What’s for Dinner?

Posted on February 13, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Being at home between two travel weeks always poses the dilemma of what to eat. Are there still leftovers in the refrigerator, does our schedule make it more convenient to eat out, or do we plan menus and stock up at the grocery store. Actually, eating is usually a combination of those options. Having acquainted our followers with various landmarks and attractions of our hometown in Mississippi, this week we decided to ishare our local culinary options.

When I worked for the daily newspaper in college, I always envied the food editor and restaurant critic. Can you imagine getting paid to dine at all the prominent restaurants, sample the menu and tell others about it? Any pretense of dieting and weight control would be out the window. Of course that is a matter of personal discipline, but if you are getting paid to eat…!

Being a suburb of the largest metropolitan area in the state we have no shortage of eating establishments. Not only is every fast food franchise imaginable strung out along Highway 80, most other chains are available near the I-20 interchange such as Shoney’s, Applebee’s, Newk’s and McAlister’s. We have six Mexican restaurants, three Japanese restaurants and two Chinese mega-buffets in town. Unfortunately we have to go to Jackson to indulge in our favorite Indian and Thai cuisine.

But why eat out when you can pick up a meat entree, two vegetables and cornbread at the Kroger deli for $4.95 or BBQ chicken, brisket or pulled pork plus two sides at the local Exxon station for the same price (ribs are a little more but well worth the expense)? Now that I am teaching at Mississippi College we can eat a good meal at the college cafeteria for the faculty rate of $4.00! Unfortunately, one of our favorite places for lunch was Lula’s which has recently closed. Located in a historic, renovated house in Old Town Clinton, it was only a 15-minute walk and a place that featured Southern blue plate lunches, including fried green tomatoes.

Our unquestionable favorite has become Pooh’s deli, located in an area of town where I was not allowed to venture when growing up. One could not find better soul food anywhere in the South! Established by Pooh, a petit black grandmother, and run by her son, Lombardi and grandchildren, this buffet offers two meats and an array of vegetables that change every day. Unlimited portions of collards, black-eyed peas, okra, green beans, corn on the cob, turnips, stewed cabbage and everything else imaginable is paired with roast beef, fried or baked chicken, catfish, pork chops or meatloaf. The price of $7.95 includes salad, bread, dessert and sweet iced tea.

For more upscale lunches, our choice is often the Froghead Grill with a broad selection of deli items from burgers, wraps, innovative salads and plate lunches. It is a place to encounter and fellowship with local business people and friends from church and to grab a quick bite to eat.

Two other local favorites deserve mentioning due to our occasional patronage. The Tin Shed Bar-B-Que with its combo plates piled high with meat selections dripping with spicy, honey-based sauce with beans, slaw, potato salad and pickles is an attraction that we have to fight to resist. Then there is the “Nawlins Grill” right here in Clinton. For those who don’t talk like Mississippians that’s New Orleans Grill where we can get shrimp dishes, oysters, crawfish and etouffe as good as any found on gulf coast.

With all these dining options you can understand why I am having difficulty reducing my waistline and following Bobbye’s suggestions of oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch and vegetable soup for supper at home.

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