Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.
I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Today is the birthday of one of my literary and gastronomic heroes...A.J. Liebling!!! He lived in Paris between the wars and wrote the marvelous book "Between Meals, An Appetite for Paris" about that time. He wrote superbly about boxing, politics, and any other topic that came his way at the old New Yorker magazine.
He was a fountain of great quotes such as:
The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate, within the allotted span, enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down.
Liebling, not Hemingway, is the writer who ignited my enduring love affair with Paris. And even if he had been a lousy writer, I would owe him a huge debt of gratitude as a result.
The Epic diner is always on the alert for fine food. So it was that, years ago, my "spider sense" for restaurants went off strongly while I was driving up Interstate 65 from Mobile to Birmingham, Alabama. I saw one sign for Bates House of Turkey and immediately took the next exit. That single decision placed me into an incredible eating experience that I am proud to say has not changed one little bit in the twenty years since.
Bates is one of those small town classics that has managed to stay in business for generations. That sort of longevity is always founded upon great food, reasonable prices and fine service. Bates House of Turkey provides all of that at the highest level. The customers are all friendly too. They are all just happy eaters and they are happy you are eating too.
When you walk in the door one of the very friendly and well trained counter helpers gives you a big smile and asks for your order. Don't look for roast beef. Don't look for ham. Don't look for salami. This place is all about Dr. Franklin's "respectable bird". The turkey and only the turkey. Sandwiches, chili, lasagna, open faced sandwiches, dinner plates. You name it. As long as it features turkey.
I love everything about this place and I stop in every time I pass by. They open at 8:00 am. No scrambled eggs here. Turkey. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. This week I had the delightful experience of having lunch at BHoT on the way north to Birmingham on Monday and then again today on the way back south to Florida. I always get the carved turkey plate which includes FINE cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and two side dishes. On a plastic plate with plastic forks and knives you get out of one of those devices with handles that dispenses them to you. Monday's lunch was...
Sliced tender, perfectly cooked turkey, perfect dressing, perfect gravy, green beans, and the most wonderful sweet potato casserole you ever tasted. And the dishes are all easy on the salt content as well. Oh did I mention the little cornbread muffin you get? And the little home baked roll? Both perfect. With tea and a slice of [wonderful] coconut cream pie. For just under $15. This place is like every southern grandma ever put all their cooking karma in one cute little building.
Day two lunch [south-bound] was...
Same plate but with fresh English peas and the best hash brown potato casserole you ever tasted. Oh, and a slice of chocolate cream pie this time. Just to mix it up.
This food is so good that when you finish you want to walk right up and order it all again. If anyone who calls themselves an Epic drives down I-65 and fails to stop at Bates House of Turkey [absent some very legitimate medical reason....and I want to see a note from the doctor] I'm going to read your name out in public. Because Bates House of Turkey is just about the best place you can be.
In my early 60s, widower, father and itinerant storyteller. I am a putative jazz singer, poet and novelist, dedicated to mining every minute of life for the veins of pleasure they contain. My motto is "Dum Vivimus, Vivamus"..."While we Live--LET US LIVE".