Month: January 2010

"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES

The Southern Smackdown Part Two: So Nero, Yet So Far…

Arriving in Memphis after our three-hour mini road-trip from Nashville – via a bizarre lunch stop at Loretta Lynn’s diner and the world’s most racist, wi-fi enabled gift shop – it was time, apparently, for more food.
Sarah was keen for Peter and me to experience her favourite fried chicken place – Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken – and more importantly to compare it with Princes in Nashville. Comparing like for like was tricky, given that I’d had to experience Princes’ chicken reheated in a hotel room microwave, following my enforced Chicago stop over. My feeling, acknowledging the unfairness of the comparison, is that Gus’s chicken was considerably less spicy and, by a nose, slightly more delicious. But only slightly.

What really clinched it or Gus’s, though, was dessert: a local specialty called ‘Chess Pie’. Apparently – and this comes from Wikipedia so you know it’s true – the dish was so named because the woman who invented it was once asked “what kind of pie is this?” to which she answered “it’s jus’ pie”. Which became ‘jess pie’ which became ‘chess pie’. It’s stories like that which earn a restaurant – and a town – valuable extra points.

But the excitement of Chess Pie soon paled in comparison to checking in to the Madison Hotel: no sooner had we dropped our bags than we were turfed back on to the streets because the building’s lifts elevators were on fire.…


The Southern Smackdown Part One: No Sugar No Cinn, No Butter No Whip

Like all the best ideas, the Southern Smackdown found its genesis at the bottom of a Champagne glass.

Back in September of last year, Peter LaMotte was in San Francisco for a wedding, and he, Sarah Lacy and I met up for a drink. Peter and Sarah both went to college in Memphis – Sarah’s home town – before Peter headed to business school in Nashville, and so it was somewhat inevitable that before long the two would be fighting about which town was better. That seems to be what Americans do. Particularly when Brits deliberately goad them, knowing how entertaining it will be.

I listened to the back and forth for maybe ten minutes – “Nashville has country music” “Memphis has amazing barbecue” “Nashville has Pottery Barn downtown” “Memphis tries to murder you” – before stepping in with a joke. “You know, this would actually make a great idea for a TV show. Two Americans from competing towns try to convince a Brit that theirs is better”

As is her wont, Sarah saw a ridiculous idea and ran with it. “We should totally do that,” she insisted, firing up the calendar on her Blackberry “let’s arrange it for the week after Christmas when I’m back home anyway.”…


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