So we finally did it - my classmates and I finished med school about 2 weeks ago, and what better way to celebrate than with a trip down south to pig-out on some good 'ol home-cookin'? My friends Daniella, Anna, and I decided to cruise into Confederate-country (a first for all of us) in Anna's tiny Toyota Yaris to experience how the other half lives (the half on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line).
We made a stop in a town called Pigeon Forge where we did some horseback riding and hiking to counter-balance the calories we were shoving into ourselves. One of the major calorie culprits was lunch at a place called Mama's Farmhouse where the menu changes daily according to "Mama's" mood and the cuisine is intended to reflect the typical southern staples. Mama's is so authentic that the sodas come in jars!!! Ok just kidding - when I got excited about this at the restaurant I was informed by Daniella that a bunch of bars in NYC do this too.
On the day we were there, the menu consisted of fried chicken and chicken-fried-steak entrees: (I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken-fried-steak since most of my previous experiences with that dish resulted in consumption of gallons and gallons of water to wash away the excessive salt that it is often over-seasoned with. At Mama's Farmhouse they must be pretty blood pressure conscious since they played it safe with the sodium)
The sides included corn pudding (my favorite out of all the dishes - it was pretty much creamed corn that was thickened with some other additives that I can't name since I know almost nothing about cooking):
The other sides were mac and cheese (a little bland despite the dusting of black pepper), mashed potatoes with gravy (I didn't actually taste this because I'm not normally a fan - I personally like my potatoes in the form of fries), collard greens (not pictured here because they aren't a very photogenic vegetable - the ones at Mama's Farmhouse were mediocre, although I may also be biased as they aren't anywhere near my favorite vegetable at baseline), and kidney beans (also not pictured here because I hate beans and had them placed as far away from me as possible. In fact, I think Mexican food would be a zillion times better if it wasn't so bean-happy)
For dessert we had two options: peach cobbler which Daniella and Anna both loved (I was too full at this point to make much progress with mine, although I DID succeed in finishing off all the vanilla-bean ice cream that came with it)
and banana pudding - which was very rich. They were very generous with the cream and this made it DELICIOUS - probably as good as the banana pudding at Magnolia's Bakery here in NYC but at a fraction of the price.
One of the things that struck my attention about the South is how strangely friendly everyone was. That and the fact that Daniella and I were the only two Asian people in all of Pigeon Forge. I do not exaggerate - we were the ONLY ASIANS and I know this because I was on the look-out. How is this possible you may ask? How is this possible when my people make up about 75% of the world's population?
Anyway, everywhere we went, random strangers - whether on the street, in our hotel, or at restaurants - would greet us with the question: "Where ya'll gals from?" Here in the city that question either comes from sketchy dudes trying to pick you up at a bar, or else from the homeless dudes outside Bellevue's men shelter who want to ask for money. In the south however, the people are genuinely interested, friendly, and most of the time just trying to make polite conversation. My response (which has become second-nature after 4 years of living in NYC) - consisting of a half-smile and curt nod - did not go over well, especially in comparison to Anna and Daniella who were much more willing to humor them with a real answer.
The exception to my rudeness was towards the waiter at Mama's, who was a jolly old dude in overalls. I have a soft-spot for old people, and this guy in particular was so sweet that being cold towards him would probably be akin to drowning a dozen kittens in the eyes of Karma. Even more quaint than the wait-staff in farm-attire though was the out-door farm machinery and Mama's reminder to "Stay off my truck and tractor."
Overall rating: 5.0/10.0