Food: A Love Story

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan Read Free Book Online

Book: Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jim Gaffigan
Tags: Humour, Non-Fiction
response I turn to Jeannie: “It will be worth it.” The line is filled with nicely dressed retirees. It feels a little like an open casting call for actors needed to play country club members. They are all here for the Mrs. Wilkes southern-style boarding house dining experience. Soon enough we are sitting at one of the large tables for ten that my loud brood will share with strangers, Benihana-style. We don’t order. Within a moment the table is covered with every foreseeable comfort food that George Wendt could think of. The meal is amazing. The conversation is minimal. Plates and bowls of fried chicken, cornbread dressing, sweet potato soufflé, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, macaroni and cheese, corn muffins, and biscuits are shuffled around with the occasional “Oh, you have to try this.” Like magic, you could take three scoops ofsomething out of a bowl, and its contents would not diminish at all. All of the separate items would mix together on the plate into new combinations and blend into some other amazing thing that superseded the original taste. The whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Now, I have a powerful appetite, but at this meal the endless bowls and plates of food conquered it. Eventually I had to declare, “The South has won!” Unlike Thanksgiving dinner, where you can, a few hours later, go back into battle to relive some of the more glorious moments with a turkey sandwich, at Mrs. Wilkes, there are no doggie bags. They literally will not allow you to take any unfinished food out of the restaurant. It is like an episode of The Twilight Zone . The endless, awe-inspiring food and the ethereally historic atmosphere of the dining room can only exist together. Removing one from the other could somehow diminish the power of the delectable time machine that is Mrs. Wilkes.
    The dining room is located on the lower level of the late-nineteenth-century boarding house that the original Mrs. Wilkes ran for more than fifty years. Mrs. Wilkes’s goal was to offer her guests comfortable lodgings and southern-style, home-cooked meals in a simple yet elegant setting. I never understood why the boarding house concept was such an important part of the southern culture until I experienced the meal that day. After eating ten pounds of fried chicken and side dishes, what person would ever have the energy to get up and actually go somewhere? Of course you would want to board. It was all I could do to stop myself from crawling up the stairs and passing out in someone’s bed. Of course, though, I didn’t. That would be ridiculous. I did the right thing and had Jeannie and the kids carry me back to the hotel.

    I’m a bad influence on Jeannie.

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY FOODLAND
    The first Sunday in February is a special day in the United States. It’s the day of the Super Bowl—the championship game between the winners of the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. People throw parties to watch the game and judge the commercials. I love football and enjoy the commercials, but what I most enjoy is the food served at Super Bowl parties. What is served on Super Bowl Sunday feels like a homecoming of all the great unhealthy American foods. They are dishes that taste great with beer and are all easy to eat while watching television. What could be more American than that? Hot dogs, pizza, and buffalo wings are great examples of Super Bowl Sunday foods. After traveling all around this amazing country, I have discovered that the deepest appreciation of and love for these Super Bowl Sunday foods can be found in the Midwest.
    I grew up in the Midwest, or the “flyover” part of the United States. To many on the coasts, the Midwest is mostly boring or, at its best, charmingly boring. While I don’t agree, I can empathize with this sentiment. I remember when I wasten years old looking around at my small Indiana town that didn’t even have a McDonald’s and thinking, I’m not supposed to be

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