This Spring some friends invited me to join them for a culinary tour of New Orleans. I was excited about eating in New Orleans, but my research for the trip got me thinking about the whole state of Louisiana and the rest of the South. After so many years of international travel, it was high time I got to know places closer to home. I decided to extend my visit into a road trip through Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.
Having spent most of my years on the East and West coasts, I thought of the South as the real America, somewhere I might find the real fried chicken, grits, biscuits, collard greens, bbq and other dishes that we call comfort foods -- the original versions rather than adaptations of these dishes brought to big cities by transplants or enterprising hipter gourmets.
Probably because I watched too many reruns of the Andy Griffiths show, I had a vague notion that I’d find sweet Aunt Bee cooking up some incredible fried chicken and baking pies at a roadside diner. I though I might get lucky and find some small town with interesting characters or befriend a fellow diner at lunch counter who would direct me some out of the way bbq shack. Another side of me feared being stopped on some backroad by a corrupt sherrif trying to ticket outsiders. Basically, I had no credible information and no real clue what to expect. Aware of my complete ignorance, I was ready for an adventure to enlighten myself about Southern culture and more importantly, eat some good food.
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