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Tastes and Tales from the Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum: Dishes that Inspire, Stories that Delight from Michigan's Most Unusual Eatery

Tastes and Tales from the Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum: Dishes that Inspire, Stories that Delight from Michigan's Most Unusual Eatery

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Tastes and Tales from the Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum: Dishes that Inspire, Stories that Delight from Michigan's Most Unusual Eatery

316 pagine
1 ora
Aug 11, 2020


It's not often you hear fellow diners playing the tuba while you decide between stir fry and baba ghanoush, but this was normal at The Traveler's Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum in Okemos, Michigan. Whether you were an out-of-town musician trying one of the vintage tubas, or a local stopping by for the third time that week, The Traveler's Club offered you more than just great food—it gave you something to look forward to.

For twenty years, The Traveler's Club was Jennifer Byrom's respite for diners and employees alike, where she crafted both her recipes and relationships with care. While its doors are now closed, its spirit lives on. In Tastes and Tales from the Traveler's Club, Jennifer shares the recipes and philosophies that took a tiny hole-in-the-wall on a sleepy street corner to a state-wide treasure. You'll learn how Jennifer makes her famous falafel, the ingredients that should always be in your pantry, and why the "rules" of her recipes are meant to be broken. Above all, you'll see how life was a little brighter—and people were a lot happier—inside the four walls of The Traveler's Club.
Aug 11, 2020

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Tastes and Tales from the Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum - Jennifer Byrom

Dishes that Inspire, Stories that Delight from Michigan’s Most Unusual Eatery

Jennifer Byrom

LifeNeedsTaste Press

copyright © 2020 jennifer byrom

All rights reserved.

tastes and tales from the travelers club international restaurant & tuba museum

Dishes that Inspire, Stories that Delight from Michigan’s Most Unusual Eatery

isbn 978-1-5445-1445-1 Paperback

isbn 978-1-5445-1446-8 Hardcover

isbn 978-1-5445-1444-4 Ebook

Cover author photo: Mark Chamberlin

Food photos: Yu Sean Wang

To my three sons, Joshua, Matthew, and Jason Cunningham, with all my love and gratitude.

Diversity is not a recipe for tranquility.


I am particularly fond of this quote. I heard it while watching a documentary on Abraham Lincoln on PBS. I attribute it to him, but there may be no relationship.

In many ways, it describes me and my life.

If anyone wants to be creative, they have to be about change.

—Miles Davis

The Travelers Club was a source of great comfort and inspiration, if not tranquility, for me. I can write this book and be glad for all it describes and for all the people who will read it.




Of Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equality



Informal Timeline

What Is Authentic?



Miller’s Ice Cream

Ice Cream

Politically Correct

Early Kitchen


Growing Up

Local Business

PC, Again




Science Friday


Why a Tuba Museum?

Majestic Monster



Iranian Photos

Community Participation



Why the Condiment Trays?


Taking It with Us


Travelers Club Cream of Tomato Soup

To Peel or Not to Peel

Rotating Menus

Japanese Bar

Marching Tubas

Smashed Tuba

Music At Travelers Club

Notes from William White

Where Friends and Continents Meet


House Recipes

Which Recipe?

Travelers Club Frijoles (Refried Beans)

Porotos Granados (Chilean Beans with Corn and Squash)

Beans, Glorious Beans

Black Beans, Travelers Club-Style

Cooking Beans

Cobbler (Filling)

Cobbler (Crisp) Topping

Baking Spice Blend

India, Parsee Eggs

Mediterranean Mix

William’s Superbad Italian Pasta Marinara

Travelers Club Peanut Sauce

Sweet Soy Sauce

Cream of Tomato Soup


1971–1972: The Trip


Nigerian Pepper Chicken

Jollof Rice

African Mchanyanto

Nigerian Spinach Ata






Dried Fruit Soup

Michoteta (Cucumber and Cheese Salad)

Ararat Pilaf

Beef or Lamb Keufta

Simple Salad


APRIL: India

Spiced Trout

Lime Yogurt Chicken

Fenugreek Potatoes

Chola Chaat (Chickpea, Herb, and Potato Salad)


Lentils. Legumes.

