She had a slightly Cajun accent, “What’ll it be honey?”
Adorned in a blue apron, order pad in hand, poised to take my order, she was patient; but the restaurant was hopping, so I dare not send her away. Everyone knows the prime rule when it comes to waiters: Tell them you need another minute to make up your mind and they disappear for an hour. I had to decide immediately or starve.
The problem was, when one’s traveling in the deep south, as we were, everything — and I do mean EVERYTHING — is fried. Just reading the menu was causing a weight gain.
I stalled, “Take their orders first. I’ll be ready when you get back to me.”
She turned to Rich. “What’ll it be honey?” she repeated.
Rich, familiar with southern food, knew instantly what he wanted. “We’ll start with an appetizer of fried alligator.”
My head snapped, “Fried alligator? Really?” I’m not a fan of alligators, but my raised-in-California-with-lots-of-salads mentality had trouble imagining me devouring something that, not too long ago, would have reversed roles.
Ignoring me, he continued, “Then, a side of fried sardines, oh — and a few fried collard green wontons.” He turned to the two of us, “Sound OK?”
Margie, nodding, chimed in, “What about some hush-puppies?”
“What are hush puppies?” I asked. It was difficult enough imagining fried alligator. To me, hush puppies were soft, comfortable shoes. Although I was confident we wouldn’t be eating suede; after learning of fried sardines and alligator, I had a wee doubt.
“They’re great,” she said. “They’re sweet, doughy, bread balls. You’ll love them.”
“How are they prepared?”
I could feel cholesterol plugging my arteries even as I sat.