After spending much of the year on the road in northern Michigan writing a canoe/kayak guide, it's a relief to get away from my diet of cheese burgers and beer at Up North taverns. Over the last several years, I've gotten to know more about the U.P. than my own home town -- Detroit. But that's changing, as I start work on a travel guide to the city.
Got a chance to eat at Beans & Cornbread in Southfield, an upscale soul food restaurant. They're going to get into the guide. The food was great and the service excellent. We went on a Tuesday night, so it wasn't too crowded. I had the pork chops in red eye gravy, and my wife, the fried chicken. I tried a bit of both, and while the chicken wasn't as good as the "hens" my Arkansas grandmother "fried up," as she called it, it was better than anything I've tasted in years.
The dinner was traditionally southern, with three sides. I had greens, black eyed peas and corn. Northern white people usually consider boiled green beans as the only vegetable fit to put on the table. In the south, you get more variety.
While at the bar, I had an interesting discussion with an African-American woman about southern fried chicken, and she struck a chord with me. I told her the chicken was just about as good as my southern grandmother's and she told me that there was probably an African-American woman behind that recipe. Her comment brought back a misty memory of something my father told me about such a black woman who worked for his parents. I wonder if she was the source. My father's dead, and I'll never know. Such are the mysteries of the south.