Road Trip July 2002

In which two New Yorkers, rattled by life in the city, traveled by car through the south and Texas for 30 days, and discovered how generous the heart of America is. We praise the people, the optimism, the humor, the energy, and the barbecued ribs of America the Beautiful.

The roads we took led us from the What-a-Burger in Sweetwater, Texas to the Lot-a-Burger in Memphis, Tennessee; From the Union cemetery in Vicksburg, to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis; From McClard’s BBQ in Hot Springs to Loris Snetchums wedding in Jackson, Mississippi; From Elvis’ parent’s bedroom in Graceland to Donald Judd’s aluminum boxes in Marfa, Texas.

Other roads led from Thomas Edison to Eudora Welty; Frank Lloyd Wright to Martin Luther King; Werner von Braun to Gertrude Stein; Renzo Piano to Abraham Lincoln; LBJ to B.B. King.


But really, you ask. What did we eat?

We ate biscuits: Biscuits and ham, biscuits and jam, biscuits and gravy, and grits whipped with cream cheese, grits au gratin, and just plain grits with everything. Pecan waffles, sweet potato pancakes, Johnny cakes, and hot cakes with syrup.

We ate Barbecue at Pop’s, at Petty’s, and Bar-B-Cutie. Dreamland, Goode’s in Houston, McClard’s in Hot Springs, and Interstate in Memphis. Delicious drippy wet ribs, spicy dry style ribs, and brisket with plenty of sauce and plenty of white bread to mop up the sauce. We had slaws galores, and we drank giant iced teas with every meal.

We ate spicy fried chicken at Boo’s in Nashville. It came with a side of sweet hot pickles as a “cool down.” We had fried Vidalia onion rings, hush puppies, okra, and fried pickles. We had beans with pork, and beans with fat, and jambalayas, gumbos, crawfish omelettes and just crawfish served on newspapers. We had crab etouffe, and boudin sausage po’ boys. We ate a muffeletta. We had catfish fried, we had it stuffed, we had it in a pecan crust topped with crabmeat and crawfish. We put tabasco sauce on everything, and hot vinegar with banana peppers on a few things. And we ate a bag of boiled peanuts because we thought it needed to be done. It didn’t.

We had roasted corn on a stick, huevos rancheros, wonderful fragrant hot tamales that burned our fingers, brisket burritos, y fajitas con pico de gallo. We chewed the fat on big Black Angus steaks and spooned down Texas chili. We ate a “What-a-Burger. We stopped for a “Lot-a-burger.” We drank Lone Stars and cherry phosphates and a lot of root beer, In Tuscaloosa, we drank vanilla malteds, and once, when the temperature reached 109 in Archer City, we sheltered in the Dairy Queen and had chocolate Blizzards.

We had an incredible whiskey pudding with bread sauce, or rather bread pudding with whisky sauce at the Bon Ton in don ton New Orleans. We had tall pie, key lime pie, pecan pie, peach pie, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, and ripe juicy peaches. At the Camillia Cafe we had the world’s very best BEST banana cream pie. We munched on Goo Goo Clusters, and pralines, We bought doughnuts at Daddy’s, and donuts at Poopsie’s, and we had the sugary beignets and coffee with chicory at Cafe du Monde. And Wayne made his amazing shortbread in Nashville. And we had breakfast with two real Texas Rangers, which was something else.

And that’s enough.