April 21, 2009

School Day.

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All attempts to Eat Mobile on Saturday were thwarted by fabulous weather and crowds of people. Ack. We were too hungry to wait in those lines.

Someone said that there was a fun looking place on MLK called Yam Yam's. Oh yes. I have heard of this place, I said. Have been meaning to try it.

We walked in and perused the menu - What's good tonight? I asked the very tall guy behind the counter. It's all good, he said. Okay. Quarter chicken dinner with sweet potato fries, collard greens and cornbread, plus a drink for $10. Cheap for that amount of food!

There were orders of pulled pork sandwiches, yams, fries and even red velvet cake. We sat at a big long table. We were a bit conspicuous. A group of six white girls in a room full of African Americans.

The first thing we ate was the red velvet cake. I thought it was a little dry. Not my favorite. A guy came and sat at a smaller table next to us. He was a truck driver, he said. From California. He heard this was the second best BBQ joint in town. He couldn't remember what the name of the best place was.

Our heavy plates came about 10 minutes later. My chicken was so juicy and fell off the bone when I pulled at it with my fork, just a bit. The sweet potato fries were crispy and just sweet enough. The collard greens were a bit bitter - not how I prefer, but they were good just the same.

The yams I swiped from my friend's plate were sticky sweet delicious. The hushpuppies just the right side of spicy and crispy on the outside.

The younger of the two boys behind the counter walked over to our table and stopped right in front of me. "Ma'am, do you mind if I ask you how old you are?"

I hesitantly said that I would be 36 on Monday. "Do you happen to have a younger sister named Chelsea?" I stared at him. Then pointed to my sister Chelsea at the end of the table. "Um yeah - right there." Chelsea's mouth was open. "Nope, that ain't her. It's just that you look so familiar." He shook his head and walked away. Chelsea was stunned. So was I. How weird was it that he asked if I had a sister named Chelsea and that in fact I do have a sister named Chelsea, who was actually sitting at the table, but wasn't the one he was talking about!

I finished my meal, licking my fingers (I think licking fingers goes along with barbeque), and somehow started talking to the guy at the table next to me. I asked him if he liked his meal. He gave me a look that said definitely not, but he didn't say anything. Then he told me a story.

"One time, I was in Mississippi, driving. I went to this restaurant. The food was so good that I ate till I couldn't eat no more, then I ordered a plate to go." He was leaning towards me - enjoying the storytelling and using his hands to emphasize his words. I was completely ignoring my friends at this point.

"I gave the waitress a tip and then I told her to give some to the cook as well. She said, 'give it to her yourself.' So I sat there and waited for the cook. Then this white lady walked out of the kitchen. I looked around and said 'where's the cook?' She said, 'I'm the cook! We all eat like this down here.' And I tell you, that was a school day for me. That lady took me to school that day. She showed me that it didn't matter what color your skin is."

He told me how he is going to retire in a couple of years and buy a restaurant and serve the best food in the Bay Area. He's going to drop dinner and just serve breakfast and lunch. "Let them cook their own dinner!" He said. The conversation faltered. My friend Laura spotted an untouched plate on his table.

"You didn't eat your hot dog!" she said loudly.

"It's a hot link," he said quietly. "You want it?"

"Sure! I'll take your hot dog."

"It's a hot link," he said again as he handed his plate over to Laura.

One of the guys behind the counter was watching the interaction and hollered over to us, "You want some barbecue sauce with that?" Of course she did.

I'm not normally one for trying a stranger's food, but since he hadn't touched it - I was game. It was good, but admittedly, it was the only hot link I have ever had, so I've nothing to compare it to.

We hung out for a bit longer, watching the Blazer game on the big screen. Some other guy behind us demonstrated scooping up yams with a biscuit and declared it *the* way to eat yams. "This what you gotta do," he said as he stuffed it in his mouth.

Truck driver guy caught his taxi. We headed out and waved goodbye to the guys behind the counter, who waved, asked us if everything was okay and then we stuffed a few bucks in the tip jar.

Yam Yam's Southern Cooking Barbecue on Urbanspoon


Sara said...

Ah, sounds like a fun dining experience. I love the Chelsea part of the story.