That good ol’ Southern cooking

We’d been planning our trip to Tennessee for awhile, ever since we knew what the date of my son’s college graduation would be. We had in mind several places we definitely wanted to visit – the Memphis Zoo (despite the irony of spending part of your vacation at the place you used to work), Graceland (TallGuy’s choice), and Great Smoky Mountains National Park – and more nebulous plans for other days. And we definitely had plans for some good eating.

The thing I’ve missed the most about Memphis is undoubtedly the food. We arrived in Memphis at around 7 PM on Sunday evening, and after getting our rental car and finding the hotel, the first place I took TallGuy was Back Yard Burgers, which don’t have a SoCal equal as far as I know, for either the burgers themselves or their terrific seasoned and waffle fries. My California-native, In-n-Out-loving husband (not that he’s wrong for that, of course) was quickly won over.

Monday evening, before the Memphis Redbirds game, we had dinner with one of my old friends at Memphis institution Huey’s, home of the best non-fast-food burgers in town, and that was also a winner, although TallGuy didn’t totally love their famous onion rings, since he prefers them on the skinny side.

Tuesday’s morning at Graceland whetted our appetites for a classic Southern plate lunch, so we headed for The Cupboard on Union Avenue. TallGuy had a very good grilled chicken breast – admittedly more Southern Californian than actual Southern, but then so is he – and I went for meatloaf, and each of us got three different veggies. “Veggies” tends to be the generic term for sides in the South, which has always amused me since it considers macaroni and cheese a vegetable. It was hard not to fill up on the yummy little cornbread muffins.

Tuesday evening it was time for Memphis’ renowned barbecue, and my favorite has always been Corky’s, where both of us went for the real thing, pulled pork shoulder – mine in a sandwich, his pulled and served with beans and coleslaw. TallGuy pronounced it the best barbecue he’s ever had (well, of course!), and I was very happy to introduce him to it.

We started east across the state on Wednesday, arriving in Knoxville in plenty of time for the graduation ceremony early Thursday morning. Along with First Husband and his Wife 2.0, we took the newly-minted graduate to lunch at Tomato Head, which was a very lively place with a wide-ranging casual menu and some awesome desserts (chocolate peanut butter pie, anyone?). TallGuy and I had my son to ourselves on Thursday evening for dinner at Sunspot, where he encouraged us to sample his grits with cheese sauce (good), and fresh-made sweet-potato chips (which both TallGuy and I really enjoyed, and neither of us is a big fan of sweet potatoes).

Not every meal was a total rave, of course – in Nashville on Saturday night, TallGuy learned that not all Tennessee barbecue is created equal, although he probably would have enjoyed Jack’s on Broadway just fine if he hadn’t had Corky’s first.

We’ve been back home a week now, and I’m still missing the food all over again. But I don’t miss the extra 30 pounds or so I weighed back when I lived there, and I’m glad that I don’t seem capable anymore of eating quite the same way I did then. I didn’t mind leaving food on my plate, I watched myself with the bread, and didn’t indulge too much in desserts (Tomato Head’s chocolate peanut butter pie and Corky’s apple cobbler were special cases and well worth it). I went to my first post-vacation Weight Watchers meeting yesterday morning, and was up two pounds from last month’s Lifetime Member weigh-in recording, which took me back out of my free-meeting range – it’s more than 2 pounds above my goal weight – but all things considered, wasn’t a bad outcome at all. This week I’m reintroducing myself to the online Points Tracker, though, since I really prefer to get my meetings without having to pay for them.

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