My mouth is watering! Every time I pick up Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey through the Soul of the South by Susan Puckett with photographs by Langdon Clay, my stomach growls. Having fixated on the scrumptious crawdaddies on the cover, I am surprised drool does not stream from my mouth.
Not only does this book rouse my hunger for the various and unusual foods (tamales and kibbee) of the region, but it rouses my desire to hop in the plane and day-visit each and every destination. A little known fact: when you fly into a small airport the fixed-based operator usually has a courtesy car to offer you. Most are beat up ex-police cruisers, but these cars are good enough to get one to town and back. Put a couple of dollars in the tank and Bob’s your uncle.
Anyhoo, the book’s format is as if the reader is starting in the north and traveling south. The first night’s stay is Memphis “fancy” at the Peabody with a list of walkable good eats. Go right across the street to the Rendezvous or climb the fire escape to Itta Bena on Beale. Hail a taxi to Cooper and Young for the communal tables of the Beauty Shop or sit at Acre Restaurant, the hottest gastronomic ticket in town. It’s all good!
The author includes recipes for barbecue accompaniments such as Leonard’s Memphis Style Slaw and Alcenia’s (on North Main) Sweet Potato Pie. Want to freshen your palate before the meal? She provides mixers such as the Peabody Hotel’s Blue Suede Shoes Martini and The Presbyterian. Sorry, pit masters, no barbecue secrets are divulged in these pages.
Next stop, Tunica and environs such as Uncle Henry’s Place Inn and Restaurant at Moon Lake or The Hollywood, a honky-tonk that opened 1969 in bustling Hollywood, Miss. Puckett points out that both Hollywood and Moon Lake have literary ties with Grisham mentioning the former eatery and Tennessee Williams speaking of the latter.
The one Hill town mentioned is Como. I chuckle at the words “hill town” having run every road in that small berg and the one hill is when I cross the railroad tracks, but I digress. I enjoyed reading the Longreen Fox Hunt and Blessing of the Hounds Breakfast section with the Longreen Fox Hunt Hot Curried Fruit recipe as an old-fashioned accoutrement. Speaking of old-fashioned, the Tomato Aspic recipe is on page 162.Other towns on the stop include Cleveland, Greenville, Leland, Greenwood, Yazoo City and Vicksburg. I am dying to try Lusco’s in Greenwood, which sounds like the secret garden of culinary delight. Susan Puckett is a native of Jackson, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to fund the Puckett Family Journalism Scholarship at the University of Mississippi.