Friday, August 5, 2011

Adventures in eating

My family and I are on the road, attending the big summer math meetings (woo-hoo!).  Of course, we packed a bunch of snacks for the road, and there's PB & J, fruit, and trail mix for quick lunches in the hotel room.  But we're here in Kentucky long enough that many of our meals will be in restaurants.

I try hard to go to only locally-owned restaurants.  This leads to what you might call "adventures in eating"; national chains are predictable, but you never know what you're going to get when you walk into a completely new restaurant.  I actually like that uncertainty!

Our first restaurant of the trip came while we were in the middle of West Virginia.  We drove past exits with Subway/McDonald's/Burger King signs and then completely different exits with McDonalds/Subway/Wendys signs.  We finally got hungry and left the highway at a Pizza Hut/McDonalds/Subway exit.  We drove about two blocks past those advertised places and came across a place I'd never seen before:  Biscuit World.

Now, that restaurant SOUNDS like West Virginia -- there's no Biscuit World in Pennsylvania.  And, I found out later, it really is based in West Virginia, although it's now a chain that has spread out of its home state into Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky.  Much of the menu that day was a choice between breaded-fried-meat with biscuits or breaded-fried-meat with potatoes.  We caused a bit of a stir when I asked what vegetables were available on the vegetable platter.  "We don't have a vegetable platter" the cashier said.  "It says right here on the whiteboard that you have a vegetable platter special for $4.99," we pointed out.  No one had ever ordered it, she said, so she conferred with her colleagues and they decided I could choose four vegetables from this list:  mashed potatoes, cole slaw, chunky potatoes, friench fries, pinto beans (but they were out of beans today), candied apples, mac –n –cheese, green beans, and corn.

We had a great lunch together (I declined the vegetable platter and got the scrambled eggs).  The biscuits were fantastic.

When we arrived in Lexington, an internet search for "locally owned restaurants" turned up Gumbo Ya Ya, a Cajun restaurant just two blocks from our hotel.  The boys had gumbo and jambalaya for the first time in their lives, and they're hooked.

For us, the first restaurant was a great adventure, but we probably wouldn't go back.  That's okay, now we know.  Cajun food itself was an adventure for the boys; both the food and the Gumbo Ya Ya restaurant are things we'd recommend to our friends anytime.  Success!

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