It’s quite interesting how people’s tastes evolve, isn’t it? In the people they enjoy being around, the activities they enjoy, and even their actual tastes.
Maybe I was brainwashed. Maybe I was showing out. Or maybe I actually did enjoy it. But things have changed.
I still do love a good fancy meal now and again, but it doesn’t do to me what it once did. It’s not the food. The food is usually quite nice. I just don’t know that I need the pretension or exclusivity in my life any more. I don’t really know what that provides.
The food still has to be good. That is a must. But otherwise, let the experience be interesting. Inclusive. Comfortable. A place where a long beard and long hair and a cowboy hat will not turn heads, but be welcomed with open arms.
So I must introduce you to four meals over a 36 hour span recently that, quite honestly, would rival anywhere in the world.
The region is the Deep South, USA, and the first place is called Donanelle’s. Or is it Don and Nellie’s? Or does it matter? It has no website. No nothing really. Except cold beer and absurdly good ribeyes and ribs that come covered with a raw onion and jalapeño pepper. The walls are covered in dollar bills, it seats fifty-ish, and if you don’t know it is there, you will never find it.
Moving south, the next stop was along the bayous that spit into the Gulf of Mexico. Called The Tiki, you could imagine it in Key West or Hawaii. Again, no frills, just fresh seafood served while you might be able to see the boats that actually caught them. The daily special was the royal reds, shrimp that are a little bigger and sweeter than the norm, that melt in your mouth along with the warm butter they are served with.
Would I even need to eat again that day? Well, if dinner was at The World Famous Shed, you damn right I would. Nestled in the shadows of I-10 is a place that is indescribable. It is multiple buildings pieced together over the years, a gravel parking lot, and a confusion over whether you are sitting inside, outside, or some combination of the two. Where there is no confusion is in the taste of the BBQ and its accompanying sauce, so good it has won numerous awards and likely sits in a grocery store near you.
(One of the interesting byproducts of owning your time and doing more of exactly what you want to do is that mundane things go away, exciting things can become normal, and it takes something special to really move the needle. The Shed is special. I truly love that place. I felt my heart flutter as the car pulled onto that gravel lot.)
I thought I was done, but I wasn’t. New Orleans, one of my homes away from home, was on the horizon, and I had a hankering for a po’boy. Enter Domilise’s, 100 years old and literally sitting smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Apparently, everyone and their brother has been there, but not me. (I’m not sure about my brother.) Fried oysters get me in some kind of mood, so that would be my base. But I would need to drop the mayonnaise (gross) in favor of what…gravy, hot sauce, spicy mustard, and pickles! I was in love!
One of my most desired traits in anything is that it must be interesting. People, places, art, clothes…and of course, food. So many things these days just aren’t. So I seek it out. The different, the unique, the original. It will do something to you. Entertain you at a minimum. Teach you something. Maybe more. I just know that on the occasion that I feel my heart flutter, it must be good.
Have a great week.-Benj
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