Saturday, October 02, 2010

Peter's Travels: 2010: What I Brought Back From My Trip To Alabama

For consumption during my morning commute to work a while back (9/14/2010), I made the ultimate breakfast sandwich. Those of you who are either squeamish, excessively health-conscious or snobbish may need to skip the next few paragraphs to avoid the unpleasantness they will contain. [Those of you who readily tire of my long-winded attention to detail definitely should pass over them...or the whole thing... or just go to hell; you go to hell and you die!]

Mrs. Peter and I hadn't been grocery shopping recently, so when I went to make breakfast that day the pickings were slim. I found part of a red onion, pepper jack cheese slices and Farm House cage-free brown eggs in the refrigerator; in the freezer I found Steak-ums; on the counter were two end slices of a loaf of hearty whole wheat bread. I took a bottle of EVOO and the pepper grinder out of the cabinet above the stove, then I got two frying pans from the little storage area beneath the stove.

First I caramelized an eighth of a cup of red onion in olive oil in the big frying pan and set them aside. Then I scrambled the eggs and put them in the small frying pan on medium-low heat. I put the bread in the toaster on 9. I put two Steak-ums in the big frying pan, ground some pepper on them, then cooked them on medium-high for a minute or so. I dumped the onions into the eggs, then transferred them to the big frying pan to finish cooking. When the toast popped up, I put two slices of pepper jack on one of the pieces, then I stacked the eggs and Steak-ums and the other piece of toast. What made it the ultimate breakfast sandwich was two teaspoons of special ingredient.

The special ingredient comprises several secret ingredients. I can guess what some of them are, but I prefer that they remain a mystery to me. The special ingredient was Doogie Pigford's World's Best Barbecue Sauce (patent pending). My wife and I found the sauce through Divine Providence (or sheer dumb luck, if you must see it that way). We were on our way home from a long weekend in Alabama, where we had gone to visit friends in mourning. We were southwest-bound on I-20, just outside Mississippi, when the baby woke up hungry and crying. The first exit we came to was highway 80, just inside Mississippi. There was a small truck stop , the only gas station at that exit; we were more or less at the mercy of the proprietor.

The sign (pictured above) read, "Thanking y'all for 20 years of business;" the pumps were definitely original equipment. Because there was no way to pay at the pump, I had to go inside and give the cashier (who was smoking a cigarette behind the counter) a forty-dollar deposit. I went out, pumped twenty-some dollars worth of gas, parked the car, then went back in to get my change.

The smell of the food sizzling on the grill overwhelmed the stench of tobacco smoke; I was hooked. I went back to the car and asked Mrs. Peter if she'd like to get a bite to eat. Fortunately she assented. She finished feeding the baby, I got our older son out of his seat, and we all went inside. We were taken aback by the decor and ambiance: trophy bucks on the wall; ashtrays on the tables; gambling machines (For entertainment purposes only...) on the floor; FOX News on the flat screen; truckers on task wolfing down their half-pound hamburgers. Clearly this was the place for us...

We ordered our food and soaked in our surroundings. Mrs. Peter took the pictures I've included here. Her pulled pork sandwich came with the barbecue sauce on the side; I could tell right away that we had stumbled onto something special. While her reaction was not quite on the order of the diner (Katz Deli) scene from "When Harry Met Sally," she was obviously in a state of culinary ecstasy. She gave me a bite to make me jealous; I almost regretted getting the burger (another sign had claimed, rightly, that you couldn't get a better homemade burger..). There were no signs bragging about the sweet tea, but it was as good as any I've ever had.

After we ate and went out to the car, Mrs. Peter went back in to take another picture and to smoke with the cashier. That's when she met the owner. She asked him if he sold the barbecue sauce separately; he replied that a lot of people ask him that. She asked him if he'd sell her some; they agreed on a price and he filled a thirty-two ounce styrofoam cup with the sauce. He told her that he had killed all the bucks and the boar and the antelope; they exchanged other pleasantries, then she came out with the loot.

While eating that breakfast sandwich en route to work the other morning, I thought about how glad I was that we had taken the trip. It was good to see and console our friends; it really helped me put things in perspective. Our friend had just lost her husband; her daughter had lost her father; she's only twenty years old. I am mourning the deaths of my parents, but I had the good fortune of having them both around for over forty-two years. I remembered how we almost lost my dad to an aneurysm when I was about fifteen, how my mother had forgiven him outright for the wrong he'd done her, and how she had helped him recover from his stroke and stood with him for the next twenty-seven years.

I had witnessed and experienced true love at its finest, purest and noblest.

Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn't you wait for me?
Buttercup: Well... you were dead.
Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

My mama has set the bar pretty high.


denesebramblette said...

We so enjoyed the visit. Arthur got out of the hospital on Thursday. Seems to be some better, but very weak. He was one sick guy...really scared the stuff out of me for a few days. Looks like he will be ok, if he follows doctors orders to a T.

I will get your pictures in the mail on Monday. God willing and some other shit doesn't hit the fan.

Metal Mark said...

Little out of the way places tend to have the best food. The best meatball sub I ever had in my life was at the bus station in Knoxville, Tennessee like 15 years ago. Not that this has much to do with anything, but thought I'd share.

Peter said...

Metal Mark: Whenever we travel, we almost never settle for fast food or chain restaurants (unless we have a taste for one of them). It's the best way to sample the "local flavor." One of my hopes when I made that post was that it might spur people's memories. Thank you for sharing yours. (Next month might find me passing through Knoxville; if so, I hope they still make a good meatball sub there...)