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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Top Ten Dishes in East Memphis

After nearly a dozen years of maintaining my 200-plus pounds in East Memphis (it’s hard work, really), I’m an expert.  Really.  I can’t promise you these are in the right order.  But they all belong–in my belly, and on this list.  Would I lie to you?  Not about food.

#10  Combo Vermicelli, Pho Saigon

#9  Alambre, Las Delicias.

#8  Reuben, Bogey’s Delicatessen

#7  Huey Burger w/ fries, Huey’s

#6 Ching’s Wings “Original Seasoned” (dry) wings

#5  N. Y. Strip Steak Sandwich, Half Shell

#4  BBQ Chicken Pizza, Memphis Pizza Cafe

#3  Baja Santa Fe Pizza, Old Venice Pizza Company.

#1  (cop-out tie) Veal Piccata and Elfo’s Special, Gristanti’s.

This is something of a middle-class list:  all but three of these dishes are less than 10 bucks a head (assuming you share the pizzas).  But with choices like these, why pay more?

Honorable mention:  Some of these aren’t quite big enough to be a full-blown dish:  Lobster Roll, Bangkok Alley.  Brother Juniper’s, anything.  Queso at El Porton.  Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Buckley’s and Houston’s.  Central BBQ, BBQ nachos.  Dan Dan Noodles, Crispy Honey Shrimp, and Mongolian Beef at P. F. Chang’s.  Buckley’s Filets.  Corky’s dry rack of ribs.

Tell me where I’m wrong, people, or give me your top three in comments.

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I recently read David Platt’s book Radical. In the beginning of the book he recounts his experience teaching the Bible to a group of believers in an Asian underground house church. He talked about how despite less than ideal conditions- they met in a crowded, sparse, poorly lit room with no amenities- they went for almost two weeks for hours on end, listening to him teach. It reminded me of a story in the book Three Cups Of Tea, a book by Greg Mortensen that recounts his experiences building schools in rural Pakistan. In one of the villages, a regional political/religious leader told the village chief they could not buils the school. After some discussion, he agreed to allow the school to be built if the village would pay a “fine”. The cost would be about half the wealth  of the village (this was a very poor village). Mortensen was outraged, but the chief quickly agreed. The chief explained later that his most prized possesion was a beautiful copy of the Koran, but that he was unable to read it. He said that while the wealth would not last for long, it was a small price to pay for his children being able to read what he believed to be God’s word for themselves. I pray that we will desire the true Word of God with this kind of hunger.

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There are some places to eat in Memphis that have, deservedly so, developed cult-like status locally. Think Jerry’s, Brother Juniper’s, Bryant’s- comfort food. While you’ve probably heard of these places, and have a few of your own to add, I have one that you might not have heard of. Ching’s Wings. Ching’s is in a strip mall on the east side of Getwell just south of Park and it has the best wings you will ever eat. I couldn’t pretend to tell you what he does different, I just know that his wings are unlike any other I’ve had. That’s the best reason to love Ching’s, but not the only one. The place itself it decked out with autographed pictures and jerseys of Memphis Tiger basketball and football players, and it’s not unusual to run into the players themselves. It is probably the reason Calipari was able to bring in so many high-level recruits, kind of our secret recruiting weapon. One last reason to love Ching’s is the owner, Lafayette. We met him waiting for an order one night and he made us feel completely at home. Being there you get the sense that he treats everybody that way. You have to love these places that are truly a cross-section of Memphis, where no matter what part of town you come from, you’re made to feel welcome.

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My wife and I have pondered naming a dog Truett Cathy, after the esteemed Chick-Fil-A founder.  I know that he will be relieved to know that he has not hurt his chances with the new Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

The new sandwich is outrageously good.  I thought it was just coincidence that it came out the week of the World Cup and the anniversary of D-Day.  Now I know that is just there way of saying, “We really, really did achieve a bit of glory here.”  It’s more Christian than being closed on Sunday.  Eat one if you want to feel alive.

On the way home I composed this little ditty to commemorate the occasion.  Strike up the band in your head to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

My buds have tasted glory in a Spicy Chicken Sand

It set my tongue on fire and made me lick my hands

I guzzled lots of water and to the streets I ran,

singing “Truett marches on”.

Glory, Glory Chicken Sandwich!

Glory, what a spicy sandwich.

Spicy glory in a sandwich,

Truett Cathey marches on.

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One of our favorite places to go in Memphis is the Memphis Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings downtown. By saying this is one of the reasons I love Memphis, I’m not saying other cities don’t have great farmer’s markets. I’m just saying I love ours. It is a wonderfully colorful and eclectic mix of food, flowers and people.

A couple of years ago our family ran into some health issues that we eventually found out were related to food allergies. As we worked through what we could eat, we got an education about where our food comes from, and how it is made. (Just for fun, read the labels at the grocery store next time you go, and try to find products that don’t have some form of sugar in the first three ingredients.)  As we looked for alternatives and tried to eat more “natural”, we got know some folks at the Farmer’s Market. We met people like Jill and Keith Forrester, who run Whitton Farms, and joined their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We got Dark Star Granola (absolutely heaven in small plastic bag) from Uele at Groovy Foods. We got educated and we got encouraged and we got some really good food. Everybody we have met was not just selling us some vegetables or bread or hummus, but they were generous with their time and knowledge. The Memphis Farmer’s Market is not just about sustainable agriculture or organic foods, it is also about community. It’s one of the places that makes Memphis feel like home.

(Note: There are several other great farmer’s markets, from Shelby Farms to the Botanic Gardens to Cooper-Young, and probably more that I haven’t heard of.)

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I listened to a podcast of Phillip Jenkins this morning. It was a lecture at the Veritas Forum on “The Future of Global Christianity”. In one part he talked about how our cultural background affects our reading of the Bible. He used the example of discussing Psalm 126 with a West African Christian.

126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

 4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
 5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
 6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

He said it’s easy to understand reaping with joy, but why is the sower sowing with tears? The African said that, of course, he was sowing in a time of famine. The seed he was sowing was seed he could not eat if there was to be the hope of food later. He said much of the imagery of the Bible is about food, but we miss it because we don’t read the Bible hungry (literally). Now, I am not advocating a famine to enhance our Bible study (maybe some fasting though). I do think we need to be aware of the cultural limitations and prejudices we bring to our reading and find other voices to help to see the fullness of God’s Word. The sower’s joy (and ours)  is far richer when we know the sower’s hunger.

*more about this painting later

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Wanted to register my agreement with Matt on the excellence of Muddy’s Bake Shop.  Vastly superior to the other place, the one that starts with a G, and one reason to feel good about making East Memphis home (esp since I’m not at liberty to leave).

Two big time Muddy’s tips for you.  Don’t try them unless you want to wind up naming your first born after me:

(1)  The peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies are under-rated–they’re excellent and affordable.

(2)  Cut the body of the cupcake horizontally into two pieces, and invert the top…and it’s no longer a cupcake but a healthy “frosting sandwich“.  Granted that means less frosting for later for those of us who are/were bearded.

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