Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Trailer Twangin'

Banjos - Painting by Sue Duda
I’ve received lots of positive feedback from my readers, mostly emails from my out-of-town friends and family, drooling about the topic, Tantalizing Trailer Treats. Even my mother is ready to drive down to Austin just to spend a day sampling the trailer fare. My response? “C’mon down!!

Someday we’ll try out new trailer eateries, I promise. But, for now, we’re gung-ho on Ugly Banjos and Bits & Druthers! The other evening, after determining that neither one of us was in the mood to cook dinner, Gene and I returned to the East Side Drive-In for more gourmet-to-go.

Gene needed another fish & chips fix (sans the chips) from Bits & Druthers (he can't get enough of that wonderful, deep-fried haddock), and I wanted to try the “real” Jimmy Cracked Chicken at Ugly Banjos. As you may recall, our first fabulous food fling at these two eateries was during the SXSW Music Festival. The trailer eateries had pared down and, in some cases, modified their menus in expectation of large crowds.

My first observation on our return trip was the East Side Drive-In is much more festive in the evening. Everything is lit up with fancy neon signs, and it’s easier to see inside the trailers as the culinary artists, or hash slingers, whichever applies, are busy at work. Plus, it is much cooler at night.

Surprisingly to me, Matthew Schaefer, co-owner of Ugly Banjos, remembered us as he delivered my order of Jimmy Cracked Chicken to our table. How nice, and what great service! But, I digress. What’s important here is THE FOOD! Oh….my….goodness! If I thought the Jimmy Crack Chicken sandwich I had before was wonderful, this full-blown version of the Jimmy Crack Chicken meal was over-the-top scrumptious!

The cornmeal-crusted chicken breast, served with honey truffle butter, was sliced atop a bed of indescribably delicious hatch green chile macaroni-and-cheese and fresh, spicy collard greens. I ate half the mac and cheese before I made it back to the car.
Let me stress that I never order chicken when I go out to eat. I usually prefer to order items that I wouldn’t normally cook for myself. But, this…Jimmy Crack Chicken…oh my…it plays music on my tongue. The flavors and texture are simply wonderful.

Banjo Sailor - Painting by Chad Elliott
I really will try a different trailer eatery soon, y’all. I promise. But, first I just gotta try Ugly Banjos’ “Mom! The Meatloaf” Sammich and their Chicken Fried Steak. I’ll let you know what I think.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” -- Luciano Pavarotti
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -- Virginia Woolf

Strummin’ Yum, Y’all!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beating Around The Bush

One morning in the not-so-distant past, I was awakened at 5:30 a.m. by the most invasive bird’s song.  Some little bird, who had nested overnight in our front shrub, decided to announce the arrival of a new day, although it wasn’t even daytime yet.

I lay in bed, trying to ignore the trills and chirps of the boisterous birdie, but I began to sense a sinister plot.  We have a love-hate relationship with the birds.  We have a bird feeder out front, so we can view the lovely cardinals and doves.  Gene puts food out in the backyard during the winter for the birds, so they won't starve.  I thrill at the sound of a red-bellied woodpecker working on a tree trunk. But, the grackles poop all over our cars and deck. And, now it was The Austin City Bird Singing Festival at 5:30 a.m. in my front yard.  Isn't there an ordinance against that?!

My need to sleep would not be silenced by the sound. After about 5 minutes, I jolted myself out of bed, pillow in hand, and marched out the front door.  In the dark in my pajamas, I began to beat the shrub with my pillow.  The bird stopped singing.  I had no thought for the condition of the bird’s health, only that the sound would cease.

I returned to bed and snoozed until the sun had risen and it was truly time to get up. My husband thought it was funny that I was so grumpy and insistent to have my early morning hours of slumber.
Before dawn the next day, my little early morning intruder blasted more alarming birdsong out his little beak.  This time, my husband heard it and got up to see what all the ruckus was about.  The first thing Gene did was to turn off the yellow porch light. 

The singing immediately stopped.  Chuckling, Gene returned to bed and told me the bird must’ve thought our porch light was the sun. Turn out the light, the party’s over!

By the way, beating the bird in the bush is not the same thing as beating around the bush. One is much more direct than the other. The likely origin of the phrase, beat around the bush, is derived from early hunting techniques in which unarmed men would walk around the forest beating tree branches and making noise, so as to flush out the prey from the bush. This allowed the hunters to avoid directly approaching the game. The technique was most often used in boar and bird hunting. For boar hunting, this was done primarily as a safety measure due to the razor sharp tusks and the likelihood of a boar charging a hunter. In bird hunting this was to scare the birds from their cover so that hunters could shoot them easily.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” –Miguel Cervantes

"A bird in hand is a certainty, but a bird in the bush may sing.” –Bret Harte

“A singing bird in the bush before dawn may never sing again.” –Grayson Nelson

At My House, the Early Bird Gets the Boot, Y’all!

Artist Credits (in order of appearance):
Bird in the Bush - Barbara York
Bird Flu - Unknown
Girl Screaming with Birds - Unknown
Sleeping Bird Red - Kimberly Palencia
Bird in Bush - Margaret Fane
Bird in Deep Night - Kelly Riccetti
Cat with Dead Bird - Tex Norman