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My Great America Road Trip – Georgia

July 19, 2020

I woke up on the rainy morning of my imaginary travels to Georgia to learn of the death of the great civil rights leader and longtime Georgia representative, the great John Lewis.  I spent the next couple hours going down the rabbit hole of social media posts celebrating his leadership and bravery and wisdom, which sent me into a bit of an existential spiral about our current leadership (or lack there of).

On Saturday mornings I take a long walk to a pilates studio in the Mid-Beach area of the Miami Beach island (I live in South Beach), an hour private class, and the long walk back. Because of the rain, two thirds of my sanity ritual was impossible. Pilates, though, was good. Every week I can do something I couldn’t do the previous week. If it weren’t for my pandemic imposed shopping dry spell, I could never afford these classes, but boy and I grateful for them. My other Saturday ritual is a zoom brunch with dear friends.

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A scheduling shift meant we had to cancel for this week. We’ll be back next week, and it was an unavoidable and good reason, but still. My day was off to a not great start. We’ve all had those days during this time. A little pandepression. And trying to find something to cook for Georgia did not help it.

I’ve been to the Atlanta airport a lot of times, on they way somewhere fabulous. Most recently in December, 2018, on my way down to Costa Rica to meet my favorite Brits. It’s a great airport, with a very expansive Duty Free shop where I stocked up on champagne for our trip. Georgia itself though, I haven’t spent much time visiting. I was there only once in 1996 for the summer Olympic games. And when I say that, I mean for the closing ceremony only. We had tickets to a few events, but the transportation was so awful that we missed them all. The given to me by a creepy vendor trying to sell me something, and using the tickets as leverage. Don’t remember if I worked with him after that and don’t care, but the idea of going to the Olympics was too exciting to pass up. My friend Angela and I spent a lot of time getting confused by which Martin Luther King Street, Road, Boulevard, we should be on. The closing ceremonies were great with a little John Williams, Gloria Estefan, Faith Hill, Wynton Marsallis, Trisha Yearwood, and so many more. We met medal winners in line for McDonalds, and danced under the fireworks and I started to like Atlanta a bit again.

Once again, I don’t really remember the food, though. What I do know about Georgia are the peaches, and I do love a peach, so in search of fresh, delicious peaches I went. There were none. Other foods of Georgia, it seems are shrimp and grits, but my local grocery didn’t have grits, fried chicken, which didn’t excite me, and boiled peanuts, but I couldn’t find raw peanuts in their shells (I realize that I could plan better and order ingredients in advance, but I won’t be doing that).

So I chose the one thing every Georgian I know loves, but something I never thought I’d eat –pimento cheese. My first step in making pimento cheese was figuring out what pimentos were. They are pretty little heart shaped, very mild, peppers that are often pickled and stuffed in things like olives or lunchmeat. Pimento cheese is made by combining a jar of pimentos, chopped jalapenos, a package of softened cream cheese, a bunch of shredded sharp cheddar, some onion powder, cayenne, and a half a cup of mayo in a blender and pulse til its creamy. The spicy peppery yumminess works well on a nice buttery cracker (hello Ritz!).

I served mine as alongside some fried green tomatoes, which are not Georgian exactly, but are southern, which I made with some of the Arkansas Cavendar’s Greek seasoning and paired with Alabama white barbecue sauce for dipping, and a slice of my Florida roast pork. As I settled into watch the John Lewis documentary Good Trouble. Unknown.jpeg

In the morning, I spread a little on my last tortilla from Arizona, added a bit of Florida pork, and some scrabbled egg and had the most wonderful breakfast chimichanga.

In my little way, I feel like I honored John Lewis by crossing the boundaries and combining our countries flavors.

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