The clerk just stared at me for a full ten seconds before I repeated my inquiry as to the whereabouts of the upscale goods so blatantly advertised out front. She then shook her head before ripping one of the most vile, disgusting and guttural belches that the deepest recesses of her ample gut have ever incubated. It even caused her torpedo titties to vacillate under that too tight shirt and seemed to have caught her off guard as well. To be fair, I am quite sure it was an accident but spectacular nonetheless just for its sheer quality and volume.The overwhelming stench of noxious gut rot and sour fish washed over me, and I wondered do I congratulate her on giving birth to this, say bless you, or simply ignore the intestinal perfume now mixing with the bingo parlor’s smoke on my clothes. What a dilemma worthy of Emily Post’s sage advice. She beat me to the punch by saying, “There go your gourmet” before walking off to take the rest of her lunch break I had so brazenly interrupted.
The sun’s waning rays cast a glow much like a January day in Barrow as I finally rolled into Sopchoppy after this action packed day. Yes, this backwood crossroads was all I had hoped for. A couple of older wood buildings huddle around a four way intersection while a water tower emblazoned with the city’s name lords over this sprawling urban core.
A simple handwritten, black and white sign plastered front and center in the local IGA’s window caused me to slam on the brakes, back up, and gawk. I asked myself holy crap, what the hell is this? The tiny grocery store actually processes hog and deer meet. Can you imagine bringing your road kill to the woman working the fried chicken display at the Walmart hot deli in Atlanta and asking her to process your dead possum into sausage? She’d pepper you with one expletive after another before telling you to go shove that carcass right up your ass.This one was too rich to pass up so I marched right inside that IGA under the guise of looking for a snack, and the two cashiers looked up at me like who the hell is this hot mess walking through the door. It was like I had dropped down from Mars. One said, “hello,” rather hesitantly, and I knew I only had seconds to build a rapport. So I just had to ask (but of course prefacing it by saying I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass), “Do people really bring in dead hogs?”
“Oh yes! That’s how most people eat around here.” Does it taste good was the next question on my inquiring mind that just had to know the gory details. “Well, Dwayne works his magic and adds his own stuff to the sausage.” Naturally I asked if Dwayne was in. Sadly he had left for the day. I was of course mildly disappointed I had made it all the way to Sopchoppy and failed to meet a modern day Sam the Butcher.
That’s a Brady Bunch reference for those of you scratching your watch and winding your ass now over that one. I wondered out loud if Dwayne could have processed the roadkill I had made just outside of town. I don’t think my two new friends were amused. Anyway, I am sure by now someone had already boosted that possum off the roadway and was simmering it in some pot. Evidently this is normal in rural America according to my friend, Mike, who did not share my same wonderment of this whole concept.Memorabilia such as old airplane models and cash registers dotted the IGA, but a black mamie doll presiding over the fruits and vegetables sucked me right in. I got to thinking can you imagine the hell that would cut loose if Kroger put one of these jewels of times past in its produce department? God how I wanted to ask the two women about it, but my better judgment thankfully prevailed. No need to open a can of worms for no reason. I will admit I was mildly uncomfortable seeing that doll and wondered if any black customers actually dare shop here.
The IGA’s down home flavor was just too good to be true and totally worth the trip to experience something so unlike my normal, sanitized, politically correct, urban lifestyle. By now I had missed the last flight home and was in no particular hurry. Rounding out this most action packed day at Lyndy’s Chicken in Blountsville served up a most delicious dessert. I asked the young girl manning the counter which grease soaked treat was best for takeaway, and she said most people get the chicken fingers. As I perused the 1970s style menu board on the back wall, she volunteered the gizzards and livers were good as well. Hmm. This sounds close to my Vietnamese food adventures for sure and about on the same level as eating Dwayne’s hog sausage.
Without even knowing what the hell a gizzard was, I ordered the “box” meal with slaw, fries, and a biscuit. She asked “Do you want those fried or steamed.” Little did she know she set back progress for now I had to think about this. Choices, choices, choices. A rather large lady occupying the entire booth nearby answered for me by shouting across the restaurant, “He ain’t ready for no steamed. Give him fried!” Her voice eerily similar to my bingo tutor earlier in the morning caused me to have vivid flashbacks of fleeing that joint on foot.Crispy on the outside. Mushy on the inside. Gizzards are quite the treat. I imagine these are chicken intestines, and whatever that squishy crap was inside them can remain an ancient Redneck Riviera secret. Hell, for all I know that probably was crap. What scared me most is I liked them. I really was ok eating a box of lard soaked bird guts, and I began to worry I wasn’t seeking out some sort of gourmet sandwich on focaccia bread. Oh man, what has this day done to my big city sensibilities I try so hard to cultivate.
My maiden voyage into the bowels of the Redneck Riviera was just all too short. As I pondered my next stop on this fifty state tour, a sign at the Lynn Haven WalMart gave me an idea. The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile will be rolling into town.
Posting a picture of the sign on Facebook caused my friend Bob to ask, “Why are you shopping at Walmart?” I am now beginning to understand the hidden code. People like “us” aren’t supposed to be mixing with “them.” Yeah, I get it. Well, you know what, I really am more like “them” than I realized prior to this short trip.
Perhaps I can catch the Weiner Mobile at a small town Walmart sometime this spring and wash down the whole spectacle with another plate of gizzards. That’s infinitely more interesting than sampling overpriced nasty food and wine at some trendy and appropriately overpriced Midtown Atlanta restaurant I have to pretend to like!