Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pressed Ham and Interstate Surprise

Note: As my house is shrouded in the frozen embrace of winter, I yearn for the golden shores of Florida. Much like my Aunt May, as she continues her trip down I-95...

    We managed to go for quite some time without stopping.  Before we left Virginia, I bought a couple of bags of pork rinds and a two liter bottle of Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper with Splenda from the 7-11.  As you can tell, we had plenty of food.  I hope I didn’t ruin my girlish figure wolfing down those goodies!  Ha! Ha!
    Even with all that junk food, I must admit I got plenty hungry when Eleanor mentioned she saw something called pressed ham from inside of a high school bus.  Must be some sort of Southern specialty, I thought.
    We pulled off at a truck stop near Savannah.  A huge place with fuel pumps as far as the eye could see, it was all hustle and bustle.  Monstrous trucks idled in line waiting to fill up and we saw quite a few women truck stop employees in cut-off shorts, hi-heels, and halter tops bouncing from truck to truck.  Such Southern hospitality! 
    After topping off our gas tank, we hungrily looked for a place to eat.  All that ham talk had left me famished.  Finally, after spotting a blinking neon sign which said “Eats” behind the shower area, our search was complete.
    Inside was a charming diner set-up.  It was a lot like you’d find back home, except for the farm equipment and dead things hanging from the walls.  Our waitress, a cute little girl who wore her hair up in a huge bouffant with a box of pencils sticking from it, sweetly asked where we were from.
    After we told her New England, she made a note in her order pad and chatted about how beautiful the weather was down South, especially in the winter.  With a chuckle, she laughed at how all us “Yankees” swarm down I-95 every time it snowed in New York.  Then, with a serious look, she told us how important tourists like us were to her business.
    When Eleanor corrected her by informing her we weren’t tourists and that we were moving down South for good, she made a funny face.  Almost immediately, though, she smiled again and said, “Well, in that case, how ‘bout y’all get what we call the Interstate Surprise?  It’s what all the locals eat!” 
    We declared that would hit the spot, so we ordered two.  Closing her note pad with a flourish, our waitress spun on her heel and disappeared in a flash of pencils toward the kitchen.
    Within minutes, our orders arrived and we proceeded to devour them like we hadn’t eaten in days.  Well, my pork rinds had run out after we’d passed South of the Border for the second time and the pecan log roll had melted into the heater vents, so I was a little hungry.
    Even though my food was tasty, I found several little pebbles which I took for grits in my order.  I also thought I detected a faint order of burnt rubber, but no matter.  I wolfed it down like it was my last meal.
    Eleanor, on the other hand, insisted she saw tire treads on her cut of meat. 
    “Don’t be silly,” I chided, “those are grill marks from when they cooked it.”
    Even though she gave me a unconvinced look, she managed to clean her plate as well as I.
    When our waitress returned, she asked if we wanted dessert.  As much as I like sweet things, I had to say no because my stomach was a little unsettled.  Must have been that rich Southern food, I opined.
    “Takes a while,” she said.  “Some people never get used to it and have to go back North.”  She placed the check in front of me.  “Ya’ll have a nice day.”
    I turned to look at Eleanor, who appeared a little greener than when we first walked in.  I asked if she was ready to go.
    With a pained expression, she blurted that she was indeed ready to go.  At that, she leapt from her seat and bolted to the Ladies Room.   
    Seconds later, I joined her.

To be continued....

Next: La Ciruela Pasa as Aunt May and Eleanor reach the Promised Land.


  1. all to true, we like are trying to stop the northern tide.

  2. Good story. I also yearn for Florida right now.

  3. I keep telling's frikkin' hot in the's frikkin' hot in the's frikkin' hot in the summer....
    Plus, they have cockroaches the size of your head THAT CAN FLY!
    Oh, yeah, it's frikkin' hot in the summer.