What I saw in Alabama

September 5, 2009 • 3:28 pm

Just back from a terrific trip, and before the serious posting begins tomorrow, just a few holiday snaps.  First, the biology:

bearded dragon46Fig. 1.  Dr. Stephen Secor, Dept. Biology, University of Alabama, with a legless lizard, Ophisaurus apodus (nb: not a snake, but convergent on them).  Legless lizards have evolved independently several times.

bearded dragon45Fig. 2.  Bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) on Secor’s hand. These are popular pets, and come from Australia.

Meat and three48Fig. 3.  Meat and three: theory. You can’t get more Southern than this.  Menu at City Café, Tuscaloosa. Note that the yams are truthful.

Mn3 plate52Fig. 4.  Meat and three: practice (my lunch).  Chopped steak with brown gravy and onions, fresh tomatoes, creamed corn, and fried okra (best I’ve ever had). Note sweet tea, an essential for washing it all down.

dreamland53Fig. 5.  Dreamland, Tuscaloosa.  The original of a growing chain.  Note the decrepitude and pickup trucks: signs of a good rib joint.


Fig. 6.  A half slab of Dreamland ribs.  Rolls of paper towels on the table are a futile gesture toward keeping your face sauce-free.

Banana pudding59

Fig. 7.  ‘Nanner pudding; the requisite end for any southern meal and a favorite of the King. I’ve never had better than at Dreamland.

Thanks to all my hosts and colleagues (especially Dr. Leslie Rissler), the biology grad students, and the ALLELE series for showing me such a swell time.  Roll, Tide!

16 thoughts on “What I saw in Alabama

  1. Love the biology. As far as the food – sitting here after the last 7 hours at a BBQ, I do not want to see more food.

    1. I ain’t that thin! I didn’t mention breakfast: fried eggs, grits, biscuits, a big slab of country ham with red-eye gravy, and coffee. All in < 12 hours.

  2. I’m down in Georgia a couple times per year, and I always have to insist on unsweet tea. That’s how you know you’re in the south – you ask for iced tea, and you get a saturated sugar solution instead.

  3. Wow, this field is a small world. Steve Secor was my Intro Bio TA at UCLA in the fall of 1989. Is he still trying to figure out how many cheeseburgers it takes to power a python??

    And I feel your “pain” re: caloric intake. I was just in Nashville for the American Fisheries Society meetings and had four days of southern cooking. One has to go to McDonald’s for something “lighter.”

  4. Mmm … those ribs look good. I’m afraid all the other stuff’ll kill me though; I can’t have much sugar anymore. 🙁 I’ll have a tub of the fried okra though, even if my dietician screams at me.

    1. I’m with you there. My meat and 3 includes pills for bp, cholesterol and sugar. The picture of the tea alone made my count go up by 50.

  5. NO COLLARD GREENS??? BLASPHEMY!! (they should be cooked with a ham bone; and eaten with a dash of Hot Pepper Vinegar … trust me on this: it’s so common that you can actually buy canned collards down here with the hot peppers already mixed in).

    And speaking of culinary sins no authentic Southern Meal lacks White Rice (accepting Breakfast when you swap it out with Grits; or a regular meal when you’re having mashed ‘taters … there must be a largish pile of white carbohydrates on your plate or You’re Not Doing It Right).

    (Old Joke) Southerners are like the Chinese: we eat Rice with every meal; drink Tea; and live through our Ancestors : )

    Speaking of Tea: as someone who was born and raised in the South (SC in my case) I have to point out that while Restaurants down here all serve ‘Sweet Tea’ most of my Southern friends (and all of my immediate family) take it w/o. Having spent some time Up North I found the same to be true of Coffee: I take it black and most people seem to take it either black or slightly sugared … but if you order it at Duncin’ Doughnuts and don’t tell them to go easy you will quickly end up in a Sugar Coma o_O

    At Duncin’ “regular coffee” means 1/3 coffee, 1/3 cream/ and 1/3 sugar as near as I can tell (and that’s true in RI, MA and NH!)

    And as much as I like ‘nanner puddin’ myself: that’s something that your Gramma makes on a weekday … when you go out to a Sit Down and Eat Restaurant (or Sunday Dinner)then you should be having Pecan Pie and/or Peach Cobbler (hot, right from the oven, with a healthy scoop of ice cream). Seriously. It’d be like going to RI and not having a glass of Coffee Milk or Key West and not having a slice of Key Lime Pie : )

  6. Oh, in Alabama were you? ‘Tis where I was born and raised, and still live. Though I live quite a ways south of where you visited. Down near Dothan. I’d like to make some sweet tea, but for some reason all the stores nearby aren’t carrying saccharin anymore. Wtf?! I can’t make sweet tea without sugar and saccharin! AND I WANT THAT “NANNER PUDDING” OMG OMM NOM NOM NOM!

    1. When I make Mac n cheese it’s not. It’s a death sentence. Colby, Cheddar, phillie cream cheese, velveeta, butter, evap milk. Oh, and some macaroni.

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