It makes me proud when someone asks my advice on what restaurant they should go to or when someone in a restaurant asks what the good dishes are. On a recent trip to Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana, no fewer than three groups of people asked my advice. Of course a lot of that is because the owner, Jonathon, and his father, Pepe, greet me when I come in. That is just one of the rewards of being a frequent visitor and a passionate eater.
How do we keep our passion stoked though? And how do we expand our repertoire? Part of it is just driving around and seeing what we come across. Sometimes, though, we take the easy way out and let someone else do the legwork for us.
We recently picked up a copy of Southern Belly by John T. Edge, the head of the Southern Foodways Alliance. We are big fans of the SFA and the foodie films of Joe York, the SFA’s documentarian. When the Potlikker Film Festival was scheduled for St. Arnold’s Brewery in Houston, we jumped at a chance to watch movies, eat great food, and drink free beer.
As Homer (think Greece, not Springfield) said, the journey is its own reward. With big chunks of Texas and Louisiana and pretty much all of Mississippi ahead of us, we turned to John T. and Southern Belly for advice.
With help, we found massive fried flounder in a nostalgic setting in Jackson, Mississippi. We found oysters Rockefeller and a warm invitation back to fresh oyster season in Abbeville, Louisiana. In Coteau, Louisiana, we found pies that brought a dinner party to silent reverence. And finally, in Houston, we found ourselves receiving hugs as warm and satisfying as the Tex-Mex.
Over the next few days, as real life allows, we will tell you more. John T. has shared his stories about these places. We want to share ours. There are some folks and some places out there that are so great they deserve to have their stories told repeatedly.