Poor, Poor Honky

As much as Alison and i try our best to make the most valid decisions concerning our lives, sometimes we are weak. First let me explain something---something that maybe most folks don't do. I don't know. Alison and me, being born when and where we were, as children of Watergate and at the birth of postmodernism, view EVERYTHING through the lens of politics and morality...A mishmash of politics and morality. So: Eating, then, is a political act--and that's what this post is sorta about. That and the fact that when it comes to food, Alison and i are morally/politically weak.

As a prelude to the real meat of this post i have this quick, somewhat related, anecdote:

Last night we went to a sushi restaurant. As i have come to see sushi as politically/morally suspect, I have started to wean myself from eating it. Still, i eat it all the time. (I'm probably going to a place in hell reserved for people that confuse their politics and morality and were born aroung the time of Watergate and postmodernism.) Anyway, I've developed a relationship with my sushi guy and his family. They know me and like me. They know i like mackerel. They know i eat alone. And mostly always at lunch time. They know the reason for this: That my wife doesn't like sushi as much as i do, so i just come get it for myself, by myself.

Well, last night Alison and i went in there together. When we walked in, the woman (i haven't been there long enough to ask names yet) says excitedly, Oh! This is your wife! You have brought this beautiful woman to have sushi! She is here to eat sushi, and she is so...SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

She was obviously smitten. So, i stepped back and took a look at what she was seeing: Alison looked particularly lithesome last night. Her hair was shiny and the curls were falling particularly well, framing her good-lookin' face and clear, blue eyes. Smart and sexy all at the same time.

of course that woman was smitten with her.

Okay. On with the title of this post: Poor, Poor Honky. While I was eating my sushi we saw some news on the television concerning Chris Rock's mother in a lawsuit with Cracker Barrel (or, as is it called by the Piepmeier kids: the Honky Cracker, or just "the Honky" for short--hence the title of this post). The case concerns racial discrimination--and isn't really newsworthy, but that's not the point.

Poor, Poor Honky! The Honk started out in Lebanon, Tn back when i was kid. Lebanon is just 40 minutes from Nashville, but it's a shitkicker town mostly. I've known folks that've known some of the Cracker-owning people and said that they also are of the shitkicker variety. For years now The Crack has been plagued by bad press for not hiring gay people, for not promoting black folks above the postion of dishwasher, etc. (And yet Alison and i continue to eat there. I feel the flames of that special hell licking at my toes even now. But where is one to go for good beans and greens or country fried steak when you're in Massachusetts?)

Anyway, here's my thought: I'm almost sure that the Honk inadvertantly practices all these forms of discrimination. Like the Republican Party, The Honky Barrel doesn't do it on purpose. It isn't really a vast right wing conspiracy: it's just plain old ig-no-ra-moose. But gee whiz, man, with a name like The freakin' CRACKER Barrel you might as well just hang a target on yourself. (I've heard that in South Carolina they wanted to call it the Strom Thurmond Barrel.)


Aaron said...

Not to ignore the "Honky" situation, but....what are your political/moral views on sushi?

Walter said...

Back when i went to koto in Nashville, Haji told me that he went every morning, at dawn, to the Nashville airport, to pick the best fish off an airplane, that had just arrived from japan.

If that's the case with all good sushi restaurants, then think about all that freakin' jet fuel--especially to land-locked places like Las Vegas and Denver, etc--just so people can have fish that's fresh enough to eat raw.

That's wasteful. Besides, for our best health, we should be eating what our local environments produce anyway.

Aaron said...

ahhh... I understand.

However, you can apply that same logic to how we get most of our food (unless we farm or buy from local farmers markets).

For people that still go to super markets, eat at ANY restaurant, or drive a car... a Sushi restaurant is probably your BEST moral/political choice.

The respect the the chefs give their food and the amount of caring that the workers show the customers makes sushi the best restaurant choice (Also I'm certain that raw fish is the healthies meat choice out there).

But, I can see where you're coming from. I glad that I don't have to order mass amounts of papers and plastics for customer to throw away anymore.

Trey said...

Nice touch with the reference to the peg game. (ig-no-ra-moose)

Anonymous said...

I live in Cleveland, OH and always feel a little guilty when I go to eat in Little Italy (a small ethnic community in Cleveland). The neighborhood is full of authentic Italian food, original art, folk instruments and groovy coffee shops. However, this neighborhood is known as being racist and blacks are afrad to go there. (One black woman was dragged out of her car and beaten for just driving through.) I love the food and art - but I really should boycott. Thanks for the inspiration. Maybe I should start calling Little Italy, Italian Honk. FYI - I don't believe in 'hell' - but I do believe in supporting tolerance. - S.

Matthew said...

On a personal note... the first time I ever had sushi was with Walter and Alison at Koto many, many... many many years ago. I was terrified. I have been hooked ever since. ha. hooked. sorry.

As for the moral issue... most of the fish you eat in a sushi restaurant has been frozen. Any shellfish has been frozen (part of the safety process). Modern blast freezing processes are very efficient, do no damage to the cell structure of the fish, and the freezing is often done on the boat. This is a good thing. Think about that fish that the chef from Koto picked up from BNA. If it came from Japan... I know that, because economics and regulatory stressors, there are very few 'day boats'. (fish during the day, cleaned and shipped by night). Thus, the boat that caught your yellowtail was probably out for three to seven days, during which time your spicy tuna was on ice. Allow time for processing and the half-a-world trip to Music City, and you're eating six-eight day 'fresh' fish. The blast freezing process stops that aging process and, unlike the slow freezing method, doesn't turn the cell structure to diffuse poo. The benefits of this are many, but ultimately it means that the chefs are getting their fish on the freezer truck from their regular distributor, not FedEx. They will certainly refrain from telling you this, but it is true. I'm not saying that all the fish has been frozen, but the best pieces have. Most of the regs come from farm sites here on the East Coast or Hawai'i. My one and only point is... many chefs are moving towards more efficient shipping methods to reduce cost and maintain integrity. So... don't feel too bad. Enjoy. Jiust make sure you eat with someone you trust and is willing to share with you their methods.

Otherwise, I agree with Aaron. Oh, and next time you go to White Privilege Barrel would you see of they have 'Crazy Redneck Santa' statuettes on the shelf yet? Thanks.

R2K said...

: )

Walter said...

Da-uumm Silvey! I thought you were up there gettin' a degree in social work--not fish freezing.

Anonymous said...

haha - You don't have to be black to be ignored and get bad service at Cracker Barrel. This I have discovered first-hand all over the south.

My favorite Cracker Barrel memory is the time we had just sat down and the table next to us politely inquired of the waitress about the curious color of their ham. We left and havn't been back since.

Matthew said...

Fish freezing is a very important aspect of the helping process. In order to help the fish, we have to start where the fish is.

Actually, I spent four years working for a ginormous food distribution company in Atlanta. Among other things, we moved fresh and frozen fish- some of which was very high-end. Since I worked downtown (not out in what was ironically known as the 'Cracker Barrel Belt'), I got a lot of experience with those products. Plus, I'm obsessed with Sushi. This is your fault.

Jeremy said...

I think they have the best pancakes in the casual restaurant business. I told Dea that they cook them with a little lard, but it's really butter. I had a craving this past weekend so we drove over the mountain to visit our closest CB.

Also, anonymous, the people at the table next to you were probably served country ham; it is always best if it's a little green around the edges.

Walter said...


you are oh so right about the pancakes. i would go so far as to claim they have the finest pancakes in the world.

Trey said...

No more seafood by 2050?