of my neighbors in the suburbs an hour in each direction as part of my hometown too.
And what I’ve always said about Cleveland is that it is a “we” city, not a “me” city.
We support each other here.
We celebrate our quirkiness and our grittiness and our work ethic and our natural resources.
We cheer for our sports teams no matter what.
We patronize the arts and contribute to our communities.
We drive 18 minutes away to get hummus from a gas station.
I was tapped to write this column because I post (probably way too many) stories about my always unpredictable—but never dull—life in Cleveland on my Facebook page, and my friends laugh.
I am pretty sure they’re laughing with me—not at me.
Because they can relate.
The people who live here are real.
They’re down-to-earth and kind, and while they are serious in their pursuits, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
With that tone in mind, I accepted a six-month gig to share my foibles and feats of middle-aged motherhood in the midst of a pandemic.
Who knew it would be such fun?
I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to connect with many of you who look forward to a fresh new FreshWater in your inboxes each week.
Now it’s time for someone new to contribute to ChroniCLEs, shining a spotlight on the weird and wonderful in their own original way.
In Cleveland, there is no shortage of exciting stories to be told, interesting perspectives to highlight, cool places to explore, or awesome people to meet.
There’s adventure around every corner.
If you haven’t spent time traveling the region lately, now’s a good time hit the open road.
While the pandemic limits the number of stops you can make, you can still take in our amazing neck of the woods from behind the wheel.
Do a little leaf peeping.
Let the autumn breeze blow through the car windows as you pass through the big city and an array of unique and interesting smaller towns.
Appreciate the sights and sounds and significance of this gorgeous and exciting corner of the world.
Trust me, it will fill your cup.
And when it’s time to fill your tank, be sure to make a pit stop in Olmsted Falls.
Mama Mary just posted on Instagram that her fridge is stocked with Pomegranate Hummus.
You do not want to miss that.
We’ve loved having Kathleen Osborne share her views of Cleveland in FreshWater. As much as we hate to see her go, we wish her all the best in her future adventures. If you are interested in guest writing, please contact us.