We’re 2 hours and 23 minutes from home sweet home. First stop, East 6th street, where I’ll be dropped off. Then, on to 44 Wildey Road, where Doug will finally put this vehicle to rest. I feel at once exhausted, fulfilled, and excited to be back. I was just recalling our first day of true adventure, in Smithfield, Virginia, where I spotted my first cotton field, and learned about curing and cooking that salty country ham that we’ve since come to love along side our biscuits. That day seems like months ago. Our minds have been so over-saturated with new information and visuals in the past three weeks that time seems to have warped. It feels as though a long time has passed, yet the days themselves seemed to fly by. We’ve compiled a list of stats to give you an overall sense of what kind of expenditure and consumption has occurred during the trip. Most startling for me was the 73 hours spent in the car, while in motion. I’m so ready to get out of this car and spend some time using public transportation again. Of those 73 hours, a frightening majority were spent on nondescript commercially cluttered highways, each one a clone of the last. I was actually shocked to discover that the majority of this country has become so commercialized that were you to blind fold me and drop me at the outskirts of any one of the amazing places we visited, I would honestly be unable to tell you in which state I had landed. The “strip” changed only as drastically as replacing a few Taco Bells with Waffles Houses, and Dunkin’ Donuts with Krispy Kremes from the time we left New York. We were hard pressed to find anything even remotely healthy last night as we cruised down the interstate. Chain after chain of cheap, Americanized fried food clutters this country. It is truly frightening to consider how hard one must work to eat anything unique or healthy while traveling the many super highways of America.
Thankfully, our trip permitted us to see beyond that obstacle course and find the places that are rooted in tradition and history, and whose owners take an immense amount of pride in running them. It was beautiful to bear witness to that sense of ownership in places that are undeniably “low brow” and learn that being deeply passionate and committed to your craft is the key to a fulfilling career, regardless of the sophistication of the cuisine. So we’re leaving you with a few necessary lists and stats to wrap up the road trip. Thank you all for coming for the ride. And Steve Jobs—You are the MAN. We couldn’t have done it without you. Now bring on the vegetables!
Things We’ll Miss: -the Southern Hospitality attitude: nowhere have I encountered such friendly, open and generous people. We’ve gotten more free food, desserts, barbecue sauces and snacks for the road than we deserved. The abundance of biscuits: I told you and I’ll say it again, no one makes biscuits this well up north - the excuse that we’re on an educational food-centric road trip to permit us to eat whatever and whenever we want, no further explanation necessary - the no bullshit 180 degree turn from the world I have subscribed to in the past and will re-enter in a few days—from a culinary perspective of course. I went from fine dining to low brow road food. A valuable juxtaposition. The thrill of discovery and never knowing what we’ll fall into next. There’s a certain adrenaline rush you get when the unknown pops up before you. - church. Full Gospel Baptist church.
Things We Look Forward To: -the New York Times: so many ludicrous news stories have emerged over the past three weeks we’re dying for a reliable source. -Asian food: I can’t wait to get after some Asian flavor profiles again to reawaken my palate. -The option to eat healthily if for some unlikely reason we felt the urge. No, but seriously, I’ve never been more deprived of vegetables and their nutrients. Al dente, or for that matter raw vegetables, sound awesome right now. -coffee: the rest of this country just doesn’t need strong coffee like we do. Weak sauce everywhere we went. Except for Austin. -a varied diet. -getting back in the kitchen: I haven’t handled food from the other side in weeks. I need to cook again.
BEST OF BBQ 2011: According to Mol & Doug: Brisket: Louie Mueller, TX—Sausage: Smitty’s, TX—Pork Ribs: Smitty’s, TX—Chopped Pork: Lexington Barbecue & Allen and Sons, NC—Sauce, Tomato Based: The Green Mesquite, TX—Fried Chicken: Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, TN—Pork Skin Sandwich: Lexington Barbecue, NC—Biscuits: Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, NC—Sausage Gravy: Loveless Cafe, TN—Bourbon and Sweet Tea: Felix’s Fish Camp, AL—Chess Pie: Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, TN— Banana Pudding: Maurice’s Piggie Park, SC—Potato Chips: Central BBQ, TN—Donut: Gordough’s, TX—Hash: Maurice’s Piggie Park, SC—Salad: Hooter’s, TX
THE STATS: BBQ joints: 31. Biscuits consumed: 21. States traveled: 16. Miles traveled: 4258. Hours Driving: 73. Gas Fill-Ups 19. Lost items: 3. Automotive Breakdowns: 0. Emotional Breakdowns: 1. Arguments: 0. iPad data consumption: 3 GB. Pics: 1656. Words: 14,258. Funsies: Unlimited.