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February 25, 2003

Next stop, Hooverville Ate barbecue

Next stop, Hooverville

Ate barbecue for dinner tonight, slow-cooked at the little restaurant just up the road from us, Lewis's. I worry about them, and try to go there at least once a month. It's obviously a family owned place, probably run by a guy who spent 20 years cooking at one of the more established places in the area, likely Allen & Son's or Bullocks, before striking out on his own. I've driven past it during what should have been the height of the dinner rush, and seen only a couple of cars, or none.

That doesn't mean that he's suffering. Most of the restaurants within 5 miles of our house do 80% of their business feeding the hordes that RTP disgorges at lunch, and places that serve far worse food than Mr. Lewis stay in business quite easily. Some of them just close for good at 2, and don't even bother with the dinner crowd.

Lewis's has been there for over a year now, so they're probably doing fine. I don't know that for sure, being as I am 20 miles and 45 minutes away come noon, so Ngnat and I go in now and again and order takeout. Combo plate for me, barbecue plate for the Sainted wife, and extra hushpuppies. Ngnat gets the first fruits from each of the styrofoam containers once we get home, and prefers barbecue and hushpuppies above all other food. We've taken to given her tiny, tiny portions of each, so that when the inevitable requests for seconds, thirds and fourths come in we have some vegetable leverage.

"More? Babakoo?"

"Eat three green beans and I'll give you some more barbecue, hon."

"Husspuppee?"

"Eat some corn...."

Ok.

And she eats some corn, or three beans and half a new potato, and gazes in greasy delight at the new forkful of pig on her plate before she vacuums it up.

Tonight she noticed my ribs. Not my personal ribs, of course. Even assuming I dined naked, which I haven't done since the Night Of The Unfortunate Fondue, they're not exactly Ethiopianically protuberant. She noticed my glazed and honeyed pork ribs. What Wilbur would have been without the damned busybody spider.

Good Pig.

"Wassat, Daddy?"

"It's a rib, honey. You want some?"

"Uh-huh."

This was unexpected, as her reaction to new foods normally causes a garlic/vampire metaphor to rear its cliched and hoary head, but this time the shiny gobbets of meat must have overcome her normal antipathy to the unknown. She stopped chewing only to say "More?" until I said the hell with it and handed her a rib of her own, one with a last few shreds of meat hanging off it, greasy and glistening with sauce.

Genetics will out. She immediately popped it in her mouth and treated it like a lollipop, at which the Sainted Wife took umbrage.

"Don't teach her to suck the bone."

I'm sad to say it was all I could do to keep the sweet tea from coming out of my nose. The wife gazed at me serenely, refusing to acknowledge that anything at all might be amiss, funny, or entendred in the least. I considered several responses, but under the gaze of that bland and dangerous countenance decided that perhaps, just this one time, discretion was the better part of valor.

"Why not?"

"It's so.....thirties." This from a woman whose parents weren't even born during the Depression, whose grandparents were growing up in the coal industry swank that was Bluefield, West Virginia in the 30's.

I guess this means that I shan't be passing on my hard won knowledge of how to crack chicken legs and extract the sweet dark marrow with a splinter of bone.* I think that's a pretty good indication of the difference in growing up with just one sister, as opposed to one sister and two other brothers, both of whom would steal the bare bone of a chicken leg off an unattended plate if Dad didn't get it first.

He grew up in Mississippi in the Depression, with 10 siblings. He's a man who knows the value of marrow.**


*The ends of a fried chicken leg are soft and can be chewed off. This leaves a piece of bone about the size of a pen, where most of the marrow is found. The bone has a ridge that runs down one side. Bite down a couple of times on each end of the chicken bone at a 90 degree angle to this ridge. This should shatter the bone, and create plenty of sharp bone splinters that you can use to scrape the marrow out with.

Once you are done, the same bone splinters make handy toothpicks.

**Yes, I married up. My wife's family is from West Virginia, and I increased my relative social class by marrying into it. I have to say I have never seen them use chicken bone splinters as toothpicks.

Posted by Bigwig at February 25, 2003 11:44 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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