Blog, Travel

The finer things in life

cheese grits

What makes your mouth water? I’m so thankful that God provided for me to fly to Valdosta, GA this past week for my sister Maria’s college graduation. I told Maria before I came that while I was there, one of the must-do’s was eating fried fish!

I was born and raised in the south, then moved to Missouri and have lived here for over 20 years. I consider Missouri my home now.  But I  miss southern cooking, something I never really learned how to master (due to disliking too much time in the kitchen!). This might be a good thing, considering that nearly everything is deep fried!

My father Leland and his girlfriend Sandra used to have fish fries on weekends for us kids – talk about GOOD!  I was determined to taste fried fish and cheese grits again on this trip.

On the Saturday night of Maria’s graduation, she, her kids and I went out to eat at Ray’s MillPond (original restaurant there since 1950’s)…and we had a southern feast of fried catfish, cheese grits, hushpuppies, cole slaw, french fries, pickles…and alligator! Low-fat, low-sodium, low-carb it was not – but oh, it was delicious!

The restaurant offers interesting choices like gator tail, clam clowder, sweet potato slices, deviled crab dinner, Nile perch, raw oysters, and a “swamp combo” – a combination of catfish and gator.

Maria was in her element. She could eat fried fish every single day. What a great way to celebrate her big accomplishment!   Here she is at the restaurant – isn’t she beautiful?

My sis Maria

My nephew Nicholas wanted a plateful of the alligator. As the saying goes, fried alligator tastes like chicken…only sort of rubbery. Yes, I ate it and yes, it was good! Nicholas enjoyed every bite of it.

Nicholas was astounded that where I live, people don’t eat good old southern cooking every day. I explained that while Missouri has fried fish, it just doesn’t taste the same.

And the only cheese grits I’ve ever seen since I moved here are the ones which come in packages in the grocery store, like the sugary oatmeal.

My nephew Nicholas

As we enjoyed the meal together, Nicholas poked fun at me for not eating fish the “right way,” explaining, “Aunt Beth, we don’t eat fish with a fork! You just pick it up with your fingers and dig in. This is Georgia!” LOL. We both laughed.

I loved listening to the waitress talk with her southern drawl. “Dew yew want butter or cheese with yore grits?” she asked me.

“Want some more sweet tay (tea)?” she asked my sister.

Her deep accent was music to my soul.

I have missed hearing southern drawls since moving to Missouri. I have lived in the mid-west for over 20 years, and I still have a southern accent. I still say “y’all” and “I’m fixin’ to go to the store.”

Other than the Bible, Gone With The Wind is my favorite book (and movie) of all time and Scarlett O’Hara was my heroine growing up.

My sister says you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl. 🙂

Fried catfish, cheese grits, and hushpuppies. These truly are the finer things in life!

Look for more stories about my trip to Georgia this week.

the fried alligator I ate at Ray's Millpond restaurant on my trip to Valdosta, GA






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