Three years ago I was planning a two-week road trip through the South, an enormous loop that would take me from Miami to Mobile and New Orleans, up the Natchez Trace, across the Mississippi River into Arkansas, across the bottom of Illinois, through Paducah and Bowling Green, Ky., to Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn., to Asheville, N.C. and back home by way of Greenville, S.C., Atlanta and Macon.
I wasn’t about to subsist on fast-food burgers and chicken. I wanted real Southern food – traditional or nouvelle.
I started my research at Mobile, about which I knew nothing, and found the Alabama Tourism Dept.’s list: “100 Dishes to eat in Alabama before you die.” It felt like I had struck gold. About a dozen dishes were listed under Mobile, and I settled on oysters “fried, stewed or nude” at Wintzell’s, a restaurant that has been around since 1938. I had a dozen oysters and fried green tomatoes with crawfish sauce and was happy I’d crossed one of those 100 dishes off that list.
Today (Friday) the Alabama Tourism Dept. is scheduled to unveil its updated list at its website. I was glad to learn that because I’m planning another road trip this spring that will take me through Mobile again, and I think I ought to spread my money around, try a different restaurant this time. I checked out the website yesterday, thinking maybe I’d get a sneak peek, but it still had the 2010 list posted. What I did find, however, was a list of 25 can’t-miss Alabama food festivals for 2012. I’m already thinking about re-routing my road trip to take in more of Alabama and a couple of those festivals.