Welcome to Memphis Y’all.


I just returned from a trip to the most Canadian place in America. Only friendlier and with a lot more shot glasses for sale. Memphis, Tennessee even looked like Canada. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but once we got off the plane and were heading to the hotel, everywhere I looked seemed just like Ontario, Canada. The buildings, plants and trees were all the same. Everyone said thank you, you’re welcome and I’m so sorry every chance they got. The only difference between someone from Canada and someone from Memphis is the person from Memphis apologizes with a southern drawl while wiping away some breakfast BBQ sauce from their cheeks.

Memphis, home to Elvis, BBQ and deep fried everything.

Bless their hearts.

Not one to miss an authentic food opportunity I enlisted the help of my southern readers and a professional BBQing acquaintance to help me decide where we should eat over our 4 days in Memphis. I got a lot of suggestions and after cross referencing with Google I decided that the two must hit spots were The Rendezvous and Gus’s.  I was hoping to get Central BBQ in as well or Corky’s but we didn’t make it.




The Rendezvous was recommended by everyone except my professional BBQing friend, who is on Team Canada’s BBQing team.  He said the ribs there were good, just not what they once were.  ( He’s the one I got the beautiful, glazed smoker I use to make bacon and ribs in my backyard from. )  He’s also the one who taught me most of what I know about smoking ribs (along with another professional, competitive BBQer, DivaQ).  So I was curious about what the ribs were going to be like.




Their smoked beans were absolutely fantastic, and the ribs were really good, but they weren’t great.  I don’t know how it’s even possible, but I didn’t see any smoke ring on the ribs and they were a tiny bit dry.  For anywhere else they would have been great ribs, but for a place that’s made it’s name as the GO TO place for ribs, they could have impressed me more.  I’m sorry.  Like I said, the beans were really great though and I’m going to smoke a pot of my own in the near future.




In a bizarre twist of fate the restaurant right across from our hotel was the Kooky Canuck.  A restaurant owned by Montrealer Shawn Danko specializing in Canadian food and specifically fantastic hamburgers.  We ate there at around noon and by 9 p.m. we all decided we’d just forget about having dinner that night because we were still full.  Of meat.  We were all still full of meat.  I’m still full of meat.  In my belly at this moment there is meat.

Which is why the morning after the meat belly we ate this.



In this photo from top left: eggs, grits, biscuits, corner of oatmeal bowl, sausage gravy.

The beige breakfast.  Let’s talk about the beige shall we?  Beige would imply boring.  Bland.  Blech.  But in this case beige is BISCUITS!!!!  I’ll tell you I have NEVER had a biscuit  like a southern biscuit.  It was SO unbelievably delicious I can’t even talk about it.  I’ve been silenced by a biscuit.  Feel free southern readers to take this opportunity to give me your biscuit recipe.  I almost feel like this one was made with Bisquick. Is that possible?

From there we did some touristy stuff that I can’t remember because it didn’t involve food.  After doing those things I don’t remember we headed to B.B. Kings for some dinner.




The great thing about eating at B.B. Kings on the world famous Beale Street is you can go upstairs to eat and look right down on at the band playing downstairs.




There I had to get catfish because when in Memphis …  This will come as a shock to you but the catfish bites were deep fried.  And came with a dipping sauce that was actually a BBQ sauce in disguise.  Again, weirdly.  By this point in the trip I could not possibly eat another bit of deep fried food so for dinner that night I ate a blackened chicken caesar salad, which isn’t worthy of a photo when you’re posting about the food of Memphis.  It’s an embarrassment really.  I’m so ashamed.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last in terms of our food tour of Memphis.  Every SINGLE one of us agreed this was the best meal we had on our trip.  It was in a slightly dodgy area of Memphis where the cab driver dropping us off told us to stay safe and keep away from any dark portions of the street when we were walking home.  In broad daylight.  What was it that had us venturing out to the south side of Beale?



At Gus’s you’re asked if you’d like chicken or chicken.  After a bit of bickering we went with the chicken.  The spicy, crispy, as hot as condensate chicken, comes with a serving of coleslaw and beans for about $7.  I also ordered a side of mac & cheese because again … when in Memphis.




This trip was proving to be a real workout for all my coronary related parts.  Memphis food … exercise for your arteries.

Not wanting to end on a healthy note, we left Memphis with this Southern classic that I had not only never tried, but had never heard of until someone commented about it on my blog a few years ago.




