Sunday, 27 October 2019

Eating Out

I sat down the other night and was calculating how many different restaurants and cafes I've eaten my 60 years of life.  I would calculate that it's up between 3,500 and 4,500 total.

You have to remember, I've traveled around 70-percent of Alabama, around thirty-two states in the US, Australia, Iceland, Panama, New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai,  South Africa, and twenty-odd countries in Europe.

I've eaten at some absolute terrible places...not worth mentioning.  I've eaten at some airports that I left three-quarters of the meal on the plate.  I've been served French hamburgers that were only 50-percent done (yeah, I left it on the plate).

But along the way, I've eaten at some rather fine places, so this is the list of the top five that made the list.

1.  A mom-and-pop Italian shop in Vittorio Veneto, Italy....that was mostly hidden away and just a doorway leading to a long walk to this shop with just ten tables, run by Italian women all over the age of sixty.  The place had ceiling fans running, and the paint-job was something out of the 1960s (this was 1995).  Everything they served was rich and zesty....freshly made in the past hour.  In the background was some Italian opera music, and the ladies waiting for the slightest hint of something being just a tad wrong.  I was there for just seven days, and ate every night at the same place.

2.  A couple of years ago, I went off to Vienna, and one evening....I really wanted something a bit different, and this thing showed up on Google.....'The Blue Donkey'.  It's way off the street and just about impossible to find.  But here's the thing....they served ribs, the old-fashioned way.  Heavily marinated and cooked over a outdoor grill.  A big patio area was the landscape, with the grill smell in the air, and these ribs ended up being the best I'd ever eaten.

3.  A number of years ago, I went on a trip to the heart of Bavaria and ended up one night eating at a place in Ramsau....deep in the a place called the Gasthof Oberwirt.  It's a combination hotel and restaurant.  I ended up with this gravy-dish with big chunks of marinated beef, and dumplings that made your eyes water.  Afterwards, they brought out this desert plate (a heaping of some apple dish) with freshly home-made ice cream on top.  There in this beer-garden area, in the midst of summer, you could gaze off at the mountains and appreciate a great moment.

4.  In my period in Tucson, Arizona....down the street we had this grill operation called 'Jacks'.  Jacks bar-b-q'ed in some hut around the back of the building, and had some secret recipe for everything.  They did chicken, ribs, and briskets.  They made some kind of charged-up beans with a spiced-up taste. You'd look at the building and think it'd marginally pass any health inspection.  They would actually mount each inspection paper on the wall and always had near 95-percent for the grading.  You'd almost think that nothing had changed in the building since 1955 (this was 1990).

5.  Finally, there's this place on the road road through Athens, Alabama for catfish....called the Catfish Cabin (maybe number II or III).  Between the five star  tea (all you can drink), the hush-puppies, and the's one of the few places left in the world where for $15, you get a fantastic dinner.  Rustic?  Well, yeah, that's probably the flip side of my choices.....I never select fancy dining places.

The Doug and Nancy Story

If you follow Alabama Democratic politics right now....there's a 'war' brewing over the state agenda, and has impact upon the 2020 Democratic convention.

So the head of the state Democratic Party is Nancy Worley....who has a history going back to the state teacher's union.  At age 67, she's the one voted into office as the party chief, back in 2013.

It's safe to say that Worley has a particular view on how Democrats in the state need to proceed.

Along came Jones (a catchy title), Doug Jones, who won the staged election for Senator in November 2017.  Doug believes that the Democrats need to go in a different direction.  Doug has the backing of the national apparatus.  So Doug's people have issued 'orders' to Nancy on how to proceed.  Nancy said no.

An election came up for the Democratic 'head' of the state party, and Nancy won yet again.

Doug's people laid down the 'ace', and cut off national funding....figuring that Nancy would give up, resign, and Doug's people would rebuild the party.

Well....Nancy said no.  She won't resign, and the money be damned.

Now? The national folks say if Nancy doesn't correct all the actions....they will decertify the party, and they can't enter the convention of 2020, or represent the state.

Where this leads onto?  Well....Super-Tuesday is not that far off, and there's some suggestions that it might get real messy for Democrats in the state.

What this really cuts into?  It would appear that Nancy wants Alabama Democratic politics to stay regional, and not have some national influence or anchor attached to it.  Doug's crew wants the national trends to be the focus for Alabama Democrats.

Here's the odd factor....both Nancy and Doug are dragging alone various black political groups and they are staging fronts against each other in the state.  It's entirely possible that come November of could see half the black vote in Alabama....which ought to go to the Democrats entirely (say 90-to-95 percent)....simply stay home because of Doug and Nancy's little war.

Kinda funny to admire.  But all of this really hurts Doug's chances.