Back in 2005, I was deeply involved in searching for the best BBQ in America and had heard Owensboro, KY mentioned several times. What got that town mentioned so often was it is in Davis County in Western Kentucky and when the locals say BBQ they’re often referring to mutton or mature sheep.
I did a little research and learned that the soil and terrain of that area are well suited for raising sheep and the people who settled it came from parts of Europe that were heavy into raising and eating sheep. Well before this I had learned that BBQ is a somewhat regional thing. In Texas it’s beef. In Western North Carolina it’s pork shoulders while in the Eastern part of the state it’s the whole hog. Memphis is ribs and Columbia, SC is fresh ham.
Texas has brisket, the Carolinas have whole hog, and Lousiana has crawfish. They are famous for these regional foods and people from all over the world come to partake. So, what does Ohio have? I’ve often asked that question and finally decided, well hell, we have Cincinnati chili and it’s unlike chili anyplace else in America, maybe the world! It’s unique, it’s flavorful, and it comes five-ways, which is something Texas doesn’t give you with brisket.
In January of 2012, my brother Joe and his wife Ruby, Elzia and Carol Hicks, and my wife Janet and I spent a couple of days in New Orleans before embarking on a seven-day Caribbean cruise. Of all the places we ate the one we liked best was a legendary chicken joint called Willie Mae’s Scotch House in the Treme neighborhood.
Have you ever seen a photo of a baobab tree? I first saw them in a college textbook about South African History and they are
magnificent. They sort of look like a tree turned upside down with its roots in the air and its foliage buried in the ground. To see one makes it hard to forget one.
Last winter my wife and I watched a police series that was filmed in Australia and something resembling baobab trees were a regular part of outdoor shots. After a little research, I discovered that there is only
In the early 1980s, my sister in law’s parents began letting my family and me stay at their Atlantic Beach, NC cottage for a week each year. On our first trip, we discovered Wilber’s BBQ in Goldsboro, NC and to this day it has remained the standard by which we have come to measure pulled pork. Over the years none of us have ever driven along Highway 70 and not stopped at Wilber’s going and coming. Often we would stop just to bring home bottles of his famous vinegar-based sauce and several frozen pounds of his whole-hog hickory-smoked delight.
My old friend Bobby Everhart and I took a quick 4-day run to Emerald Isle, NC for some pier fishing. Early October, in a normal year, would have been a perfect time for catching coolers of spots and sea mullets, both great food fish.
However, these are not normal years and the air temps were in the high 80s and the water temps near summer norms. The result was, we went, we fished, we caught a few dinks, we ate good restaurant seafood, we did a little sightseeing, and we had a wonderful time retelling old stories and making a couple of new ones.
I don’t know how long it’s been since any of you have been down these roads but here’s your chance to see what things look like today.
I was headed to the Amish surplus food store on Duff Road and like so often, I opted for the more scenic and less traveled backroads.
This trip began at the west edge of Greenfield and proceeded to Centerfield Road, Bridges Road, SR 771, Small Road, and finally, Duff Road.
By the way, if you’re looking for a great way to stretch your food budget you may want to visit the Dent & Bent on Duff Road. They have an ever-changing inventory of foods that are nearing their “best used by” dates. They’re open daily except for Thursday and Sunday.
Back in 2005, I decided I’d like to judge a BBQ contest so I did a little research and discovered I’d have to take a class through either the Kansas City BBQ Society or the Memphis BBQ Network. I decided on Memphis because it was closer and I’d heard more about the Memphis in May events which included a huge BBQ festival and competition.
So, off to Memphis went I and after the training session, I decided to meander through the Delta for several days. I’d been there before but always with family and always on a schedule. I was retired now and my time was my own.
There was a time in the American South when juke joints were to be found at every dirt road crossing. Sometimes they were ramshackle houses or abandoned commercial buildings but often, they were small buildings assembled from whatever could be found. Rough cut boards, disassembled shipping crates, and rusting metal roofing were common.
Inside these places could be found fried catfish, smoked pork, cold beer, corn liquor and a couple of guys with cheap instruments pounding out the rhythms that we know today as the blues. If there wasn’t live music there’d be a jukebox playing records and thus the name, juke joints.
Sometime back in the ’70s or ’80s Dale Wilson and his son Kenny were building pickup trucks based on real-life semi-tractor trucks. I can’t recall now if they were full size of miniatures.
Anyway, in 2015 my grandson and I were in Clarksdale, MS at a blues festival and just happened across this full-sized monster that had been made into a pickup truck. Called the Blues Man it was driving around in a city appropriate for its name.
Hopefully, it will jog some memories and some of you may have some photos of Dale and Kenny’s creations to share with the group.
Back in the 1970s, I took my junior high school class to Mound City Group in Chillicothe. Even though I drive past the main site several times a year I haven’t stopped until just a few days ago. I had thrown my back out so I didn’t venture beyond the visitor center area but I got enough pictures and a short video to give one some idea of what is to be found there.
Going back to 2001 Sebastian Inlet along Florida’s East Coast has been a favorite saltwater fishing destination for me. It is arguably the best fishing locales in the Eastern United States.
The inlet connects the waters of the Atlantic with the waters of the very large Indian River. It is a very narrow man-made inlet and with every tide change, large numbers of sea creatures move back and forth between the sound and the ocean.
Maybe you saw a video on the news of the recent grasshopper invasion of Las Vegas (see below). Back in the 1960s, I had the fortune, good or otherwise, of experiencing such a thing in person. I can’t remember if it was grasshoppers or crickets but, as I learned later, such infestations are not uncommon in America’s West.
I was coming back to Ohio from California and had stopped for the night in a cheap motel in either Texas or Oklahoma. The entrance to my room had an actual screen door on it and when I had packed and was ready to leave I opened the main door and the screen door was alive with crawling insects. I literally held my breath long enough to run for the car and in doing so several hundred made it into the passenger compartment with me.
Some years ago we woke to find ourselves in the midst of a growing population of old-order Mennonites and Amish folks. The Mennonites arrived first and located around the Rainsboro and Bainbridge areas. The Amish began arriving maybe fifteen years later and settled in the area between Petersburg and Leesburg. I don’t know about the growth of the Mennonite community but the Amish community has experienced amazing growth and it continues to expand.
The basis of their economies remains agriculture but many have side businesses to supplement their farm incomes. Seeing this as a draw for tourism I started a website called the AME Trail (Amish-Mennonite-English)and it features the many small businesses these community members have started. Unfortunately, I have not kept the site current but it still presents a good idea of what all can be found.
One of the earliest Mennonite and Amish settlements in South Central Ohio was atop Wheat Ridge in Adams County. The area has developed into a major tourist draw for urban populations in the area with the biggest attractions being Miller’s Grocery, Bakery, Furniture, and all things store on Wheat Ridge Rd. Maybe the next biggest is the Murphin Ridge Inn and Restaurant on Murphine Ridge Rd. It’s on the pricy side but proves that if you know how to cook, “they will come.”