Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Homer simpson and steak

Growing up on Virginia's Eastern Shore, my father attended a little Methodist Church that for about 120 years has held an annual 4th of July seafood dinner. It's the church's primary fundraiser for the year and attracts people from a pretty wide area, including many former residents and members like my father.

Every summer I drive down to VA for the holiday and we always end up making the pilgrimage back to the church to enjoy some of the best seafood I've ever had. Of course, it's all you can eat, which is an incredible proposition when one is in the presence of limitless crabcakes, oyster and clam fritters, fried chicken, and groaning tables of side dishes. Each year as I pile my plate high with all of that fried seafood bounty, my mother always asks, "Brian, don't you want some of the other things?" . . . the other things being cornbread, salad, dinner rolls, mac'n'cheese, baked beans, and a table full of desserts. Whenever she asks that, I'm reminded of the great "Simpsons" episode in which Homer, having just started a steak-eating contest, is admonished by Marge, "Don't fill up on bread." That's the way I feel every year on July 4th.

"Brian, don't fill up on bread," is sage advice if one has a choice between ordinary dinner fare and crab cakes. Obviously I love those other things. To be honest, I never met a starch I didn't like. But dinner rolls or macaroni versus seafood is no contest. Perhaps the only thing that could make me cut back on the crab cakes on this occasion would be another southern favorite - deep-fried biscuits. Haven't heard of them? Take a can of regular Pillsbury biscuits, fire up the "Fry Daddy" and drop each biscuit in the boiling oil for a few seconds until it's golden brown. Now I do consider myself a hush-puppy connoisseur; it's hard-wired into one's southern gastronomic DNA. But in a contest with fried biscuits, hush-puppies just don't stand a chance. At this point I'm salivating like Homer Simpson . . . and waiting eagerly for July 4th. I'll report on the experience during my 8-day "red state" adventure.

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