Friday, April 23, 2010

Meat me in Southwest Georgia

Mosey into many of the small towns in the Southeast (or nationwide, I'm sure), and the obligatory speed traps along state and local highways will force you to stop and look around. Beyond the Hardee's, McDonald's, and Subway (at EVERY exit and in EVERY small town), one will notice local- and often very odd- eateries and fooderies (new word, yo) along the way.

Sorry I said "yo". It won't happen again.

With all due respect to two of my favorites: Bate's House of Turkey in Greenville, AL (a full-on, Thanskgiving-style turkey dinner right off the exit on I-65) and Gresham Bar & Grill, Disco, and Auto Sales in Athens, GA (no explanation necessary), there's a Chevron gas station in Warwick, GA that offers just a little more than a full tank:

I get goosebumps every time I read that slogan. Genius is not flattering enough of a word. But Stripling's is much more than a convenience store...

And when have you ever walked into a gas station and seen this?

Full service butcher shop? Okay, not good enough for you? How 'bout this?

Homemade pickles of endless providence (watermelon rind being a particularly regional delicacy)? You got it, sport. But, perhaps you're looking to step up your road trip noshing to Bourdain-esque levels...

A patchwork of salty pig parts! Just throw it on the radiator, and in no time, you've hit flavor country, my friend. Nothing gets that gas pedal moving like a belly full of Souse.

In all seriousness, Stripling's has a 40 year+ tradition of sausage making and butchery. This location opened in 1991, and if you do find yourself in Southwest Georgia (in particular, on GA 300 between Cordele and Albany), and you've got a powerful hunger for something to snack upon, it really is hard to beat an RC Cola and a bag of their homemade beef jerky. Salty, chewy (but not tooth-loss chewy), without a hint of overdone liquid smoke or artificial flavors you can find in commercial beef jerky. Maybe if I were in the passenger seat, I'd have to crack a bottle of smoky Argentine Malbec or Spanish Rioja to go with a pound of this magic. Kudos to Hudson from Two Friends Imports for turning me onto Stripling's jerky.

Indeed, walking around in here, the folks were giving me weird looks for taking photos of meat. I get it a lot. Perhaps they don't think too much of a chubby guy snapping shots of food...

...or maybe they realize that I simply never sausage a place.

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