Chess Pie.  Chess pie is a custard pie made with eggs, butter, sugar (often brown), vanilla and … cornmeal.  That’s a cornmeal crust on top of that pie that you see.  The cornmeal is mixed in with the rest of the ingredients but apparently magically floats to the top of the pie while baking, forming a crust.  I was quite surprised to see it didn’t come with a side of BBQ sauce, but I’m sure we could have got one from the waitress without so much as a raised eyebrow.

Bless her heart.

We managed to waddle our way around to a few sites in between wiping grease from our face and grits from our laps.  We went to all the typical spots like Beale Street which had an alarmingly large police presence and people drinking out of buckets.  I’ve not experienced drinking out of a bucket but I do see the practicality of having a bucket handy right after you’ve consumed a bucket of alcohol.




Beale Street is hugely historically significant not only for Memphis but for the rest of the world in terms of music.  The street was originally created in 1841. By the 1860’s black travelling musicians started to perform on Beale Street and by the early 1900’s African Americans turned Beale Street into the birthplace of the Blues as we know it today.  (the history of the Blues is way more complex than that, but that’s the story in a nutshell)  Today the almost 2 mile long street is closed off every night to cars and bar after bar after bar offers live music, most of it revolving around the Blues.





Walking along the sidewalk you’ll find musical notes in honour of all the greats that played on Beale including one of my favourites R.L. Burnside. Even if you don’t think you like the Blues (whaaa???) you might like this album “Come on In”, a remix version of R.L. Burnside’s songs done by music producer Tom Rothrock.  Or, like one reviewer of the album says, it might make you puke.

Which won’t be much of a problem if you have your drinking bucket handy.

Another historical site we visited was the Lorraine Motel. The place where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  The motel is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.  That seems fitting, right?  We thought so.  And then we talked to Jackie.



Jacqueline Smith can be found outside the Lorraine motel on any given day, protesting the closing of the motel and turning it into a museum courtesy of an 8 million dollar renovation in 1988.  You see, after King was assassinated, the motel started to decline.  The rooms were changed from regular motel rooms to single occupancy rooms.  Housing for the poor.  Jackie worked at the motel and was also a resident.  She lived at the Lorraine for 15 years from 1973 to 1988 and refused to leave when they shut it down to turn it into a museum.  For 50 days Jackie stayed in the motel until she was finally forcibly removed.  Everyone else went quietly.  Jackie did not.



You can read a great article about her protest here  but the short version is, Jackie believes the museum isn’t in keeping with what King would have wanted.  What he stood for.  His philosophy.  She believes the motel should be used to help the poor, to educate them and house them among other things.  Her point is that Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have approved of the cost of the project or the eviction of the poor and powerless from the motel to turn it into a museum. He wouldn’t have approved of the gentrification of the neighbourhood and the loss of the affordable housing in the area.

We met Jackie as we were walking to the motel to tour the museum.  We didn’t go in.  Even though we were all really interested in the museum and what it might have offered, after talking to Jackie we all just kept walking past the doors.

This post just took a serious turn didn’t it?

I can fix that.




Please enjoy Betty in a chicken mask. One of the many interesting things we found in Memphis.




I came very, very, surprisingly close to purchasing this artifact necklace.  The carving is an antique encased in a massive locket on a chain with turquoise beads.  It was wearable art that I would have put on display when I wasn’t wearing it but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.  How much you ask?  Almost as much as the entire trip cost.




Stock and Belle is  one of the stores we all loved.  It was a combination grocery, salon, vintage clothing and furniture store with a lot of original art pieces thrown in. I’ve honestly never been anywhere like it.  Everything was really, really well priced, especially the original art like these robot pieces.




And thanks to a couple of readers including Jenny, we learned there was a Southern Junkers event going on in town!  The only thing my family likes more than junk is foreign junk.

It was a laneway filled with junk, repurposed junk, better than junk junk and more junk.  In a bit of a fluke we ran into Ruth, the organizer of the event in her booth and when we told her we were there from Canada she grabbed her camera, told us to smile, then screamed THEY’RE HERE FROM CANADA!

Ruth was kind enough to give me a Junk Drunk tshirt, which were for sale in her booth which you’ll be seeing on me in future posts I’m sure.




Walking into the very first booth, I knew this was my kind of place.  The ReNewed Intent booth was like home for me.  Scary for someone else I’m sure but like a warm hug for me.




I bought a piece of ironstone at the sale; a platter. I only have 700 ironstone platters, so it was very important that I buy another one.  But I think my favourite thing at the show was this handmade dresser from The Junkin’ Jones Gang.  It’s a family business and the dresser was designed and made from wood and old dresser drawers by the father, Gene Jones.

