When we travel, I get absolutely no writing done. There are too many distraction, too many voices. That we spent more than time away than anticipated has put a crimp in my schedule, but I don’t regret the days lost. We spent the weeks with family on both sides, and made a nice detour for our anniversary at the Camellia Rose Inn (always recommended if you’re in Gainesville, Florida), and a nostalgic trip through an old home.
After we married we moved immediately to Athens, Georgia – he to get his Doctorate, me to well, it started out as school but ended up as work. I had hoped to get a Master’s degree, but things didn’t happen as planned, and our four-year stay in Georgia marked the beginning of two paths. I started my first book there, though I wouldn’t finish it for years, and I began my experience working with the Internet. Mind you, this was the early 90s when the Internet amounting to endless buffering on AOL and the dreaded Lynx browser that resembled the old Texas Instruments computer interface. Still, I got to construct the “official” webpage of our department in the University of Georgia Libraries, where I toiled away in the basement listening to conservative talk radio (all I could pick up at the time).
In Athens we drank a lot of beer and survived on Peppino’s pizza and pasta, and The Grit. At Peppino’s they served up a mound of spinach lasagna with salad for just over three bucks. It became our daily lunch routine, and “Mama” ran the show from behind the warmers. On days M came with a fellow grad student she’d eye him and says, “That’s not your wife!” It’s nice to have a place to make your own.
The Grit was/is a vegetarian place further from campus, housed in a building purportedly owned by Michael Stipe. We saw him there occasionally in our final year of residence – since REM still toured back then. I credit The Grit for helping me eat my veggies. I don’t want to know how they prepared them (obviously w/o animal tallow) because everything tasted so damn good there. We were living proof at the time one could go veggie and still get fat.
Since his graduation, we’d only come back once, many years ago. We had the time on our current trip and decided to show the little one this place we still treasure. She seemed most impressed by a late-night cookie bakery that’s newer to the area, but we were relieved to find The Grit not only still in business, still busy as hell, but mostly unchanged since our first visit twenty odd years ago. The wall plaster remains chipped and partially painted, the candles on the Jesus picture are still lit, and the food…
Holy Mother of Ged, the food.
This is the Golden Bowl, a signature dish. Sauteed tofu, rice, and nutritional yeast flakes. Yeah, I side-eyed it on the menu my first trip, but one bite hooked me. It became a challenge to have dinner there afterward and not order this dish. Every time I’ve made this home, I’ve never gotten it right, Grit right, either. I follow their cookbook to the letter, too. Either I’m not draining the tofu enough before I cook, or they purposely left out a step, thereby forcing us to come back and eat.
After our last (hopefully not) supper there, we spent the rest of our time driving around town, pointing out what closed, what moved (Peppino’s, to the other side of town), and what looked new. I know you can’t “go home” again, but I’m happy for taking the detour and finding some places still frozen in time.
If I still can’t get that tofu to soy sauce ratio down, we may be back sooner.