Friday, January 9, 2009

I Have Seen the Promise Land... Billy the Kid

The Commissary

Billy The Kid

Talking about eating BBQ and the thought of this trip has been dominating our conversations and overwhelming our brains, but finally the meetings and reading were over. The door slammed and we were off with the blessing of our families and friends. I was happy Memphis would be our first stop where our palettes would be the purest and most receptive to this savory southern tradition. Memphis is a city I have never been to before and I was excited to see the origin of blues and the banks of the longest river in the states. The most boring drive known to man was slowed down by our enormous turtle shell on top of the roof to hold our luggage, with windy conditions the turtle hindered us going faster than 60 mph. This seemingly only heightened the anticipation in the car and the tension felt palpable as we imagined diving head first into not only the BBQ but also the entire culture in Memphis. The commissary came highly recommended by our native Memphian who also served as our host and tour guide, Wes guided us to the joint as we parked a wave of silence came over the car. First we didn’t exactly know how to react no one moved or said a word as we stared at the restaurant. The sun was hitting it just right and it almost had a glow I imagined Moses would have seen a similar scene gazing into the promise land. I felt similar only I was going to actually get into the promise land and gorge myself on such delicatessens like BBQ chips and coleslaw. Each of us had put hours of work into this project and many more hours thinking about this moment when we enter our first restaurant. Captain popped open the supply kit containing our supplies. Notebooks in hand and pens at the ready we were prepared like a runner right before the gun shooting off to start the New York marathon. Crossing a lonely road like a pack of ducklings following our mother (Captain) we entered the tiny restaurant.

The Commissary was opened as a general store serving as a resting place for those passing through town as well as supplying the locals with food or hardware supplies. This feeling was apparent as the walls were decorated with antiques that felt authentic as opposed to Friday’s where they throw anything on the wall that appears to be old and trendy. Our enthusiasm was hardly controllable as we spit our orders in some form of mumbling to the patient waitress. I didn’t know until later that at our FIRST BBQ restaurant Blinky ordered grilled chicken sandwich. I know the Pope mentioned this in his list of the seven sins and it had been committed on our first day! I quietly prayed to the High Hog asking for forgiveness of Blinky and his confused stomach. I didn’t know if I should ride in the car with him for fear of being struck down and turned into ribs by the High Hog himself. My spirits were lifted as our meal had been clearly blessed. The meat could have been eaten without any sauce on the sandwich. I ordered it Memphis style with coleslaw on top of the meat. I put a little sauce on the pork and it immediately enveloped my mouth with a smoky taste followed by a hint of brown sugar. The pork sandwich was good enough to put me on my first BBQ high of the trip. My mood became relaxed and I sat back and soaked in my surroundings. The small area forced us to sit close to each other and really talk amongst ourselves. I imagined a busy lunch crowd crammed in like sardines but not minding at all because the pork will make the work day behind the desk that much more bearable. The first visit could not have been better; was concluded by a banana pudding shared by all of us. On my first bite it was like I sunk the battleship with my first guess…I pulled up my spoon and there was an entire chunk of banana waiting to please my stomach. I decided one could not be luckier hands behind my head my face gave the group the only approval needed, a smile of satisfaction.


Adrian said...

Wow!!! I am from Birmingham too and I too am a bbq fanatic. Try Shane's Rib Shack or Jim N Nicks for some of the best. yes i know they are chains, but they do it logo design

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eff, Jason Cochran here. I don't know where you are planning on going in South Carolina but Greenville has one great place that I love called Henry's smokehouse on Wade Hampton, near downtown Greenvilleglass dining table

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