Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Downtown Saturday Night

A week or so ago, we happened to head into downtown Nashville for a night on the town. Not something we do a lot for two reasons. 1) it's a bit of a drive and 2) the drunks. For the most part, I don't mind the drive. I ride this very same distance every day to work so it's not really that much of a big deal. The people who feel it necessary to partake of too much* liquor and then drive cause me too many waking nightmares to count, so its best to just keep away from these jerks.

So, anyway, we head into Downtown and discover a whole new realm of idiocy. Now I can go ahead and call this idiocy because I'm sure this happens in every city in our country and then even in such far flung places outside our borders. What idiocy? Parking rates. When did they get so freaking high? We pulled into one and were told the rate was $15. Did you get that? They were charging more than most nightclubs charged for admittance and the parking space didn't even have live music!

Let me add to this idiocy. I went in search of a cheaper spot, found a place with a sign which stated "$5 Parking" but when I went to get out of the car, some guy in an official looking shirt held out his hand and said "fipteen dollah." I pointed out the sign and he repeated "fipteen dollah." Not one to argue, I went in search of another parking place.  I should also point out that I am not against anyone with an accent, but I feel you should be a little more versed in the language than just 'fipteen dollah.'  

My real reason for writing all this down this week is what we found in downtown Nashville that you just cannot find anywhere else. Music. Oh sure you got your music in New Yawk, or El Ay, but nothing like Music City brings to the street. And right there is the true charm of our fair downtown. Along with the high number of clubs and bars with live music (I lost count at 30) the streets are peppered with musicians trying to find their voice, practicing their art, and hoping for a bit of cash.
Broadway near 3rd, Downtown Nashville
As you walk down the wide sidewalks, on one side you have the music from the bars, the open doors to which are as sandwiched so close together that they could nearly all be one place and on the other you have the street musicians. Guitar players abound, but there are also a high number of accordions, brass and even a few drummers. Add to this a mix the sounds of the traffic which includes horse drawn carriages and you have a concert you cannot find elsewhere, all within a 4 block radius. '

It's no wonder that the city closes 2nd avenue to traffic at 10 pm. The whole 2nd avenue venue right outside the Hard Rock Cafe and just a few doors down from the Wild Horse Saloon becomes one big party. You can find just about any music to your liking here just wander along and listen at the door or better yet, grab your partner and dance in the street.

Music city. Like none other and only found in the South...for fipteen dollah.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A vote for Basil is a Vote for...

The south has a long and storied history when it comes to politics. A lot of presidents have been from the south - I personally live within a mile and a half of Andrew Jackson's Hermitage Home - as well as state and local legends. But in recent years, it is not the good politicians which remain in memory, it is the more colorful and ok, let's say it - those who are less than stellar. Bill Clinton may have been president, but Monica Lewinsky will forever cement him in our collective conscience.

Tennessee is far from the bottom of the list when it comes to cementing a memory. A few years back some state senators were indicted in the now infamous 'Tennessee Waltz Sting". But let's talk really recent.
Meet Basil Early in the primary for Tennessee Governor, a local TV station gave each candidate two minutes to explain their platforms. This stocky former Recon Marine introduced himself by saying "I'm Basil, the Republican candidate for governor." I can't make stuff like this up!

Among's ideas were to force everyone to carry a gun, advocated the planting of grass on all vacant lots in the state to sell for gas and doing away with all traffic stops. Later, in his "official ad" where he wanted to "do my issues" he stated that he wanted to 'Make yous all more freer." Among those issues were, and I'm again not making this up: Move the capital of the state from Nashville to Chattanooga as a method of cleaning house, getting rid of "all the back room politic that ruined our politic program in Tennessee" and removing the gold fringe from all flags to "make the flag fly right."

I could go on stating other plans such as how he wanted to send anyone who LOOKED "Mexican" south of the border, but if they had a Green Card, they could be allowed to return. The vote was last week, and the fact of the matter is that he lost the primary. Yes, lost. Amazing isn't it? He even made it on two respectable (?) national news (?) shows, The Colbert Report and Jimmy Kimmel Live but he still didn't get enough votes to move on to the main campaign.

Sure, you live someplace like New York, or Chicago and have odd politics - even memorable politics, but without a Basil in your history, you just have no idea. Only the South can give you that!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Louisiana Turtle Burgers

Whenever there is nothing to watch on TV, we end up surfing over to the Food Network and watch a few shows there. I love unique cooking but I also really don't like watching some show tell me how to make a dish of food which you can only find in outer Mongolia. I like finding out new ways to cook the foods I already have handy.

Now, recently, I got this letter from my sister which included a recipe (with the accompanying photo above) for some Turtle Burgers. Louisiana Turtle Burgers (pronounced 'loo-zee-'ă -nuh.) In fact, the original title was "Coon Ass"* Turtle Burgers" but I cannot see a Cajun making a plain burger with only cheese and Hot Dogs. If anything, these were made by some Nawthunah and given the name in order to give the dish some sort of pedigree. A real Cajun Dish would have some cajun seasoning, at the very least. And let's face it, when have you EVER seen a Cajun dish with store bought hot dogs and NOT Cajun Sausage?

The last thing which causes me to question the Suthun origins of this dish are the instructions. It strangely states
Hand-made ground beef patties, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, then the next step, add hotdogs as the heads, legs with slits for toes and tail.

If you tried to stick those bits of hot dogs into the burgers AFTER they are formed, they will fall right off. (And no, look closely, there are no toothpicks, glue or other foreign matter holding those bits in place. The burned ends you see are the 'formed' feet and toes of the 'turtle.')

My Suthun neighbor, Bubba (aka Lord Of All Things Barbeque), saw this picture and made them up for a weekend get together. He said the best way to make sure 'them legs an' all' stay where they belong during cooking is to "Cut the hot dog in half, and lay all the pieces on top of a flat burger so that they have as much hot dog on the burger as sticking out. Add a ball of hamburger on top and press it down, thus holding the hot dogs in place as you form the 'turtle.' THEN add the cheese and bacon weave." (Bubba Knows Burgers..)

Lastly, the email recipe says to
  "Place on an oven rack, covered loosely with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. A little crispy, not too crunchy...just how a turtle should be, no?" (Gotta love that "Cajun speak" ending there.)

Bubba agreed with the cooking time, and stated that on a grill the legs, head and tail might burn up before the burger was done, so a little 'aluminium' (Bubba pronunciation guide: al-you-MIN-ee-um) foil wrapped around the head and legs might prevent this. Baking, however, seems to be the best idea.  (Like a broken clock, even Nawthunaz are right once in a while.) But the big mistake here is to put them right on an oven rack! Without something to catch the grease from the meats, your oven will be a mess. A broiling pan works best here which will allow the grease to fall away from your 'turtles' as they cook and not mess up your lovelyl appliance.

Neighbor Bubba also suggested a 'touch' of Cajun seasoning in the hamburger, or a bit of memphis barbeque sauce on the bun. Again, Bubba knows burgers.

If you are from some place NAWTH of the Mason-Dixon, you can eat them plain, but don't call them Cajun Turtle Burgers or Louisiana Turtle Burgers. Whatever you call them, if you make some, be sure to let me know how they turned out!


*Coonass, or Coon-ass, is used in reference to a person of Cajun ethnicity. Many consider it an epithet but others consider it a compliment or badge of honor. Not being cajun, I hesitate to use it, and therefore change the name of the burgers to CAJUN Turtle Burgers. It's what any good suthunah would do.