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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Way Down South – Food on My Trip Home AKA My Journey to Adult Onset Diabetes

I’ve been absent for a while and Margaret has been beating me with the posts, but I really don’t think I can write more than a few words about Morningstar Grillers Chik-n on a bagel thin, and since that’s constituted many of my recent meals, I was short on content. But don’t worry, I took a trip to the South last weekend and there was no shortage of yummy bites to recount.

When I go home, there is one place I always have to go: McAllister’s Deli. It’s a chain located only in the Southeast. Back in college, it was the go-to place for a “nicer” meal than fast food and it was local so everyone loved it. McAllister’s has changed their menu in recent years to sort of upgrade their offerings. I don’t necessarily think this was a good thing, since their menu was pretty stellar before. I mean, they offer a sandwich called “The Big Nasty.” The BN is an open-faced sandwich covered in roast beef, cheese, gravy, and of course, to make sure you eat your veggies, green onions. Doesn’t that turn you on? The other thing they are known for is their sweet tea. People buy gallons of the stuff for tailgating. You can’t beat it. So what did I eat? Well, I wasn’t feeling woman enough to mount a Big Nasty, so I went to my standard French Dip. Mmmm, it never lets me down. Hoagie roll slightly toasted, piles of roast beef, a little bit of cheese, and a big steaming bowl of au jus. Gah, I’m salivating just now. Why won’t they move up north?? They usually serve the sandwiches with the best Kosher dill pickle you’ll find and your choice of side. I go with the plain potato chips. Now, I give you the McAllister’s French Dip with a sweet tea on the side…..

Can you see that monstrosity in the back? Let me show you what my sister ate. McAllister’s serves sandwiches, salads, wraps, and several variations on the baked potato. My sister ordered the pot roast potato. Follow me here, giant baked potato, pot roast with carrots and MORE potatoes and a god-awful amount of gravy. And what do they serve on the side, just in case you need a little more flavor??? BUTTER!! I mean, where are you going to put the butter? On the gravy? Well, being the South, you’ll probably just eat it on its own as a side dish. Peep a look at this.

Not very appetizing, huh? Well, despite its ugly duck appearance, it’s damn tasty.

For my next meal, my dad cooked a typical downhome meal. Simple, fresh ingredients. We had smoked pork loin and fresh vegetable. There was corn, freshly picked from our family’s garden and creamed by hand. Zipper peas, which are my absolute favorite, but I only get them at home. Zippers are a variety of cream crowders. Don’t know what they are? Go South and discover! And, of course, the always-present white butterbeans. We also enjoyed freshly sliced tomatoes from my dad’s garden. The smokiness of the pork was perfectly matched with the sweetness of the corn. The peas and beans were slightly sweet as well, but went great with the acid of the tomatoes.

Not so bad, huh? We can eat healthy food in the south. I'm not going to tell you that the butterbeans and peas were cooked with bacon or that the creamed corn had a small amount of butter. No, I'm not going to tell you that...

And from slightly healthy to the most horrible-you’re-going-to-judge-me thing I could ever eat. Are you ready for it? Heard of Hardee’s? No? You might have heard of Carl’s Jr. Hardee’s is the southern branch of the chain. I had to go shopping for my mom before our family shrimp boil and it provided me with the perfect opportunity to swing through the drive thru for breakfast. When going to Hardee’s for breakfast, there is only one thing I order---the chicken biscuit. Good lord, it’s great. Granted, they’ve changed the recipe a few times since I was a kid, but it’s still basically the same. Homemade buttermilk biscuit gently cradling a giant boneless chicken breast. This thing is all that’s right about America…and maybe a bit of what’s wrong. It’s obesity on a biscuit. It’s glorious and you will not make me feel guilty about my choices. And look, you can eat it while driving!

Now, after all that, I’m going to eat some celery.

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