I think it was only around $450 which was a great price and if I could have figured out a way to get it home I would have.  I would have put it in my front hall and stared at it all day while listening to my arteries.

It would have been great.





After the junkers market we headed to America’s largest (I’m totally making that up but I cannot imagine it isn’t true) Bass Pro Shop.  But we didn’t go because of the Bass Pro Shop, we went because it’s housed in a GIANT pyramid in downtown Memphis with a restaurant on top.



It was at said restaurant that Betty got carded.  The poor waitress had to ask her 10 times to see some I.D.  Betty just kept laughing and laughing until I finally told her I think the waitress is serious.  Betty stopped for a second, looked blankly at me, then kept laughing and laughing.

Turns out it’s the state law.  If you order a drink, no matter HOW old you look, no matter what, you have to present I.D. And by the way, just LOOK at the smile on that waitress. That’s another thing.  People in the south smile a LOT.  Every single person we encountered was insanely nice.

In fact the only unlikeable person we met the whole trip was (ironically) a Canadian who was acting like a douchebag in the duty free shop on the way home.



I posted this picture of all of us at the top of the Bass Pro Shop and an astute reader let me know that behind and below us, isn’t the Mississippi as I said, but the Wolf River.    Betty bought the retro cat eye glasses at the Junkers Market by the way.

The other highlight of the trip was the tour of Sun Studios.  The birthplace of Rock and Roll.  You can learn all about it here on Wikipedia or at the Sun Studio site.



Sun Studio really is where Rock and Roll was invented by producer and label owner Sam Phillips. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and my personal favourite, Johnny Cash all came to you through Sun Studio.




Even the coffee bar where you wait to go through the tour is cool, tended by cool people. Including our tour guide Lahna (who isn’t in the photo) who is a musician herself, part of the band Deering and Down.




And this place right here?  This is the studio.  This is the actual spot where Elvis first sung into a professional microphone with his band. Yeah.  Elvis was the lead singer of a band.  An unassuming little room that changed the world.

It’s at this point I was going to show you pictures of our trip to Graceland.  But it’s now almost midnight and my post is supposed to be published in 2 minutes.  Sorry about that.  No photos of Graceland for you.  Not today anyway.

If I can fit time in between making biscuits, listening to the blues and convincing Betty she doesn’t actually look 21 I’ll have a Graceland post up for you tomorrow.

Pfttt.  21.  Bless her heart.



  1. Jinanne says:

    Memphis is my hometown. What a fantastic city…..years ago. Not now. Yes, there’s plenty of history and southern charm, not to mention a plethora of food joints and restaurants. Unfortunately, it is for the most part unsafe. I have stories. Personal stories. They aren’t pretty. Sure, take a spin, but BEWARE….as with most cities you need to know your territory before venturing, and stay in groups. (P.S….Nashville is a beautiful and fascinating southern charmer, my long-time home following college.)
    Biscuits? Holy, moly, I’ve even taught biscuit classes! My friends know they’ll receive a batch along with any illness or celebration. It’s just what I do. And as EASY and cheap as it is, it’s also the ultimate pleaser: One basket, one Dollar Store tea towel, one jar of jam, and a dozen homemade biscuits. Why, you’re popularity will soar even if your politics don’t. Here’s the winner. Just ask my friends. And trust me, once you get the knack, it’s a blindfold happening….easy-peasy:

    USE WHITE LILY FLOUR if at all possible (lightest grain soft winter wheat)
    2 cups self-rising flour
    1/2 stick butter (or 1/4 Crisco and 1/4 butter)
    2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk

    Cut COLD butter into the flour with a hand pastry blender until pea-size crumbs.
    Pour COLD buttermilk over the mixture.
    Stir LIGHTLY until incorporated. Flour your hands. PAT ingredients together.
    Wet the counter with drops of water. Adhere sheet of wax paper 14 X 14.
    Sprinkle extra SR flour loosely over adhered wax paper.
    Dump mixture onto wax paper.
    LIGHTLY, working from outside the flour mixture, form a mound.
    Sprinkle extra SR flour over the mound and your hands.
    GENTLY incorporate the dough/buttermilk….GENTLY! NO heavy-handed manipulation or kneading. (Pretend its a hot mess, and you’ll get burned if you touch too severely.)
    Work lightly to make a flour mound…not a smooth dough ball.
    Keep PATTING and molding into a 1″ thick mound (or crispier biscuits 3/4″).
    Continually dip biscuit cutter (or small glass) into extra flour.
    Cut desired size biscuits.
    Place biscuits in pan with melted butter.
    (Sides touching for soft biscuits, 1″ apart for crisp)
    Bake 8-10 min or until golden brown

