This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

On The Road Again

We have actually almost completed our road trip through the southern states. However, I will be posting a series of blog entries about the trip in the upcoming days. This trip took us through parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and North and South Carolina.

Only one more state left to visit for Leslie and five more for me!

Our trip began with a flight from Seattle to Atlanta, Georgia which would be our starting and ending point on a big loop through the listed states.

The first imperssion stepping off the plan in Atlanta was, "Gee, it sure is hot!" The, "Gee, it sure is humid!" It was nearly as hot OR as humid as it would get before we were done. We headed into the city and found our way over to the rental car store where we picked up our Honda Civic, then drove over to our first stop--Mary Mac's.

We were basing our trip at least in part on the research of Michael and Jane Stern's Road Food blog. They have been researching the best places to eat around the U.S. for years focusing on those local or regional places that best exemplify the cuisine of a particular place and that often can not be found anywhere else. Many of the dishes served in these obscure eateries are becoming more and more rare against the background of the blaring cacophany of the chain restaurant signs in every town of any size across America. We as a country have little to blame but ourselves. The sign that a community is no longer a hick town but really has really arrived is when their first McDonald's comes to town or when Starbuck's has arrived.

These mega-corporate giants often spell the end for the mom and pop locally owned diner. They just can't compete with the mass marketing and that as persuaded generations of kids that McDonald's is THE place to go.

We are looking for that quickly disappearing place here and there across America where the small town diner, the local cuisine, is still being supported by locals who appreciate what they have to offer--perhaps a childhood memory and a desire to relive how things used to be done.

Jane and Michael Stern have found many of these places and as a result some have found fans from the four corners of America descending on their doorsteps. The attention some have received has made them a victim of their own success. Long-time dives have suddenly found themselves so popular they have been able to remodel and turn the old frumpy rundown dining room into a comfortable, updated establishment, losing their original charm. Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta is one such example. We were looking for a small restaurant with deep southern charm, a waitress with a beehive hairdo, pencil firmly tucked into it, an order pad flipped open and a "what can I do for you, hun." Where was the pink dress with white apron. Instead what we got was a very friendly, 20-something gay college student. We got a Marie Calendar interior motif and so-so food.

Our search continues. . .

Day 2 was spent at the World of Coca-Cola where you can stuff yourself silly with coca-cola products from all over the world. A silly series of interactive exhibits, photo ops with the Coca-Cola polar bear, videos and realia from over a century of Coca-Cola advertising were all on display.

We walked around the Centennial Olympic Park and visited the birth home of Martin Luther King, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Civil Rights museum on the park grounds. The grave sites of Dr. King and his wife Coretta was a moving spot though the beautiful flowing fountain normally running around the grave site was dry. I asked about it and the Foundation is currently taking bids to fix the leaking fountain.

Our next stop is Birmingham, Alabama and more on the Civil Rights movement.