Friday, March 4, 2011

Favorite Foreigners and Fried Green Tomatos

Rene and Julie Zankl are two of my favorite people in the world.  I met Julie years ago, she was my internet spades partner going back to the mid 1990's.  They live in Calgary, AB Canada.  I've been to Calgary to visit them twice.  I'd live there if it weren't so darn cold.  I remember talking to Julie when she was in labor with her youngest son.  I also remember talking to her when my mom died.  Truly been good friends, even though many miles are between us.  I jokingly refer to them as my "Favorite Foreigners."
However, this story occurs on their one and only visit to Georgia.  They are the most gracious of hosts and always have a full itenerary scheduled for my visits.  Even when I call them the day before and tell them, "I'm coming up there tomorrow."  I had no clue what to do to entertain them in boring little Meansville, GA.  I had told them about the "World's Largest Peanut" down close to Plains.  Once they saw the pictures on the internet, they felt no need to go see it in person.  I did introduce them to Waffle House which made breakfast planning very simple.  This was back in the days when you could still smoke in restaurants.  Rene asked if he could smoke in there, I told him that you were kind of expected to.   I did have to stop him from trying to order his eggs boiled though.
One day we decided to go riding down toward Macon so I could show them some of the cool houses and figure we would hit a couple of places on the way back.  My best friend, John Wilson, tagged along with us that day.  I had decided that it was my duty to introduce them to some of the finer southern foods.  They had already tasted grits.  I smuggled a bag across the border on my first visit.  I decided it was time for them to taste some Fried Green Tomatoes, so we pulled off the interstate and headed for Juliette.  If you're not familiar with Juliette, GA, it is the town that was used in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes."  So where better to feed someone fried green tomatoes that at the WhistleStop Cafe.  It was miserably hot that day and humid.  The weather had been unseasonably nice for August in GA during the previous part of their stay.  So I was glad that they got to experience another Georgia tradition of uncontrolable sweating.  Next time I'll take them a little further south and introduce them to gnats!
Now we are getting to the part of the story that some consider legend.  It was nice and cool inside the Whistle Stop.  A refreshing break from the miserable August heat outside. I (believe it or not) had to go to the bathroom.  Unlike previous stories there was no government cheese involved.  I opened the door to the bathroom and thought I was in the kitchen.  It was an add-on bathroom with a tin roof and was not serviced by the air conditioning just outside the door.  I have never been so hot in my whole life.  I did the business that I was there for as quickly as possible which still seemed like a half an hour.  I walk out and I am sweating profusely.  The whole restaurant was staring at me.  I sat down at the table and began to explain everything.  When I was done telling about the tin roof, no A/C and whatever else I could think of to complain about, I began to chuckle.  When they curiously asked what was so funny, I told them "I fudged the bowl."
We briefly looked at the idea of trying to market shirts and thought of doing a tour where we'd go around fudging bowls at other famous landmarks.  Maybe when I retire.
Next time you're riding through middle Georgia, swing by and see the Famous Whistle Stop Cafe.  Eat some Fried Green Tomatos.  But if it's above 80 degree's stop and use the bathroom somewhere before you get there.  But I will always fondly remember (since I am frequently reminded) the day that "I FUDGED THE BOWL AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE!"

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