    Brought to you with extreme gratitude to precious my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother (who lived to 107 and alone until 100) who paved the way for my love of biscuit making!
    Bake in 500 degree oven (YES, 500 degrees) 8-10 minutes

  2. Mindy says:

    The fact that you just ate biscuits and gravy for the first time in your life makes me want to cry. I made them for breakfast this last weekend. Favorite breakfast food ever.

    • Karen says:

      Gravy as a breakfast food is really effin’ weird for me, lol. LOVED the biscuits. Still haven’t tried to make them, but when I do I’ll be eating them with butter I think. And jam. If they work well I’ll be making them for Thanksgiving dinner. Is that an acceptable use of biscuits? Y’all. ~ karen!

      • Mindy says:

        We had biscuits with butter and homemade raspberry jam with dinner last night, so definitely acceptable.
        As for the gravy, it has pork BREAKFAST sausage in it. I always add brown sugar or maple syrup to mine. Good shit, kids.

  3. Ann Brookens says:

    The main secret to flakey biscuits is roll them out and fold them over, roll them out, fold them over, roll them out, fold them over…that’s how they get those layers in there. Or, as with pie crust, they can have pockets where the bits of shortening that were lightly cut into the flour have melted. The best biscuits I ever had were made with lard, not shortening. However, lard gives you gas. I think that’s why Hardee’s stopped using lard for their biscuits. (Well, that and vegetarians refusing to buy them.)
    The recipe I use came from Betty Crocker, and I can remember it because it is a one two three recipe: 1 tsp. salt, 2 cups flour, 3 tsps. baking powder. Mix together well, then add 1/4 c. shortening and 3/4 c. milk OR 1/3 c. vegetable oil and 2/3 c. milk. (I can remember the milk/fat equals 1 cup!) The oil makes the dough soft enough for drop biscuits, the shortening dough needs to be rolled or patted out and cut. Don’t forget to roll and fold several times! Bake at 450 F for 10-12 minutes. I put them on a cookie sheet instead of in a pan because I like them browned all the way around.

  4. connie says:

    Ok Karen , you’ve convinced me .
    I’ve decided after reading this I ‘m going to add Memphis to my bucket list. I too luv Elvis and what’s not to love about BBQ and biscuits? Yummm! I ‘m trying my hand with the 1-2-3/4 biscuits recipe tomorrow :)

    • Karen says:

      It was fun! We probably spent one more day than we needed to there. Fly there on a Friday and fly home on Monday. And always be aware. Memphis is a dangerous city so just don’t go wandering off dark alleys. ~ karen!

  5. Bobbi says:

    My granny made banana pudding with meringue on top. In an enormous bowl that she put under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the meringue. Layer of homemade vanilla pudding, layer of bananas, layer of vanilla wafers. Repeat until the top of bowl is reached. Top with meringue. Yummy.

  6. Stephbo says:

    *Horrified GASP*. Banana pudding is heaven in a bowl. Pudding, just slightly overripe bananas, whipped cream, and Nilla wafers all mushed together. You really have been deprived. Bless your heart.

  7. Gillian says:

    Loved the dresser.

    The doll heads are creepy.

    Excellent restraint on the necklace. I’d have had a hard time too. Especially since you’ve got such a great book case to display it in…..

    I agree with Jacqueline. Although I don’t know what Martin Luther King would have wanted I think she’s probably got a better idea than the people who turned it into a museum.

    FinaLly, Betty looked 21 to me! I think it must be the glasses. ?

    I’m glad you all had a good time. Someday soon I’ll get there too!

    • Karen says:

      Yeah it’s a tough call. I really wanted to see the Civil Rights Museum, but not going into it somehow seemed the Civil thing to do. ~ karen!

  8. Stephbo says:

    What?? All that BBQ and NO BANANA PUDDING?!?!? That’s sacrilegious, my friend. There’s nothing like homemade banana pudding. The best I’ve ever had was made by an older African American woman who was as wide as she was tall. Miss Georgia, God bless her.

