Of course, one expects to eat excellent fried chicken in Virginia. In and around Charlottesville, some of the best of it is served in the most unexpected places: national brand gas stations that, from the outside, appear to have no distinct personality whatever. Even when you step inside Brownsville Market, located in a Shell station, a quick look around suggests that the inventory of edibles is nothing other than typical convenience-mart fare. However, inhaling provides hope. The air is perfumed by the luxurious smell of frying chicken.
Straight ahead as you enter, beyond the cash register, is a small food service area where customers get takeaway sandwiches, pork chops, burgers, and moist-meat chicken sheathed in a crisp, butter-rich crust. There is nothing wild about this chicken; the seasoning is just-right salty with perhaps a hint of herbs, the oil in which it’s fried (peanut oil?) is fresh enough to make its flavor verge on health food.
There are all sorts of typical southern side dishes to accompany the chicken and an alternative entry that we’d never suggest getting instead of fried chicken, but which should be sampled by aficionados of mid-20th century home-ec cuisine: chicken broccoli casserole, gooped with plenty of cheese and soft noodles. It really is more old-style home cooking than modern-day restaurant cooking. Maybe you’d call it classic school cafeteria cooking.
Breakfast also is served.