Brinjal Sambhar (Spiced Eggplant and Lentil Casserole)

Coconut Rice Pudding


Chicken and Melon Salad

Chicken and Cabbage Salad

Dengaku Miso Stir Fry

Fried Fish with Peanuts

Spice Blends

JULY: Caribbean

BBQ Sauce

Caribbean Coleslaw

Caribbean Coconut Curry Sauce


Peruvian Fish Anticuchos

Chilaquiles (Cheese and Tortilla Casserole)

Peruvian Rabbit Stew

Nopalitos (Cactus) Salad

Bolivian Cabbage Soup

Salada Carioca

Chunto (Guatemalan Turkey Chowder)


Norwegian Fiskesalat


Spanish Grilled Tuna and Sweet Pepper Salad

Chicken Paprikash

Garlicky Brown Butter Spinach

Liptauer Cheese Dip

Spanish Figs and Triple Sec



Travelers Club Salsa

Salsa Verde with Tomatillos

Sweet and Sour Tomato Chutney

Fresh Vegetable Chutney

Ajilimojili (Puerto Rican Fresh Salsa)

Salsa Verde

Mango Chop

Mint Cilantro Chutney

Miso Dengaku

Sesame Mustard Sauce

Sesame Soy Sauce

Beer at the Travelers Club


Sesame Lime Marinade for Seafood

Yogurt Tahini Marinade for Fish and Chicken

Pork Griots

Mediterranean Beef Kabob or Pot Roast

Mediterranean Lemon Chicken and Lamb

Caribbean Marinade



Umami Vegetarian Broth

Adobong Manok (Philippine Coconut Chicken Stew)

Aragon-Style Chicken Stew

Coconut Lime Soup with Chicken or Fish

Sopa de Lima (Mexican Chicken Soup with Lime)

Curried Chicken Stew


In Memoriam

Paying It Forward

About the Author


Of Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equality

And of Respect and Dignity

This wasn’t the book I was going to write two years ago. Four months ago, when I sent fledgling copy to the publisher, this still wasn’t the story. I overheard myself saying I was writing a nice little book.

Nice? Little? Where did that come from? What self-respecting adult minimizes her life’s hard work? Would a man do that?

My story is big and sloppy and a lot more interesting than little and nice. And it includes the Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum.

This is a tale of a quirky restaurant that enlivened mid-Michigan during the last quarter of the twentieth century. And it’s my story, which straddles the last half of the twentieth century.

A lot of changes went down over that time. Analog to digital, film to digital, female news and sports broadcasters, frozen and freeze dried foods, women in government, plastics, birth control, Title IX, black and white TV, women owning their own bank accounts, color TV, space walks, women’s professional sports, home computers, internet, women wearing trousers to work, the Cloud, social media, women presidents and prime ministers around the world (except in the United States), mobile phones. And already this list is outdated.

Twenty years into the twenty-first century, why am I writing this book? Now? After all, these are everyday recipes that can be found on the internet.

I spent most of my adult life in a hurry to be in the future, not taking time to look back. Running a mom-and-pop restaurant requires being very much in the present. Learning to do that was a gift, along with so many lessons I learned from my life with the Travelers Club. Working on this book for the last two years has demanded that I take the time to look back at my time with the restaurant, but also to own my prior and present life. I’m glad for it; now I’m ready to look ahead. I’m older; I have a lot more things to do and say. I’m old, I’m busy, get out of my way. A phrase I coined a few years ago.

That’s why.

The Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum was a wonderful microcosm of all things human. Good, bad, crazy, fearful, happy, grieving. It has been closed for seven years now, but it still holds the secrets and memories of so many of us who treated it like home.


The Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum was the creation of William White and myself. It was a labor of love and stress for both of us, surviving twenty years because we both committed to working seven days a week, twelve and more hours a day, for many years. As well as keeping the books, managing advertising, and marketing, William was a tireless and innovative carpenter, engineer, and maintenance man. He was also an excellent cook.

I set about to create a menu and recipes that could be accommodated with the small amount of equipment we had, while being the on-call dishwasher, cook, waitress, and employee supervisor.

Tastes and Tales is not a definitive history of Travelers Club. It is a prism of my memories and recipes. I claim limited accuracy of dates or specifics of events!

I left Michigan in 2002 to live with my mother after my father’s death. I continued to manage the specialty menus online, but in time relinquished all management to William, who kept the restaurant running for another ten years. The events, recipes, menus, and photos offered in Tastes and Tales all originated from 1982 to 2002.


This book is a collection of some of our favorite recipes, with memories unique to the Travelers Club.

Favorites become favorites because we and you, our customers, liked them a lot. Many entries that made up our permanent menu got there because we offered them temporarily and you asked that we keep them. Our Falafel, Peanut Stir Fry Sauce, and Cream of Tomato Soup were heroes of the Travelers Club.

We were a small restaurant, seating less than sixty, and our dining area was only one room. Our customers and staff became friends over time, swapping opinions and life’s wisdoms. Our menu and ambience represented much more than just the inspirations of one or two people. The Travelers Club is a composite of all who walked through our doors—their hearts, their minds, their opinions, and their children.

This cookbook, therefore, is more than recipes. It is a shared

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