Ugghhh, you were in Mississippi. You got a pastrami sandwich? You expected Katz’z Deli? Ordering Pastrami in Kosciusko is like ordering a cheese steak in Tuscon. I am positive it came from a plastic pack.
While Jewish culture is a really large, and important part of the culture, part of the deal was assimilation foodwise. It was impossible to get what is thought of as traditional deli food so they made do with local favorites. In fact, my next door neighbor growing up was Jewish and she made ( I have mentioned this before) the best fried chicken, yeast rolls, and cheese straws I have ever had, before or since. I still use her recipe for dill pickles and her family runs one of the last drug store lunch counters I know about in the Delta (Aarron’s Pharmacy in Monroe, LA. Awesome burgers)
Anyone interested in Jewish culture in the South should go to Blockbuster and rent a copy of "Shalom, Ya’ll". A recently made documentary about this exact subject.
Did the Trace about two years ago and stopped in Kosciusko for lunch. A travel guide had suggested a B&B for lunch which was no longer serving lunch. The local visitor center recommended a cafe on the square which adjoined a gift shop. The food was very poor and pricey for what you got. I had a pastrami sandwich and the pastrami had obviously been taken from a super market pack. Only one small slice, not the usual pastrami sandwich you would expect from a good deli.
We’re so happy we stumbled upon this website (looking for a place to buy Lebanon Bologna, a comfort food from my childhood in Lancaster County, PA). You guys/gals are all so helpful, not only with the restaurant suggestions, but the books as well. We just came from our local bookstore & couldn’t find much, but will try Amazon. [:I]
McPhee is a great writer indeed. I would rank him as one of the best "how things work" writers around. I think the only thing I have ever read, besides individual articles, was one called Irons in the Fire. It wa a bunch of essays on various topics, the title referring to "Cattle Brand Inspectors in Nevada or Utah or somewhere. I has been a while and I can’t quite remember.
Another word of caution about travelling the trace; THEY DO STRICTLY ENFORCE THE SPEED LIMIT, and 54 in a 50 zone will get you written up.
Mayhaw Man, thanks for the tip on Rising Tide. I’ll be sure to take a look. As long as we are turning this into a bit of a book forum I would also suggest The Control of Nature by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1989)In this book is a chapter entitled Atchafalaya in which McPhee details the work the Corps of Engineers has done to control the Mississippi, the Red and the Atchafalaya. Of course, as we know, without that effort the guess is the New Orleans would either have been inundated long ago or on drier land a long way from the Mississippi which left to its own devices would cut a shorter channel to the Gulf bypassing the Crescent City completely.
BTW, I would recommend any of the numerous things McPhee has written. One of my all time favorite authors.
About Fat Mama’s in Natchez – while we kind of enjoyed the tiny place, we weren’t much impressed by the tamales. Pretty ordinary. We understand it’s owned by the same family that owns the barbecue place up the street (name forgotten), whose pulled pork had an unpleasant ashen taste, though the ribs were pretty good.
I would also like to suggest a little reading.
There is a book called Rising Tide written by a guy named John Barry. This is the single best book ever written on the history of the region you will be driving through. It is a great book, not a good one. I would reccomend it to anyone who has an interest in American history, Delta History, 19th and 20th political history, etc. It is a great read, as it reads more like a novel or a really well written newspaper article.
The basic subject is the history of the US government and the batle for control over the river and the regions around it, but it is much more than that. An excellent review of social history of the region is woven in and a fine description is included on the growth of towns like Memphis, Greenville, Natchez and New Orleans.
I have read a rediculous amount over the years on these subjects (and written a fair amount myself), but have never come across a book that ties it all together as this one does. It will greatly enhance any travel through Mississippi and the river region.
I agree with M&M on Vicksburg over Natchez. The houses in Natchez are nice, but I thought the battlefield at Vicksburg was fascinating. We stayed at the Duff Green Mansion in Vicksburg which was very cool because they let us bring our dog. The house is about 175 years old and was used as a hospital during the civil war. We got a real southern breakfast in the beautiful dining room.
If you continue up Highway 61 check out Doe’s Eat Place in Greenwood, MS for the steaks and tamales.
