A view from my side.
On the road again. Driving through small towns in the deep south. I happen upon a place that serves chicken. Walking in, hungry and worn out from the road, I expectantly gaze up at the menu. Sure enough…fried chicken livers. Yes, sometimes life dishes up just what the soul needs.
The nice thing about liking a food that so few enjoy anymore is that it is rarely just sitting there under the heat lamps waiting for someone to order up a mess. That means they have to be cooked fresh. Uh huh…I’m ok with that. I question the clerk about the difference between a small and a medium order. The small , I am told, only has about three livers in it. The medium…about half a pound. Oh yeah…I order a medium with fried okra and a Coke. I get my drink and sit down to wait.
I credit my daddy for giving me this appreciation. Growing up, he used to cook up a bunch every now and then, and he and I would sit at the table and eat ’em up. My brother never acquired the taste and my mother, while able to cook them as well, if not better, than my daddy, was not inclined to eat them. Daddy and I would sit and eat, dipping our livers in cream gravy and sipping on our “Co-colas”. In the proper season, we’d have fresh okra, sliced, rolled in cornmeal and sautéed in a pan with butter, onions, salt and pepper. It doesn’t get any better than that.
My livers are done and the clerk brings them to my table. His arrival shakes me out of my memory of a simpler time in my life when my daddy was still alive and my family all lived in the same house. The aromas that filled our kitchen over the years , varied with the season. Much of my life then centered around our kitchen. We would sit at the table and talk while someone cooked. We would share a drink, a plate of food, a couple of slices of pie and conversation about this or that. Even if someone was eating something, like chicken livers, that not everyone ate, it still didn’t keep us from the table, from the conversation, from the time shared as family.
I miss those times. My family is spread around the country now. I live in Birmingham with Son #3. Son #2 is now making his fame and fortune in Nashville, while Son #1 is pursuing life in Seattle. My mother and brother, along with his wife and kids, are in Louisville, KY. My daddy passed in 1994.
Still, some smells…some foods…some sights take me back to a time when all was right with the world. Chicken livers and okra…truly food for my soul.