Monday, December 12, 2005

Veggies Taste Better Fried

**Note: I did not actually post this on Monday. But I meant to, it was written and everything and then Panera Bread and Random Old Guy and Mario Party 7 got in the way. But I hate it when it looks like I've posted twice on one day, so I moved this one back a day so that the post before this one is on Tuesday alone. No, I'm not anal at all. Why do you ask?

I'm a big fan of "down home" cooking. "Southern" cooking, if you will. My mom's from Arkansas and my dad is from Louisiana. It's in my blood to eat fried chicken and mashed potatoes as often as possible. So don't judge me when I say that one of my favorite restaurants is Cracker Barrel. I'm not 80 years old and I like to think I'm not a hick. But I love, love, love biscuits and fried okra and hashbrown casserole and dumplings and sweet tea. LOVE IT. I could probably live off of that stuff, which is why I rarely go to Cracker Barrel. Just because it's called a Country Vegetable Plate, does not mean it's healthy. There's much more emphasis on the "country" than on the "vegetable" because at Cracker Barrel, "country = fried."

So Sunday night, I was ecstatic when my suggestion of Cracker Barrel was greeted with a hearty "OK!" from Anne, BGF, and random old guy we are still chauffeuring around. (And that's still a long story.) I was practically salivating from the thought of the Sunday special: Homestyle Fried Chicken with two sides. It's like heaven on a plate, people...all those fried starches just sitting there, begging to be eaten by me. :sigh: Just lovely. (And if you've never had fried okra, I highly recommend it. It was one of my favorite things my grandma would fix me when I was a kid. But be warned: try it fried before boiled. Because it spits when it's boiled and kinda creepy and not nearly as good.)

I looked up at one point, because even I need a breather when stuffing my face silly, and saw this girl being seated. She had on a navy blue sweatshirt with the words "Tiger Tennis" written on it. I'm insufferably nosy and continued looking at the Tiger Tennis sweatshirt, because it seemed...familiar. And what did I see written below it? "Ouachita Baptist University" I couldn't hardly believe it. I have never ever ran into another OBU student/alumni during my time in Ohio. Not that I'm surprised, or really that upset about it, but still. What in the world was a girl wearing an OBU sweatshirt doing in a Cracker Barrel on a Sunday night in Ohio?

BGF would NOT LET IT GO and so I went to talk to her before he somehow convinced random old guy to do the talking. Turns out she was a freshmen when I was a senior and played for two season with OBU. And she used to play tennis on the pro circuit. From what I gathered, she didn't graduate and is now living up here teaching tennis lessons. And no, I didn't ask for free lessons or something because the last time I played tennis, I cried because the gym teacher made me serve the ball until I could hit it onto the opposite and opposing court and it took me about 40 tries (and I'm completely not exaggerating on that number) and everyone sat there and watched and laughed and was embarrassed for me and then Brandy Price had the gall to say, "You did good," which made me cry even harder because she was lying and was normally kind of mean to me and then I knew she was pitying me and now I can't even play badminton without having a heart attack. So we laughed over the coincidence of seeing each other at a Cracker Barrel in Ohio when we had both attended a teensy spec of a school in southern Arkansas. I bid her a fond farewell and again congratulated myself on socializing with strangers.

So here's my moral of the story: go to Cracker Barrel whenever possible and look for fellow alumni. They might love fried okra too.

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