Traditional southern fare is my strong preference. The same foods we’ve had at church dinners and family reunions since the days of Dwight Eisenhower, still serve us well.
My wife, Jane, and I were in Thomasville recently for a three day visit with her family. They are also my family since 1974, even earlier if you count the dating years. Her nephew, Scott, graciously took a group of us out one night to an upscale restaurant. When I saw the menu, I was glad that Scott has plenty of work in his Atlanta law practice.
Several in the family have refined palates. They welcomed the European flavored offerings of a master chef. I don’t even eat broccoli, a plant which has, I believe, wrongfully sneaked into the channels of respectability in many southern kitchens.
We had a big meal earlier that day due to a family funeral. The folks at First Baptist Church of Thomasville include some wonderful cooks. After finishing a plate that was bountifully loaded, I then had two desserts. I was still pretty full that night. That turned out to be a blessing.
The restaurant had five or six dinner entrees, but the descriptions just didn’t tempt me. I figured the lamb might be okay, but then I remembered about Mary taking that little lamb to school one day. The thought of Mary having to tell those children to stop laughing and playing was too much. I couldn’t stomach that idea.
I decided to order just a salad and appetizer. The one salad that I thought might suit my simple taste buds was grilled Romaine lettuce. I’ve never grilled lettuce. I wasn’t even sure it was legal in Georgia. But I figured a bowl of grilled lettuce with some Thousand Island Dressing would be fine. A few Saltine Crackers and everything should work out.
They brought my grilled Romaine. It was just one leaf, one leaf of moderate size, with some kind of fancy brown dressing underneath and beside it. I was thinking that for ten dollars, there would be several leaves. Jane asked me not to say anything, nor ask for Thousand Island or Saltines.
I tend to eat too fast, and I knew that grilled lettuce leaf had to last about an hour. I would cut a tiny bit off the end, then work my fork around until I could get it to stay there. I would slide it through the brown dressing and chew it 32 times. I don’t remember ever having to swallow. That lettuce wasn’t bad, but spending all that time eating it pretty much wore me out.
For a backup plan, I had ordered a six-dollar appetizer of fried chicken skins. I asked the nice young lady to bring them and the salad as my meal. I was thinking that chicken skins must be really thin strips of chicken, something like potato skins that still have a bit of potato attached. I overthought that one.
I didn’t see chicken on the menu, just skins. I wanted to ask what they did with the rest of the chicken. I thought they might fry me up a wing or a leg, anything that I could recognize. I wasn’t even sure where these skins came from. For all I knew, they could have been the part that flew over the fence last. I’ve heard that’s a delicacy in Europe. That may help explain why we started our own country.
Jane asked me to please not inquire about the chicken. She’s been in the family longer than I have, so I figured it was her call. I quietly chewed my chicken skins, while silently planning my next day’s outing to The Billiard Academy. I visualized two chili dogs, all the way, with a small bottle of ice cold Coca Cola. I knew it would cost me five dollars and fifty cents, but I don’t mind paying for fine dining.