Thursday, August 23, 2012

Food I shouldn't be eating

Ramblings Post #196 
Things in motion, and while there is motion I've been seriously slacking on the old diet. Now I still buy the watermelon slices and grapes, eat mostly chicken and drink that Crystal Light faithfully, but the gaping holes in my eating habits may be starting the catch up with me. And since I have yet to find my way the gym (it's over there somewhere), I need to get a grasp on this before it comes an issue.  In the past two weeks I've eaten two meals that might be considered noteworthy.

Last week I rode down in the middle of the week to see the folks.  There was a job interview too, but that's a whole different story. Anyhow, when I head that way,  there are a number of places the bring back the feeling of home, that strike that mental comfort trigger.  Oddly enough, all of them seem to involve food.  Places like the The Brown Derby. Earl Dukes BBQ. Biddie Banquet. The House of Pizza. But the one I have to go is the one and only Dairy - O.

In my little hometown, the Dairy - O is legendary. It is a little restaurant on the main drag, in a nondescript brown brick building. The interior is bereft of decoration, featuring maybe ten hard plastic booths and a counter where they serve food. And this is the upgrade. It used to be a even smaller nondescript roadside stand with no interior at all. That said, it is a bad habit of mine that whenever I slide back through the homestead, I stop in and get a burger, fries and the vanilla malted. Or at least a chili dog.

When I was younger, I worked in my father's dry cleaners which was just up the street, and on Saturday mornings I worked from 6am to 10am on the front counter. The Dairy - O was my late breakfast or early lunch spot, depending on how you look at it. A couple of sausage biscuits with mustard or a quick burger were the norm. The taste just brings back that feeling of home. It might be the only hamburger I can eat without putting fries on it.

The burger itself, when I think about, is an oddity. It most resembles the more well known Whataburger, as the sandwich isn't fluffed up but apparently cooked in a two sided press, which mashes the bread down firmly onto the meat. Same for the sausage biscuits. And the meat tastes odd as well. Not an all beef patty but one with obvious filler. Unless of course it is an all beef patty and everyone else has filler. Or meat from SC just tastes different. In any case, it's in my opinion ...a very good burger. And not just because it evokes in me a taste memory of my teenage years. 

If perchance you ever end up in my hometown...and are hungry...and want something good, you might want to swing by the Dairy - O. Good stuff.

I like to believe that meal was an aberration. After all, my mother, who stopped cooking regularly about 10 years ago because "she's tired, and we're grown" baked a chicken and made some green peas (no seasoning). So I ate properly for most of the time. And my car doesn't have that AC thing, so my pores were nice and open when I got back. So I vowed to continue eating better...again. Again. Unless of course, I was back in the homestead.

Which brings us to Curly's Fried Chicken.

I don't remember the first time I saw the spot. It is a walk up stand (how throwback ) on the now trendy end of Howell Mill Road in Atlanta, over by the spot where Spanky went on her furniture shopping spree that time. Across from the original Chow Baby, or at least where it used to be, I'm not sure, I just realized I didn't see the sign (but then I didn't really look either). It's in a little white building, with four parking slots up front and a large wooden sign and it is the antithesis of the upscale modern design of area, including the Spanish restaurant next door with the cool floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the supply yard.

But something about it said stop, it will be good. So, the other day I stopped. 

To say it was like being back in the homestead would be silly, but here I am. The smell of the fried chicken was ...different, not the factory smell you get from some places, but a aroma of spices that took me back not only to the homestead, but back to the small town where my grandmother lives. I don't know if its the spices, or a brine they might soak the chicken in or what, but that smell hit my sense memory like a hammer. I scanned the combos, which had the most ethnic names I've every seen, and I got a tender basket so I wouldn't waste too much if wasn't good. I thought it would be a off - brand Zaxby's or maybe even Guthrie's, but I was wrong.

The chicken tenders were large and tasty, with that dark brown hue from the breading all over that you expect from the larger chains because that's what the commercials tout, but never actually shows up in your order.  And they were cooked all the way through, not that extra greasy feel you get from some chicken places. To dip I got the house sauce, which was good although a little thin, but I'll have it again when I go. Now, if you make it over that way, get the Cajun Rice as one of your sides, because I don't think they realize there isn't supposed to be that much meat in dirty rice you don't make yourself.  It's a thick rice mix.  Now this was the small meal, not one of the larger combos, and it almost put me to sleep.

That used to mean a lot, just means there was a little bit more food that you would think.

Now, this doesn't mean that I'm going to give up the ghost or my Oak Hill shirts. I've found that although tasty, I feel better when what I eat is mostly the stuff off my old diet. They tricked me I tell you, they tricked me!

Oh, well. Barkeep. Since I'm eating what I shouldn't be eating, I'm going to drink what I shouldn't be drinking. Let me have a milkshake!

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