Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hidey Holes and Local Folks

Columbus, Mississippi Slowly Revealing Itself

As of this writing, I have lived in Columbus, Mississippi, for almost eight months. In some ways it feels like I've just arrived; in other ways it feels like home to me. My house is familiar, although I'm still discovering little things to repair or thoroughly clean. I'm still stunned that surfaces don't gather dust the way they do in southern New Mexico.

Let's call this Airline Road, although it
could also be Bell Avenue.
As for Columbus, itself, parts of the town are intimately familiar to me now, but I'm still discovering little hidey holes, small locally run business in unexpected places, and even more cafes and watering holes that I discover from just taking different streets I haven't been down, yet. It's a bit confusing sometimes, because it seems that Columbus has a penchant for giving several names to streets that are also highways, or along a street, part of it might be one name, while another part might be another name...I know. That's the mystery and discovery that often confuses. On the way to a cafe a neighbor told me about the other day, I took her directions, and ended up on either Airline Road or Bell Avenue. I'd been this way before to get my driver's license. The road passes by an animal shelter, a city or county jail, across a creek, and finally intersects with Highway 69. A strip of it has over-arching trees, and it's one of the delights of discovery that constantly surprises me.


Cafe Unique in what must have been a
residence at one time.
There are at least eighty-four restaurants in Columbus, although I'm sure that includes everything from locally owned to chain restaurants to fast-food joints. But the total number is always shifting as it does anywhere, so who really knows the tally? A couple of days ago I discovered (actually my neighbor told me) a locally owned Southern food cafe called Cafe Unique. It's at 94 Airline Rd and intersects with Highway 69. Cafe Unique sits on a corner of the intersection. Yes, it looks like a home was converted to the restaurant, and that's okay, that makes it one of the delightful places to experience a great meal. I've also heard about another great place to get beer and sandwiches somewhat out on the edge of town, a place called Proffit's Porch. Maybe later. And none of this involves the kind of eateries I suspect are on the other side of the Tom Bigbee waterway. Maybe one of my posts will actually be a list of all the home-grown cafes in town.

But back to Cafe Unique...

I had the turkey, lima beans, sweet potato casserole, cornbread, Southern sweet tea, and for dessert homemade pecan pie. The servings were so large that I have made three meals out of that visit. I will go again on a Friday for the catfish. There were only two people running the place, which appeared to be a mother and son. They were both friendly and politely indulged my gushing about moving here from the desert, discovering I love catfish, and other bits of conversation. But I mean, really, I was delighted with this place, just as I have been with other eateries around town.

I passed up the chance to try the pig's feet, okay? I just might one of these days, but not now. The meal, which included a meat and two sides, as well as cornbread and sweet tea was a whopping $7.33, so I can stretch my dining-out dollars, because I'm sure I can leave with leftovers. I cut up what was left of the turkey and alternately had some of it, along with the lima beans in a white rice dish, and there was even enough of the chopped turkey, to which I added sweet peas to dress up a Ramen Noodles bowl. I didn't claim I was always eating healthy, but nonetheless I've trimmed down three belt notches.

On the west side of Columbus, Mississippi is the Tom Bigbee River, which connects to the Tennessee River and is sometimes called the Tenn-Tom waterway. Here's a rather quaint video explaining the importance of this waterway system. North of here, in Aberdeen, MS, the waterway was a good way to move cotton; today, it's even more commercially viable in Columbus, with their lock and dam system. Some readers might find this video interesting. To me it's just another discovery about my chosen home.

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