Mayhaw, delighted to hear of Hal and Mal’s. Did not know of it & had no idea that old depot was still there. Assumed it had been torn out with all that "renovation" (seemed mostly government buildings) of downtown Jackson. Surely been too long since I’ve driven through Jackson. Will definitely have to remedy that on next trip; maybe have to stay over to get in meals at Elite, George Street, Hal & Mal’s plus check on a few other older stomping grounds not right downtown.
Here are three places you may want to try although they don’t really fall into the roadfood category exactly. Four years ago M & I traveled the Trace from Jackson to Natchez or a meandering route from Memphis to New Orleans, most of which was done on Highway 61. In Lorman, Mississippi just outside of Natchez we stayed at a B&B named Canemount Plantation. We had a delicious dinner and a bountiful breakfast. And it was, how would you say, unique. On the afteroon of our arrival we got a jeep tour of the plantation grounds, which by the way run to 10,000 acres. We saw the Ruins of Windsor which is a burned down former plantation house. At the time it seemingly had some great historic significance but for the life of me I can’t remember what that was at the moment. We also saw a multitude of wild pigs. This was interesting as the female half of the B&B ownership hunted wild pigs for sport – wearing a full length mink coat and driving through the woods in a Mercedes 450SL. The B&B’s chef was imported from Mexico City. Seems this is a popular stopping spot for bicycle travelers on the Trace. I checked just now for web site and couldn’t find anything but the phone number we have in our travel log is 601-877-3784.
I agree with suggestion to visit Vicksburg. The battle field is worth the trip. I suggest eating at Cedar Grove Plantation. A bit upscale but wonderful food. click this link.http://www.cedargroveinn.com/dining.htm
We stayed at the Belle of the Bends B&B in Vicksburg and enjoyed it very much. Great breakfast.
Unfortunately we didn’t enjoy Natchez. The governor’s wife was touring Stanton Hall the day we were there and I suppose we didn’t fit in in our tourist clothes and felt hustled through rather quickly. But there are some beautiful houses there. Can’t say that we ate in Natchez as we were in a hurry to get to New Orleans.
You may want to get a copy of Traveling the Trace by Cathy and Vernon Summerlin (Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, 1995) for some good information on sites, eats and sleeps along the parkway.
While in Jackson, if you are looking for good food and good music you might want to try Hal and Mal’s. It is in an old railroad freight depot downtown (literally on top of the tunnell) and they have really good food (southern staples mainly) and feature live music (roots primarily) nightly. They also have small, but well built (I should know, I built it[;)]) brewery and serve a variety of beers. Haven’t been there in a while but the beer still gets good reports and the people that own it are some of the nicest you will ever want to meet.
If you are familiar with the "Sweet Potato Queens", this is where they came up with the idea. You will generally see an interesting mix of locals, lobbyists, and derelicts. I was in there one afternoon and there were two award winning writers having lunch at the same time (Willie Morris, Richard Ford).
I reccomend it.
Also, they have great tamales and the best "come back" dressing I have ever had.
Hillbilly, thanks for info. Surely glad to know that George Street is still in existence (or at least was last summer). I knew of their music, but with the long and crazy hours we were working, we never got to take in any music; were just happy to get there for some food. From what saw knew it was a great fun and music place, too, but just never got to experience tthose elements.
I traveled the Trace last year and there are no restaurants nearby–you have to get off and travel a bit. A good idea is to get carry out or pack a picnic because there are many lovely places along the way to stop. We found a great spot by the lake in Tishomingo State Park.
I concur on the Loveless (maybe they could pack you some fried chicken for your picnic) and want to add The Little Dooey barbecue in Starkville, MS. There are two of them in town–we went to the one on Highway 12. That was some of the best BBQ chicken I’ve ever had.
Also, it’s not technically on the Trace, but 60 miles north of Natchez is Vicksburg and you can’t miss the Walnut Hills Round Table (1214 Adams Street) for real Southern Cooking. You sit at a table with other guests and share passed plates of fried chicken, catfish, pork chops, sweet potatoes, mac n cheese, veggies–whatever’s on the menu that day. I think it was $10 for all you can eat–an incredible bargain.
And don’t miss the Mississippi Craft Center just northeast of Jackson. You’ll find some beautiful native artwork.
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