Needless to say, I ate well on my recent trip to Georgia and South Carolina. I’ll put up two posts on the comestibles, with the first covering down-home Southern cooking and the second the fancier food I had in Charleston.
Met at the airport at Atlanta, I was immediately taken to the Barbecue Kitchen of College Park, where I had the BBQ plate. What you see here is pulled pork (pulled in shreds off the cooked pig) with the requisite three sides (“meat and three” as it’s called everywhere): creamed corn, collard greens (my favorite), and squash casserole. One of the glories of Southern cooking is the variety of vegetables: one often has a choice of a dozen or more. You of course get to choose your sides, and in this restaurant you can have free refills of veg. Sweet iced tea (also refilled ad lib) is on the side, along with a basket of biscuits, cornbread, and jalapeño cornbread muffins (click to enlarge):
Boiled peanuts are also a staple in the Deep South: they’re usually sold, hot and freshly boiled, on the roadside, and are raw peanuts that have been boiled for hours in water and other spices. I love them, for they taste not like nuts but like the legumes they are. But I’ve never seen them in cans, as they were proffered on the counter of the Barbecue Kitchen. I didn’t buy any, for I was waiting for the real thing:
Right before my talk in Augusta the next day, we ate at a restaurant called Due South in Peachtree City, outside Atlanta. It’s an upscale Southern place, and it was hard to choose between ribs and the shrimp-and-grits. I opted for the ribs, knowing I could get shrimp and grits in South Carolina.
Ribs before (with fries and hot-pepper coleslaw):
Another Southern specialty: fried chicken and waffles with peach compote and blackberry syrup. Although the dish sounds unappetizing to the uninitiated, it’s quite good, for the syrup and compote add a delightful frisson of sweetness to the chicken:
The day after the talk I was taken to Warm Springs Georgia, home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “southern White House” for an outing. More on that site later, but one of the objects was also to eat at The Bulloch House Restaurant, a famous eating place in the area situated in an old southern home. It’s known for its southern-food buffet. Many buffets are dire, but this one was constantly replenished with freshly-cooked home-style food, most delectably the famous fried chicken and country ham.
The menu: the list of dishes greets you as you enter (click to enlarge):
The buffet: fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, roast beef and gravy, real mashed potatoes, greens, butter beans, country ham, and so on (this is only half of it).
The largesse: my plate (the first one). There’s fried chicken, candied sweet potatoes, collard greens, chicken and dumplings, a corn muffin, fried green tomatoes, fried applies, creamed corn and, of course, sweet iced tea (the table wine of the South, VERY sweet). Further helpings of fried chicken followed. Note: I never said this food was healthy, and I don’t eat this way all the time, so food fascists please refrain from criticism!
And weren’t we lucky to find a boiled peanut stand just a block from the restaurant? One of my hosts in Atlanta, Denise, is in attendance:
The product, boiled overnight:
The drive from Atlanta to Augusta passed another famous place: Connie’s Country Kitchen, formerly known as Mamie’s Biscuits, in Conyers, Georgia. There, for only about $1.50, you can obtain the apotheosis of country snacks (and a great breakfast treat): the ham biscuit. It’s a homemade biscuit enfolding a salty and chewy slice of cured country ham. The softness and sweetness of the biscuit are a perfect foil for the resilient chaw of the ham:
A last BBQ meal before my talk in Augusta, this time at Mot’s Barbecue. Chopped pork BBQ, “hash” (a meaty sauce) over rice, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese (the latter is considered a “vegetable” throughout the south), and sweet tea. The “bread” (a toasted hamburger bun) was unforunate. One needs cornbread or, preferably biscuits as a breadstuff here. Nevertheless, this was just the ticket before tackling religion! (The sugar in that sweet tea gives me the requisite energy.)
That ends the BBQ; I had some in South Carolina as well but didn’t photograph it. I did, however, have more upscale Southern food, and more on that tomorrow.