Yesterday I wrote about a day spent in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, the day after Christmas. It was mostly about food and drinks because, frankly, we do a lot of eating down there. (How else do you think we’ve gotten top honors for fattest state in the country 10 years running?)
Of course, there’s a lot more to Jackson than food. For example, did you know Jackson is the only capital or major city in the US built on top of an extinct volcano? Have you heard about the two-headed snake at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science? Surely you know about Mississippi’s historic and still active music scene, or sites from the Civil Rights Movement like the Medgar Evers House.
Those things are all great and worth checking out, but I didn’t actually get around to them on this trip, so you’re going to be stuck reading about more food–poor you!
For lunch on Monday, we went to Lou’s Full-Serv, a newish restaurant in the Belhaven neighborhood, kind of between downtown and the Fondren neighborhood I mentioned yesterday. This was actually a scouting trip–my and Mr. Kim’s parents actually haven’t met yet, and my sister suggested Lou’s as a good place for the first meeting. (As an aside, I’m so lucky that they are openminded and willing to forgo many traditions for the sake of my family, like the tradition of meeting and judging your partner’s family; as I wrote before, all they want me to do is to try to go to church!)
Lou’s has some pretty traditional Southern food and also some twists on traditional dishes. We started with the breadless crab cake, which were better than the usual crab cake because it was pretty much just crab and flavorful things, with no… bread.
I had one of the twist-y dishes, mostly because I could tell Mr. Kim wanted to try it: a brisket grilled cheese, with onion rings as a side.
It was good, but I probably should have ordered a different side or a different main, because it was an incredibly heavy meal when combined with the onion rings (which were some of the best I’ve had–perfectly fried, not too thick or thin, just crunchy enough). By the way, onion rings aren’t listed with the other sides, but they are interchangeable with the fries and salads.
My mom had one of the burgers, which featured candied bacon and I don’t know what else.
I actually don’t remember which burger this was, but I can testify that it was incredibly delicious because Mr. Kim and I ate half of it the next day and it was incredibly delicious even then.
Our Tuesday lunch was at a restaurant that has already become Mr. Kim’s favorite place in Jackson: Two Sisters Kitchen. This is a Southern-style buffet that serves fried chicken every day with sides that change a little from day to day and a different other main or two on other days. Before, I’d only taken Mr. Kim on Fridays, when the other mains are a chicken poppyseed casserole (if I recall correctly) and the most delicious fried catfish I’ve had. On Tuesday, the other mains were red beans with cajun beef sausage and baked chicken with barbecue sauce, although I just stuck to the fried chicken myself.
This food is always amazing and the epitome of Southern food. In fact, it is so delicious and so Southern that I had assumed that most of the dishes included pork. Jaymin’s best man doesn’t eat pork, though, so as we left, I asked the woman at the register which dishes were pork free. Her answer: “Honey, there’s no pork in my house.” Apparently, they use turkey fat instead–amazing!
For about $13 plus tip, you get as many trips to the buffet as you can handle, iced tea (or maybe coffee) and dessert. The options are generally bread pudding, apple crisp, peach cobbler, or–my usual choice–banana pudding:
The third meal today is Saltine in Fondren. Saltine is an oyster bar, and since here in the Midwest, we don’t get that much fresh seafood, we had to visit. In fact, the food is pretty good. First, we ordered six oysters–it was oyster happy hour (4-7 daily), when you can get select oysters for $1 each.
Unfortunately, because of tornadoes and other storms that had ravaged the South around Christmas, there were only Gulf oysters, but we were okay with that.
In addition to the raw oysters, we ordered the Nashville Hot Oysters–seriously spicy but fried well and very satisfying to those of us who love spicy food. As you can see, the oysters are fried, then served on white bread with pickles and hot sauce–I guess modeled after Nashville hot chicken.
We also had one of my favorite foods ever, a fried oyster po’boy.
This was an excellent specimen–in fact, the best I’ve had in the long years since I was last able to visit Oby’s, a fixture in my college town and home of the most holy and fattening combination of fried oyster po’boy, waffle fries and endless refills of sweet tea. (If you click the link beware the terrible music that starts automatically.)
However–Mr. Kim and I will probably not be visiting Saltine again–unless maybe just for the oyster happy hour–because the service was appalling. After I ordered a beer (the satisfying and driver-appropriate Pub Ale from Jackson’s own Lucky Town Brewing), the waitress didn’t return for a solid 20 minutes. When she finally did show up, asking us offhandedly if we wanted to order food, she didn’t even apologize for her lateness until she picked up on the annoyance in my face; even then, she said they were short on staff, but as it’s not a big restaurant and was still pretty empty, I could tell that she was serving only one other couple and also that she hadn’t even been in the dining area the entire time we’d been waiting. The service was actually not great the other times I’ve been to Saltine, either, so it seems like there might be something in their management style or work culture that could use a little tweaking. But anyway, the food is good, and Mississippi/Gulf Coast-style seafood–especially oysters–are a must-try if you head down that way!
So–food. Tomorrow, I’ll move on to a few other Mississippi attractions, and also, well, some very unattractive things about Mississippi.