Today's column is by the Bowling Gourmet.
It's a little-known fact that if you're a bowler, you're food junkie. Has something to do with the sound of bowling balls rumbling down the lanes and the thunder of pins falling in the pits. It's true -- if you bowl, you eat.
So how come there has never been a bowlers' guide to better eating? Mostly because bowling center food isn't usually worth thinking about, much less writing about. I mean, there's pizza and beer and there's pizza and beer; how exciting is that?
But a new day is dawning, the day when you can eat actual food in a bowling center.
The time has come for real food cooked on a real stove instead of a piece of cardboard with cheese and tomato sauce thrust into a microwave. And the Bowling Gourmet, once again on the cutting edge of what's new in bowling center food, has found the leader in this almost forgotten field.
Hampstead Bowling Center has the usual menu that you can find in every bowling center, but you can also eat real food cooked by a real cook on a real stove.
And if you stop on a Saturday morning, you can have a country breakfast cooked by Pat Harmel that will last you until approximately next Tuesday.
Saturday morning at Hampstead Lanes is special: This is the only day breakfast is dished up by Harmel. There's french toast, muffins and egg and cheese, bacon and sausage and hash browns and homemade jam and scrapple. That's right, scrapple. After a long but finally successful campaign by this columnist, scrapple has come to Hampstead Lanes for Saturday breakfast.
How expensive is Saturday breakfast at Hampstead? Last Saturday two eggs, home fries, a large coffee, toast with homemade strawberry jam and a huge slab of scrapple cost well over $2. About the same as a Big Mac and a soda.
Don't want to go for a bundle? Try a muffin and egg sandwich for 99 cents, or french toast for a buck-and-a-half. We're talkin' small change here, folks, for real food cooked on a real stove by a real cook.
Pat Harmel, when she isn't cooking breakfast, is employed by Random House in the credit and collections department. She lives in Manchester with her husband, Jim, and bowls in the Wednesday Ladies Night Out League, where she carries a 154 average, has a high game of 223 and a high series in excess of 500.
Jim, a converted duckpin bowler, does his bowling at Kings Point in Randallstown, where he carries a 207 average.
"Jim comes from a bowling family," Pat said. "His mother, Avaleene Gammon, is 78 years old and still bowls in three or four duckpin leagues a week."
And still carries a 123 average in that most difficult of sports.
Assisting Pat behind the counter at Hampstead is Danny Plummer, a resident of Hampstead who had been working for two of his 18 years at the center. A graduate of North Carroll High School, Plummer is a business major at Carroll Community College. A skier and tennis player, Danny still finds time to carry a 97 average in the "Have A Ball" duckpin league Wednesday nights.
OK, you the kind of person that skips breakfast? How about the rest of the food?
You can get all the old standbys, but you can also have a crab cake, if you like. And the egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad are made fresh every day.
"If my customer wants chicken soup, I'll make 'em chicken soup," said Pat Harmel. "At Hampstead we spoil the customers, not the food."
I= The homemade strawberry jam? That's made by Karen Wisner.
Pete Woolford of Eldersburg doesn't just keep getting older, he keeps getting better. The 69-year-old retired federal employee started bowling 10 years ago.
"I'm just sorry that I didn't get started earlier," Woolford said.
No wonder. He's upped his fall/winter average from 179 to 183. In the 1991-1992 Harrison High Roller League at Thunderhead Lanes in Westminster, Woolford made that almost impossible split, the seven-ten.
That 183 average made one leg of the Triple Crown; the high game was 279 and the high set was 651. This summer the president of the Harrison High Rollers is bowling two leagues: the Tuesday Night Owls and the Thursday King Pins. On June 11, Woolford threw a 626 set.
"I' not doing bad for an old guy," Woolford. "I'm almost 70 and I'm having a good year. The next goal is that 300 game and a 700 series."
, Just a matter of time, Pete.
Through today: Amateur Duckpin Tour at Fair Lanes Middlesex in Baltimore County. (410) 686-2121
Through today: National Amateur Bowlers Inc., tournament at Terrace Lanes in Frederick; first-place guarantee of $1,000. (301) 662-2777
Through today: Clear Skies Duckpin Doubles Tournament at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown; first prize is $400. (410) 751-1750
Through Aug. 22: 3rd Annual Country Club Classic at Country Club Lanes in Baltimore; three handicap divisions; first place is a guaranteed $4,000 plus a special event each week with extra prize money and Hammer bowling balls. (410) 686-2556
Through Aug. 23: County Lanes ten pin tournament; starting times are 6, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; ABC/WIBC rules. (410) 857-1977 or 876-8430
July 3-31: Adult Low Scoring Bowling Tournament at Hampstead Lanes. (410) 374-6211
Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28: Adult Nine-Or-Better-Across-The-Lanes (ten pin) or Seven-Or-Better-Across-The-Lanes (duck pin) tournaments at Hampstead Lanes. (410) 374-6211