Canoodling

 beach

FADE IN

A RESORT IN NASSAU, BAHAMAS, 1986 – DAY

A family of 5 (youngest being a 9 YEAR OLD GIRL) are seated at a poolside table. They have just arrived from the States. The MOTHER and 3 CHILDREN are weary from their trip, but are excited by the clear blue skies and equally blue waters beyond. The FATHER looks around the restaurant area, anxious for someone to come and take their order. A WAITRESS approaches the table.

WAITRESS
How may I help you?

FATHER
Yeah, we’d like five Co-Colas.

WAITRESS
Five Coco Loco?

The FATHER nods.

FATHER
Yes. Five Co-Colas.

The WAITRESS pauses, and then makes a head motion to the 9 YEAR OLD GIRL and asks–

WAITRESS
Five? Coco Loco?

The FATHER is getting rather irritated at this point. His next one-word answer is spoken in several octaves–

FATHER
Yes.

WAITRESS
Yes, sir. Five Coco Loco

The WAITRESS leaves the table and heads to the BAR to prepare the drinks.

Time passes. The FAMILY chats together. Small clouds pass in front of the sun. Various WAIT STAFF pass by the table without stopping. The FATHER grows more impatient. He wants his soda.

The WAITRESS returns to the table, carrying a tray holding 5 white frozen beverages, each with paper umbrellas and fruit garnishes. She begins to place them on the table as she says–

WAITRESS
Five Coco Locos.

The CHILDREN’s eyes grow wide at the sight of the very fancy (and obviously alcoholic) beverages.

FATHER
That itn’t no Co-Cola.

FADE OUT

 

I was that 9 year old girl.

But that wasn’t the only memorable thing that happened on this trip.

Equally notable, but infinitely more terrifying (and far more pertinent to this post) was…

The Banana Boat Incident

Let me summarize:

Family of five boards a banana boat and is towed by speed boat at a fast clip out into the gleaming blue waters of the Caribbean. The speed boat makes nice, large sweeping turns. Middle child (the brother-yes I blame it all on him) leans hard in every turn, eventually throwing the bouncy inflatable raft off balance. Family of five falls into the water. Youngest child is terrified and attempts to climb up oldest child like a ladder to avoid whatever lies at the sea’s floor. Youngest child nearly drowns oldest child and never lives it down. Youngest child also never gets over fear of unseen horrors in the water below.

Back to 2013 – When a cool and learned man from our church began offering canoe lessons, I signed The Man and myself up! Canoeing would be perfect for fighting my water demons, as well as give me something to write about.

And so we went canoeing…

We met our fearless teacher at a local lake for our lesson.

He presented us with a syllabus. Delightful! 

We learned many things about the canoe, like how to pack it for a trip and how to “unswamp” it. A canoe would be “swamped” if it was full of water.

We learned how to steer our canoe slowly and quickly and how to navigate through obstacles. We also learned to communicate with the proper canoeing lingo.

We learned a few tricks, like laying our heads into the dark creepy lake water and switching places in the canoe while afloat.Canoe adventure

Later in the week, we put all our new skills to the test (and learned a few more) on a river trip in the mountains with our teacher, his family, and his other two canoe students. 

We learned how to turn upstream and park in various places, and also practiced paddling in serpentines around our fellow boaters while they remained still.

We learned how to “ferry” straight across the moving river. This could be helpful if we came across a stranded paddle or adventurer that needed retrieving.

We practiced our unswamping skills in moving water.

I faced a few demons and stood in mud up to my ankles. (who knows what was in that muck?!)

I faced a few more demons at our break spot and followed the young fellas down the river, bodysurfing on purpose. This was quite exhilarating in the cold water and all went extremely well until I had trouble getting my footing to come back to the beach. That was downright terrifying! (for a few seconds)

We handled the little Class I rapids with ease. We really enjoyed the last ones, which were closer to Class II rapids (due to the high water level that day).

We had a fantastic time and I left the river feeling quite knowledgable and wanting my own canoe.

