When I think about my visit to Tennessee several years ago, three things come to mind: the music (both present and past), the whiskey (or bourbon, to be more specific) and the biscuits (yes, biscuits get a category all their own).
My friend, Enza, and I went to Nashville to visit our friend, Nancy, who was living there at the time. It was only for a three-day weekend, so it was a whirlwind of a trip, but a good whirlwind. I was pursuing my songwriting endeavors during that time, so I was excited to soak up the history and energy of Music City. We had a blast checking out Honky Tonk Row in downtown Nashville, catching a Will Hoge show at the Mercy Lounge on Cannery Row and driving into Memphis to visit Graceland and enjoy an afternoon listening to live music on the famous Beale Street. Whether it was the legacy of past and current musical legends or the dreams of aspiring musicians hoping to one day become one of those legends, there was something in the air I could actually feel. It was the reason why I found being there so irresistible: the energy was undeniable.
I can’t help but reminisce about that trip, because besides having a great time with friends, enjoying the live music scene isn’t something I’ve been able to do much of over the last couple of years. And then of course, there was the bourbon whiskey. This was back in the day when I could still enjoy a cocktail or two (unfortunately, my Crohn’s/autoimmune condition makes all alcohol a no-no these days), and much to my friends’ dismay, whiskey had just recently become a favorite choice of cocktail for me (apparently it’s an acquired taste, and I had acquired it). There’s just something about the south that says, “C’mon y’all, have a bourbon!” So I did. And it was good.
Meanwhile, there was the food. Despite the fact that I couldn’t find a leafy green vegetable to save my life (I’m sure there were some; we just didn’t happen to dine at those places), I think the food was one of most memorable parts of the trip. No, I wasn’t Paleo back then (my illness hadn’t progressed to the point where I’d realized I needed to make any major dietary changes yet), so it meant enjoying just about any of the southern culinary treats my heart desired. Sure, I could rave about the pulled pork, or even my first trip to White Castle (please don’t judge me; as a west coast native, I had to try it…and we may or may not have gone through the drive-thru twice…). But my favorite treat of all? The biscuits from the Loveless Cafe. And what’s not to love? Perfectly baked, buttery, flaky biscuits topped with sweet honey or fresh jam. It was all of my favorites (bread, butter and sugar!) rolled into one delectable symphony of flavor dancing playfully on my tongue. I really didn’t need any other food group; I probably could have eaten those biscuits for every meal while I was there. Sure, now one of those biscuits would send me straight to the emergency room; but back then, ignorance was bliss. And now that I’m gluten-free, it’s one of the things I miss dearly. As much as it would be fun to try to come up with a recipe for a Paleo substitute, this is one of those foods in which I just can’t imagine anything else ever measuring up. So instead, those biscuits are now a mere treasured memory, tucked away safely in my mind, reminiscent of a simpler, far more liberated (and very delicious) time in my life. Biscuits: you are truly “the one that got away.”
Even though we only had three days in Tennessee, they were three really special days. There were still some places I didn’t get to visit (like The Bluebird Cafe or The Grand Ole Opry), but I guess that means I’ll just have to make sure they’re on the itinerary for next time. Sure, it might be a bit of a different experience — no whiskey or biscuits for me this time around (wait…why am I going back again?), but something tells me it will still be a blast.
Until next time, Tennessee.