  9. JulieD says:

    mmm-mmm what a post! I had to make biscuits and homemade sausage patties for dinner after reading it! My family thanks you.
    I’ve got a pretty good recipe for biscuits- easy to remember too. I call them 1-2-3/4 biscuits, and they are easier than making a pie crust. Once memorized, you can have a dozen ready for the oven before it’s even done preheating.
    1 stick of unsalted butter- (4oz)
    1 tsp salt
    2 c. flour all purpose, (or you can get fancy and use ½ all-purpose and ½ cake flour to lower the protein, thus making a more delicate biscuit)
    ¾ c milk
    4 tsp baking powder
    That’s the order I remember the ingredients in, since it’s 1-2-3/4. If I was writing it out properly, it would go:
    2c flour
    1 tsp salt
    4 tsp baking powder
    1 stick of very cold unsalted butter ( 4oz)
    ¾ c milk
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
    Mix together first four ingredients in a bowl, cut the cold butter into pieces, and cut into flour mixture as if you’re making pie crust. (when making a double or triple batch, I use my Cuisinart on pulse for this step.)Stir the milk in with a large wooden spoon to make a dough. Roll out on flour covered surface into a rectangle about ½” thick. At this point you can cut out your biscuits if you want. Or, for biscuits with lots of distinct layers, fold the dough rectangle into thirds, turn a quarter turn, and roll out again into a rectangle, fold into thirds, and turn a quarter turn, roll again, etc Do this three or four times and then cut out your biscuits. Nestle the rounds up next to each other on a parchment covered or ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Coat the tops with butter when they come out of the oven.

    For even faster biscuits, without the mess of rolling them out, use this same recipe, but with 1 cup of milk instead of 3/4. Drop on parchment lined or greased baking sheet with an ice cream scoop, leaving a couple inches between each mound of dough, and bake at 400°F until done- about 20 minutes or so. I use these warm from the oven for strawberry shortcake. Not too sweet, and so good.

    • Karen says:

      Wait, W a i t, WAIT! I think you hit the nail on the biscuit! The biscuits I ate DID seem to be layered. The ones we had at breakfast seemed like shale almost, with many layers that fell apart when you picked them up. I think THAT’s what made those biscuits so distinct and delicious! O.K. I have to make biscuits. Probably right now actually. Thanks JulieD! ~ karen!

  10. cheryl seals says:

    WOW , Sounds like a great trip with some fun ol’ Gals ! The custard pie is one of my hubby’s fav’s an I have made probably 50 of them ( no kidding) since Nov. of last year ! He says I make a mean pie especially the custard one, which by the way I think he does so I will keep making them ! Two in the oven as we speak….I found the pictures of the doll heads with assorted lids on their heads to be a little creepy, but it is almost halloweenie ! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into a wonderfull trip even when we couldn’t be there with you !

  11. Jennie Lee says:

    Since I was born in Tennessee, I feel an irrational sense of pride, hearing that you had such a nice visit. As for Sun Records; if you haven’t heard Howlin’ Wolf sing “Smokestack Lightning”, you should. In case you somehow didn’t hear, B. B. King got his name from being called Beale Street Blues Boy, in his youth. My maternal grandmother made great biscuits, as well as fried apple fritters. Although it may be unsouthern of me, I don’t like gravy; I prefer butter and honey on my biscuits. If you’re ever lucky enough to find pear preserves, grab some. It tastes like honey and cinnamon. If you have no biscuit cutter, you can easily make one from a section of tin can; a ring that’s sharp on the bottom edge and has the rounded rim on top for protection. Yes, biscuits are not sweet, like scones. Southern cornbread is not sweet, either. It’s made with yellow cornmeal,; no sugar. My relatives called sweet cornbread “Yankee cornbread”, and said if it was sweet, it was cake, not bread. It’s good with any beans, including green beans cooked with ham or bacon. I still can’t believe you didn’t get that chicken pillow. Now you must make one! For when Cuddles isn’t feeling cuddly.

    • nancy says:

      In Louisiana we NEVER ate gravy on biscuits either, butter and honey, butter and jelly, butter and cold orange marmalade (my favorite).

  12. Sylvia says:

    Reading about your trip brings back fond memories of the time my family and I went to Memphis. We had an amazing time and Graceland was incredible, which surprised us all, since we are not huge Elvis fans. Anyhow, noticing the yuengling lager in one pic. Great beer right? Only available in the USA. I always bring up a case when I go stateside.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Glad you had a great trip. But here mostly to say: I WANT THAT DRESSER. I am in love. How far is it to drive from Mississauga I wonder? Would they hold it for me? I am only half kidding. Love Chicken Betty and her new glasses!! My friend went to Vegas, found a pair like that in a new eye glass shop and ordered them with her reading prescription. I am sure Betty paid no where near what my friend paid ($500 – ssshhh don’t tell her I told you! Yup $500 for reading glasses….)

