Adventures in Travel

Those of you have gotten a glance at robust physique know that I enjoy food. It's not the shoveling of food down my throat that I dig it is the background of the food that I am eating. I enjoy the simple contrasts on a plate, the detail that can be achieved adding or removing a certain ingredient but most all I love the story it tells.

You can sit down at a table and enjoy a meal and learn about the cook/chef’s background. You can tell how much of themselves they put on the plate or how much they care about their craft. You tell about their nature, are they detail-oriented or impulsive and broad-ranged. But even more you can get a feel of the history.

Whenever I visit a city I try very hard not to eat at any "chains". Those of you who know me, know that I do in fact work for one of these chain restaurants (I don't name it to protect the innocent so please don't blurt it out). I don't have a problem with chains. Chains are great at an everyday meal but if you are visiting someplace new and different there is no way to truly experience the city or country unless you eat where the locals eat.

I have written about the writing of Anthony Bourdain and others who have written about their adventures in eating. I am currently reading, "It Must've Been Something I Ate" by lawyer and Vogue columnist, Jeffrey Steingarten. It is the stories that I am more drawn to.

Yes I can sit at a table and have a foodgasm by some really great fois gras or caramelized onions or a great steak or whatever is in front of me but it is the stories of the people that interest me.

Being in Jackson, Mississippi was no exception. Before traveling I researched where the best food in town was. I had printouts from Google Maps and I was ready. The first day in town I asked the locals, "Where do you like to eat?", when they responded with a chain that I could get here in Orlando, I asked it in a different way, "If you could choose one restaurant that best describes Jackson, which one would it be?" I would then beat them with a hammer if they named another chain.

So far I knew I wanted to visit Peaches, which was supposed to be the best soul food in Jackson and Sweet Daddy's BBQ for the best que in town.

One of the first days in town my buddy Mike was telling me about a place called Hamil's located just outside of town. "This is real southern food,” he said. We drove a little ways and came up to an old log cabin. This looked great already. Once I stepped inside I was surrounded by the smells and feelings of home. It was a small little place with a lot of customers. There was a nice spread of a buffet to the left of the door. You just picked up a plate and went to town. There was standard southern fair; buttermilk fried chicken, creamy homemade mashed potatoes, slaws and salads of many varieties and green beans that gave Paula Dean a run for her money. The ribs were smoky and good while the rolls... oh baby the rolls. I got in a conversation with the lady taking the money from everyone. ($7.00... can't beat it) she told me about her family and the business itself. After pondering which tea I wanted since one urn said "Sweet" and the other was labeled "SWEET" in larger bolder letters, I found a table. I'm not sure that there was a difference between the teas. I would just like to think so.

After sitting, eating and watching I started to listen to what life in Jackson was like. There was a table of 5 where a mother and father were taking their kids out for lunch. Two police officers giving advice to the teenaged waitress who had been assigned a court date to deal with her speeding tickets. After pleading with them to help her get out of it she recommended the homemade ice cream even though they said there was nothing they could do.

After listening to her I decided to get some of the banana pudding that was calling my name with a small cup of the homemade ice cream. Both were great but my mouth is watering right now at the thought of that ice cream.

To be concluded....

Hamil's Barbeque - 751 Highway 51 - Madison, MS 39110 - (601) 856-4407


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