Now I just need to learn how to fish!canoeing

One more thing I learned:

Way back when (I’m thinking Jane Austen times), courting couples would hardly ever have any alone time, since most meeting were chaperoned. Some couples would enjoy paddling on two-seater canoes that did not allow anyone else to be present. Going on these sorts of canoe outings, and whatever other activities may have ensued away from prying eyes, became known as “canoodling”.

There was no canoodling going on during either of our outings, but the word sure is fun to say.

The Great Fried Chicken Adventure

FriedChickenIn our house, Saturday is Cheat Day. It’s been this way for a couple years. The Man and I were pretty devoted to the 4 Hour Body Diet for a while and ever since then, Saturday has been our day to indulge in foods we know we really shouldn’t be eating.

In the beginning, this meant a day heavy on donuts, sausage gravy, burgers, french fries, milkshakes, and the occasional “cheat day buffet” at a friend’s house. Since we’ve since moved toward a daily whole foods diet, lots of that sugary, processed junk doesn’t even tempt us anymore. There are exceptions, of course. Like our great local donut shop. And french fries. And mounds of pasta. Who am I kidding? Saturday still is a bit of a free-for-all and I’m not ready to give it up completely.

That's one big chicken attacking our town.

That’s one big chicken attacking our town.

Great fried chicken wasn’t really a part of my Southern upbringing. Our fried chicken always came with 11 herbs and spices. In this part of the country, we give directions using giant fast food poultry as a landmark and guide.

This wasn’t true for The Man. His grandmother, Ma-Ma, provided him with fresh and homemade fried chicken on an apparently regular basis! Unfortunately, by the time we were married, his diminutive grandmother had been placed on a no-fat diet. When I came to visit we got Publix takeaway. (not that Publix makes bad fried chicken. If you get it fresh, it can be almost drool worthy)

So we kept on the lookout for tasty fried chicken to satisfy The Man’s primal urges. Here’s what we found:

FransFriedChicken

  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, Tennessee – I thought it was fantastic. Nice crunch and surprising red pepper flavor that didn’t singe my lips. For The Man, it lacked the honey/buttermilk flavors from his youth. This visit was part of the best anniversary ever.
  • Fran’s Chicken of Boca Raton, Florida – Now this is closer to home for him. His parents ate this chicken as newlyweds and took The Man back whenever they were in the area. I remember liking Gus’s better. We grabbed a box of legs to keep the family happy for the long drive back to the ATL.

(Neither of these fantastic fried chicken joints are anywhere near our actual home in the Atlanta suburbs)

So one Saturday I was thinking about lunch. I had just been to yoga and sweated off over 600 calories (so they say) and I was HAWNgry. The family picked me up and I said…

“We should go on a fried chicken adventure!”

We didn’t.

But the next week we did!

This kicked off a fabulous trend of fried chicken in the ATL!

I’ll add to this list as it happens, but here’s where we’ve been so far:

  1.  The Colonnade in Atlanta, GA – Currently in the lead. The chicken thigh was the best I’ve had ever. So far. The other parts were good, too. Great fried shrimp and slaw. Fantastic coconut pie. Everything I had was great except the sweet potato casserole. Way too much allspice, I think. 
  2. Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, GA – Good chicken. Not as crunchy as we’d like. But very juicy. Especially the breast, which surprised me. Pot Likker was a surprising treat, and the banana pudding was good. I even liked the meringue. I’m usually anti-meringue. But the best surprise? Tomato Pie! What the what?! Why had I never tasted this before? It’s a revelation!CarversFriedChicken
  3. Carver’s Country Kitchen in Atlanta, GA – My brother took me to this wonderful gem just in time for the owner to announce they were closing. I’ll have to be sure to visit as many times as possible before that happens. The chicken breast (no dark meat option on this day) was tasty, but a little drier than the others I’ve had lately. I’m sure it could have been an off day. However, it had the most delicious crispy crust of them all. So far. Plus, they offered cobbler as a vegetable. It was apparent that many people are going to miss this place. I was a bit morose and it was only my first visit!

 

Check back in for more updates as I eat my way through Georgia’s fried chicken, and let me know in the comments if you have a suggestion!