Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Country Kitchen: A Mecca for Southern Home Cookin’

No matter where you are from, nothing compares with the comfort and satisfaction of a home cooked meal.  This is particularly true in the South.  But not everyone has time to prepare all the fixin’s.  Enter the mom and pop diner.  Specifically, the Country Kitchen.
Before I proceed, let me define what Southern home cookin’ is by telling you what it is not.  It is not frou-frou reincarnations of Southern recipes given new ingredients unknown to the self-sufficient farmers of my grandparents’ generation.  Avocadoes, cumin powder, cilantro, and the like, were not staples down on the farm.  The post-Depression era in which my mother and Aunt were raised dictated that almost all ingredients in the Southern cooks’ repertoire be raised on the farm.  My grandmother churned butter; killed and dressed her own chickens; slaughtered pigs to make her own sausage, chitlins, cured ham, and lard; made biscuits from scratch; canned food and preserves; and had fresh “squeezed” milk every day.
The world, however, has changed.  The economy is tough.  Everything is fast paced.  Competition is stiff.  And, sadly, there is a proliferation of mediocre chain restaurants.  Thus, good ole home cookin’ is rarely found anywhere, inside or outside of the home, anymore.  No one has the wherewithal to do things the old fashioned way.  So, what are hungry Southerners to do?  In bygone days, one could hop in the car and drive to the local mom and pop diner sure that they would receive a meal every bit as good as they or their Grandmas could make.  Today, this last bastion of Southern cuisine is on the decline.  Thankfully Country Kitchen is alive and thriving!
Country Kitchen is one of those no-frills restaurants that served as a beer joint before the current owners, Bill and Doris Hawley, bought the business thirty-eight years ago and turned it into a successful restaurant.  And it’s easy to understand the reason for their success.  Simply put, Country Kitchen is one of the best places around to get Southern home cookin’! 

 Country Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week.  The prices are very reasonable and the menu includes everything from eggs and brains to chicken livers.  If that sounds a little too “down on the farm” for you then rest assured there are plenty of other Southern favorites to be had.  My personal recommendations include the fried flounder, chicken and dumplings, rolls, chocolate pie, and banana pudding.  I don’t know how they bread the fried flounder but it is the lightest and best tasting fish I’ve ever had.  Truly!  And the chocolate pie is every bit as good as my Grandma Irene used to make.  Don’t believe me?  Stop in and try it for yourself!  And when you do, tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you!

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