Saturday, June 4, 2016

Getting to Know Columbus, Mississippi

Out and About Town

Part of the seduction of Mississippi is the town of Columbus where I chose to buy a house. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision, and while I've only been here about eight total days, six of which were spent without furniture, I've managed to get acquainted with quite a few (very) friendly people. On the first day I had an opportunity, I visited Columbus's Farmer's Market. They are only open for two hours (8 to 10) on Mondays and Saturdays and longer on Thursdays.

Since I had no cooking utensils, yet, I bought a ripe tomato at the farmer's market and a loaf of delicious sour dough bread. This went with the deli turkey and cheese I bought at the local Kroger's grocery. I liked the farmer's market and figured I would have to return there on a Thursday for what promises to be a fuller selection of vendors. Further, as the summer gets into full swing, I am certain there will be more vegetables and fruits. I uncovered my wok just this evening, and so when I return to the market, I can buy some small squash, which should go really well in my chicken wok recipe.

Also on Monday night I attended the MUW (Mississippi University for Women) MFA writing program, student/faculty reading. I returned there on Friday night when two of the featured writers were Deborah Johnson and Allen Wier.

On a Thursday night, a week to the day of my arrival, I attended a fiddle concert at the Columbus Arts Council. The Columbus Arts Council appears to be very active with gallery events, musical entertainment, and other activities. On Tuesday, June 14, I will attend my first meeting of the writers/story-tellers group at the Arts Council. This is something I have been looking forward to for several months, just waiting until I could move here to join. Since I am a writer and have been a book editor for over 35 years, I feel I can contribute well to the group that meets, and they can teach me about being one of those legendary Southern Writers that seems to emerge from Mississippi and the deep south to woo and transfix readers all over the United States.

How much more down home can you wish for?
The food is excellent and basic.
And of course during the last eight days of my residency, here, I have discovered locally owned restaurants, the kind of eatery I prefer over the chain restaurants (which are also abundant here in Columbus). The first diner is the Ranch House diner out east on Main street, just about 3 miles from my house. It opens at 5:30 a.m. and is now open until 3 p.m. There you can get the most scrumptious down-home breakfasts, and it's where many locals hang out for grits and jawing about many affairs.

As soon as you walk through these rustic doors, you're
treated to the sounds and smells of sizzling steaks right at
the entrance.
This evening, Saturday, June 4th, I ate at another highly rated locally owned restaurant, called Old Hickory Steak House. I am specific about the date, because I had the opportunity to stand in line waiting for a table and visit with people coming in for some baseball happening at MSU (Starkville) that seemed to involve Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. I had the opportunity to listen to the southern accents from three different states, all in the same line. I have to take my steaks very rarely, because it's an extravagance, but I can assure you that when I have guests come from out of town, that will be one of the places I want to take them to. Columbus is one of the places where out-of-towners like to fill the hotels and motels when there're happenings at MSU Starkville.

Now, my meal was just plain surprising...yes, a salad comes with the meal, but the surprising thing is the tubs of dressings they set on the table. You have a choice of bleu cheese, thousand island, or ranch dressing.

Now, come on...! You don't see this sort of generosity in a chain restaurant. And it's up to you if you want to go easy on the dressing or drown your greens in it. I of course tried bites of all three dressings; each was equally delicious.

Nor are the portions you can choose from their entrees any less generous. I ordered a small ribeye, and it was 10 oz of pure, cooked-to-perfection beef. Of course, I made myself eat only half of it, so that I could take some back to be reheated in my wok. There's only one remaining slice of sourdough bread from the farmers market to go with the steak and baked potato.

I've discovered that starting a household from scratch can be costly and time consuming, so I'm going to have to stretch my dollars as best I can, but I can't think of a better way to do that than to bring home half of each meal that I eat at a restaurant. I did the same thing the other night when I ate at Little Dooie's BBQ place.

I've had a pretty full week, but watch for my next postcard from Mississippi on an entirely different topic about Mississippi, its people, its culture, its history, and that which is progressive and open.

No comments:

Post a Comment