Monday, May 09, 2016

Food junkie ~ My column from Sunday's paper

Hello. My name is Rick Watson, and I’m a food junkie. 
I grew up in a family that loved to cook and eat, so they got me hooked early with cathead
biscuits, red-eye gravy, and ham for breakfast. Then for supper, my mama who was one of the food kingpins would dish out plates of fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes. By starting out that young, there was no choice but become a food addict.

Mrs. Postson’s cheeseburgers from Randy’s Cream Cone in Dora didn’t help. At first, I only went there on Saturday night for a “social cheeseburger fix” but it soon went downhill, and I was slipping by after school, and at nights.  

I started mainlining on Thanksgiving Day at Jilda’s house when were first started dating. The turkey with dressing, coleslaw, and sweet potato pie sent me down that slippery culinary slope. Even today I start twitching at the thought of those deviled eggs. I was doomed from the first.

These days my life revolves around food. Jilda and I can be heading out after coffee for appointments in town, and I’ll ask, “Where are we eating lunch?” It’s become a running gag between us, but neither of us would argue that we "really" love food.

When I think back on the places I’ve traveled in my life, the sights, sounds, and smells come to mind, but the memory of the food is etched in my soul like a cheap tattoo. 

The first time we traveled to New York City, we sat on a bench in Central Park and ate hot dogs we bought from a street vendor. The next day we found ourselves in Chinatown. When we stopped a pedestrian and asked them for directions to a good place to eat, he looked at us as if we were aliens. Well, in a sense we were aliens, but he swept his hand around and said, “Pick one, they are all good.” 

We asked one other person, and she stepped to the corner and pointed to a stairway going to a second-floor Chinese restaurant. None of the staff spoke English, and the menus were in Mandarin, so we pointed to pictures of dishes that looked good. We sat by a window and watched people on the street below. The aroma of shallots, ginger and garlic was a harbinger of the meal they prepared for us in the tiny kitchen. It was the best Asian food we’ve ever eaten.

Back in the mid-1980s, we spent a lot of time with our friends Tom and Judy. He’d gotten word about a place in the sticks that served excellent food.
One Saturday evening after a hard day’s play on the river, we set out on a journey to Fayette County for Berry Chicken. 

We drove narrow back roads for miles before coming to a house. Tom hit the blinker and turned. “Do they know we’re coming for supper?” I asked. As it turns out, Berry Chicken was a cinderblock building behind the brick house, and there were no tables inside. We went up to the window, gave them our order, and a little while later they handed out a quarter (or half) chicken on a paper plate with a napkin on top and wrapped in pages of the Tuscaloosa News.

Someone in the backseat asked about the nearest place to buy beer. The lady told us they had beer in the back. Apparently the front of the building was in Fayette County, which was dry at the time, but the rear part of the building was in Tuscaloosa, which was wet, and they sold beer so cold it would crack your teeth. We were in heaven.

Our buddy George Deavours told us that Arnold and Blanch Swindle, who owned Berry Chicken, had both passed away, and the place went out of business in the 90s. I was saddened to hear this.

I’d like to say that I’ve conquered the food addiction, but the truth is I’d walk to Fayette County for a plate of Berry Chicken right now.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Changes is available on You can contact him via email at


  1. Ah, dirty water NYC vender hot-dogs. They snap when you bite and they squirt in your mouth, I don't want to know what they are made of, but they do taste good. China Town or Little Italy, there are no bad restaurants. Love the "dry county" in front, beer in the back!

  2. I know what you mean about food. First it looks so pretty. Then it tantalizes with the smells. You take some on the fork and put it in your mouth. That is where you enjoy the texture and begin to chew. As the food rolls in your mouth the flavors awaken. Eventually you swallow and it feels so good in your stomach. It is easy to be addicted.

  3. I loved this post. You guys are more adventurous than we with the food in China Town, you done good. Of course you cannot beat your mama's breakfast, 'twas about the same in my mama's kitchen. love them biscuits and red-eye gravy!
    This is an enjoyable entry. hint: YOu probably will never become a former addict!

  4. Anonymous12:03 AM

    You had me at the biscuits!!

  5. I've never travel as much as you two have but still I'd have to say I love to eat and love most any kind of good food. It's wonderful that so many of our meals are connected to some good memories.

  6. As you might have guessed I've struggled with food all my life, but I'm just now getting a handle on it and I'm eating less and only when hungry, but the4 food you describe does sound delicious.

  7. Hi Rick, Welcome to my world.

  8. People like to read about food, watch food and cooking shows on TV - but most of all they like to eat and wash the food down with cold beer or wine.
    Food is one of the great if not the greatest of pleasures in life.
    The food on the plate in the picture looks yummy.

  9. The beginning of your post sounded like you were speaking from a support group-hahahaaa. That is me but with chocolate. I have never been one for loving food and have actually forgotten to eat...not a healthy thing to do. When I have sat a a great place and enjoyed the food, I never forget it. The place out in the boonies sounds like it was a great place and I love it that the back part was in another county

  10. Like E.C. above, you had me at biscuits and gravy.

  11. Great post!!! Got to love our food!

  12. I like my food without it I would be dead can't live without food just saying

  13. I am a foodie too Rick, I have had to curb it over the years as it's loved my hips far too much... it's good to treat ourselves with some of that divine food from time to time xox

  14. I am definitely a foodie but somewhat different food to that you describe. After all I am a European by birth.

  15. I'd never heard of biscuits and gravy until I moved to Ohio. It wasn't on my Mom's breakfast menu anyway! When folks hear I'm heading out to Chicago they always ask about the pizza or the Chicago hot dogs...yep, good food seems to flow around good times. Your post sure has made me hungry but it's too late for a snack now!

  16. Fantastic writing - Coincidentally if others require a a form , We encountered a blank document here


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