  14. Milton says:

    Wonderful post on your trip to Memphis. Always glad when someone gets a favorable impression of my lifetime home. In the South, the Holy Grail of biscuit mixing has always been Martha White self-rising flour. Martha White is now owned by Pillsbury. My wife always made wonderful biscuits from scratch until she discovered Martha White, now Pillsbury, frozen Southern style biscuits. They are cooked frozen and produce a wonderful, light biscuit with absolutely no work, mess, or fuss. It is possible to make better from scratch, but my wife thought her time better spent on her pie crusts which nothing commercially available could ever touch. One of the best scratch biscuits recipes I’ve found is from Alton Brown:


    A wonderful side-by-side cooking video segment with Alton and his grandmother making recipes teachs you everything you need to know about technique:


    The Crisco shortening is an interesting aspect of Southern foodlore. Developed around 1905, Crisco is made from cottonseed. Had you gotten outside of Memphis, just South in the Mississippi Delta you would have seen miles of fields of white cotton bolls, almost like snow which would have warmed your heart and reminded you of Canada I’m sure. The cotton is picked and ginned to remove the seeds which are heated and pressed to produce an oil which is further chemically processed to yield Crisco. The town I grew up in had a Proctor and Gamble plant which processed cottonseed oil to make Crisco and every Fall you could smell the cottonseed oil in the air which gave the whole town an aroma of fried chicken being cooked. Crisco was originally marketed as a healthier alternative to Lard. Before that time, Lard produced from fat in all the pigs grown to produce the meat turned into all the barbeque and country ham eaten in the South was the universal cooking fat in the South. Many years later the issue of trans-fats turned the table on Crisco and it turns out Lard may be as healthy or healthier, who knows. Moderation in everything is probably the safest alternative.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Milton! That actually looks like a great recipe. I tried to watch the video but being in Canada it doesn’t seem as though I’m able to. Which is a shame because like making pastry or pasta I’m sure the technique is more than half the battle in making great biscuits. I’ll try Youtube and see if I can find it on there. ~ karen!

      • Milton says:

        Sorry about the video link, I tried to find it on YouTube with no luck. It is posted again on the cooking channel link, maybe that’s not banned in Canada.


        Worst case scenario, this is the complete word-by-word transcript of the video:


        Memphis was named for the ancient city of Egypt along another famous river which is the connection that the Pyramid is supposed to bring to mind. The Pyramid was originally built as a concert center and home for the Memphis State basketball team. Things didn’t work out and today it is a rather spectacular Bass Pro shop with the observation deck on top where you took your great selfie of the four sisters. I once attended a Bette Midler concert there where she came down from the ceiling at the center of the Pyramid to start the show in her fabulous costume riding a half-moon trapeze swing. The show was unbelievable, she brought the house down with the Janis Joplin tune “Midnight in Memphis”. I think you kind of captured the same overall vibe in your post about Memphis.

        All of which was to lead me to the subject of grits which you briefly touched upon but which, like biscuits, are a mainstay of diet in the South. Some people form opinions without having all sides of the story, kind of like your visit to the Lorraine Motel (the only thing that could have made that picture more iconic would have been if you had your Junkers T-shirt on), and grits have gotten a bad rap in the past. Bette Midler was once quoted as saying grits tasted like “buttered kitty litter” to her. Undoubtedly, she only tasted “instant grits” which is a bad way to try grits and bears only a nomenclature connection to real grits. The best grits I’ve ever tasted were stone-ground from the Georgia Agricultural Museum in Tifton, GA:


        They require more effort in cooking but give you an instant taste of their origin from sweet corn that is wonderful with only sweet butter, salt and pepper. Settlers undoubtedly loved it to preserve the taste of sweet corn throughout the winter.

        Some say grits are the first truly American food. Native American Indians offered early settlers a steaming food substance consisting of softened corn, the earliest form of hominy, seasoned with salt and fat, probably bear grease (No lard, pigs weren’t native- brought over by early Spanish explorers). Settlers liked it and added it to their diet, later developing milling processes to grind into a finer texture which became the grits we’ve eaten in the South ever since. All sorts of chefs now create many variations of fancy grits recipes, many with cheese, but sausage gravy or country ham red eye gravy are the only things that I regularly enjoy with my grits.

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