Mar 30, 2011

For the love of barbecue

At 17th Street Bar and Grill, O'Fallon, Ill. location ... the creamed corn alone makes the whole trip worth it!

I think barbecue may just be the perfect food.  Between the meats, the slow-cooked smokiness and the variations on the sauce (which, by the way, should be optional – the best barbecue tastes just fine without it), every good barbecue is a memorable experience. 
My love for barbecue began with a rib joint named Fantasia that was within walking distance of my apartment when I was a student at Western Illinois University.  The owners had relocated from Chicago and turned an old Kentucky Fried Chicken into barbecue nirvana.  The sauce was perfect for dipping French fries into, and the beef ribs are still the moistest I’ve ever had.  Sadly, Fantasia is long gone.  Underappreciated by the locals, I suppose.

Mar 22, 2011

Was Pinetop Perkins the last of the original Delta bluesmen?

Pinetop Perkins died Monday, March 21, at the ripe age of 97.   Aside from having a really cool name, you might ask why this should matter so much to music lovers like myself.  Well, everyone who knows anything about blues music knows B.B. King, and he said, “He was one of the last great Mississippi Bluesmen.  He had such a distinctive voice, and he sure could play the piano. He will be missed not only by me, but by lovers of music all over the world."

Mar 15, 2011

How I Got Here

My earliest childhood memories are from being raised by my grandparents in Angie, La., a tiny community surrounded by sawmills and the Pearl River, nestled in the toe of the state.  My grandmother ran the local drive-in (that’s a local fast-food joint), while I stayed home with my grandfather when I wasn’t in school. 
Sometimes, my grandfather would get bored, and he’d decide to take the old tractor-green pickup truck out to roam the countryside.  I would ride shotgun.  We didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, but that’s what made it all an adventure … to see what was out there.  We’d even create place names for every wide spot in the road where some activity was taking place.  Milkville was obviously where the dairy farm was.  Lumberton was the location of the saw mill at the edge of town. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...