Monday, March 29, 2010

Delta Blues

Andy and I took a trip from Jackson, Mississippi up through Memphis. We learned a lot about the blues and southern history, ate our weight in soul food, and danced our butts off.

We didn't do much in Jackson but we did see Farish Street, which was established and built by former slaves. In its heyday it was a self-contained community with everything from medical services to beauty shops to churches. Those times are over, but there are a couple of diners and juke joints still alive and kicking. We stopped and had a delicious lunch at Peaches Cafe: fried chicken, black-eyed peas, candied yams, cornbread muffins, and sweet tea. Awesome.

Vicksburg is about an hour, hour and a half away. When we arrived at the little bed and breakfast Andy had booked, the Bryn Rose Inn, we were stunned. It was...I mean, it was beautiful.

According to the website it's "one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in Mississippi." The grounds were green and picturesque. The rooms (large bedroom, sitting room, bathroom) had lots of windows, beautiful hardwood floors and furnishings, and all kinds of little touches that kind of brought the idea of "southern hospitality" to life for us. A little jar of fresh cookies, decanters of port and sherry in the "Great Room," fresh flowers, a wide selection of delicious breakfasts brought to the room on trays, etc. etc. There was also a lovely deck and a swimming pool, but of course I forgot my swimsuit.

We went and looked at the Mississippi river--in theory we watched the sun set but it was so cloudy you couldn't actually see it--and saw an otter or a mink. The debate continues.

Then we went to Duff's Bar and Grill and ordered the crawfish etouffe (delicious) and
some sort of black bean dish. Curious about the riverboat casinos, we boarded one and discovered that all casinos look alike once you're inside (smell alike, sound alike).

The next day, we checked out the National Military Park and the USS Cairo Museum. The park is not that exciting without the audio tour (we were going to do the audio tour but didn't) but the USS Cairo Museum was fun. Interesting to see the way the Civil War is portrayed in the south (you know, the War of Northern Aggression?)

We bickered a little about where to eat lunch but I convinced Andy to stop at The Tomato Place, this little roadside-stand-looking establishment which sells an odd assortment of goods, from fresh fruit and homemade jam to birdhouses to Star Wars figurines to random kitchen utensils. We ordered tomato pie, shish kabobs and fresh lemonade. It took a little while but it was worth the wait. Pretty sure that tomato pie has more calories than a tub of butter, but holy crap. Soooo good. He thanked me several times for making him stop there. This became a theme of the trip: one of us would convince the other to stop somewhere and it would turn out to be amazingly worthwhile.

Full and happy, we headed up to Clarksdale, where we had reservations to stay at the Ground Zero Blues Club (owned by Morgan Freeman). It was not what I expected. (To be continued.)

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