When you’re driving around town, you don’t likely pay any attention to the towering Cracker Barrel sign on Transit Road which is a beacon to weary travelers everywhere.
It says “civilization ahead” or at least “someone who knows how to make really good biscuits ahead!”
I have logged several thousand miles the past few weeks and I’m not home yet. I’ll be climbing back into the car on Sunday with a cooler packed with things we did not eat but did not have the heart to throw away.
Why did I buy four pounds of ricotta for manicotti to serve eight people? Why? Because I’m not home, that’s why.
But, I’m going to tell you a deep dark secret. I wish, just once, my mom would forget to boil eggs and pack proper portion yogurt. She has the spoons wrapped individually and always remembers a garbage bag to dispose of our empties. I wish the cooler was mistakenly packed behind the big suitcase, not to see the light of day until we get home.
I just want to stop at one of those breakfast-all-day places that are all along the highways.
I would never think to stop at the Cracker Barrel at home especially because I do not find myself often on Transit Road at breakfast time. Also, we have such great breakfast places Below the Falls there is no need to drift.
But, when you are in the car, many miles from home that familiar sign is like a billboard advertising an oasis!
While I’m telling secrets, I’ll share another with you. I like grits. I really like them. Grits are like cream of wheat with an attitude. Grits are a mystery food for northerners like sweet tea. Trust me, they are not kidding when they say sweet. Real southern sweet tea is so sweet it can make your head snap back as if there was a shot of bourbon snuck in. Oh wait, maybe that was bourbon.
My trip south (99 percent of the time when I drive below Virginia I am heading to South Florida) is not complete without a serving of grits at the Cracker Barrel. When they bring the biscuits to the table with real butter I swear I think I tear up. Good biscuits transcend food for me. They become almost a religious experience.
For years, I’ve passed the Waffle House and never stopped. Last week, I made the drive with my son. He’s a bit more adventurous than my mother. Well, he is actually totally more adventurous than my mom.
The Waffle House has never fit my mother’s idea of a place to stop. My son and I wanted to sit and eat but not take a lot of time. He had heard of the Waffle House and several of my coaches swear by it. We stopped at one somewhere on I-95 in South Carolina. He had waffles and bacon. The portion was not huge, but very filling. He really enjoyed it.
I got cheese-n-eggs with raisin toast and grits. I loved the eggs because they reminded me of the eggs my mother used to make when I was a kid. I think she scrambled the eggs with a little bit of Velveeta cheese (I think it has to be called cheese product now).
They were really good. Raisin toast is a family staple and another throwback to childhood. The grits were great and the portions generous, especially for less than $4. And, in a really clutch move, we asked for our last cup of coffee in a roadie and they brought us two fresh cups of really good coffee for the road. Deal!
I am climbing back into my car on Sunday and I think I am going to pack the cooler in the back of the trunk!
Have a yummy week.