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July 22, 2013 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Cracker Barrel's Oddly Authentic Version of American History

Here's a look at the restoration process.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (72 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Their notorious homophobia is also part of American history, so yay them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's Cracker Barrel's authentic version of American History.
posted by mistersquid at 5:54 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can just imagine museum directors across the country shuddering at the phrase "today's American history museum" and adding Emily Chertoff to the list of people that will never work for them or serve on their boards.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:57 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am on a diet right now and I hate how you have made me think of dumplings in sawmill gravy and fried okra and cornbread and Valomilk chocolates and penny candy sticks.

Love-hate relationship with this place. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents there when I was growing up, on road trips or just visiting them, because that is the place where they liked to go out to eat even if there was an entire city's worth of options. But I hate the malfeasance and the smug ugly patriot-Christianity on sale in the gift shop. Nonetheless, as long as I have living family, I will probably find myself outvoted and eating there again.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


But but but fried fucking okra.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:06 PM on July 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Their gift shop has Cheerwine.

That alone is enough to justify their existence.
posted by delfin at 6:09 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


mistersquid, most of those links are fairly old (I would say 2011 is troubling). I know the company has done a lot to combat discrimination within the company in the last several years. I'm not trying to be an apologist, but if Chick-fil-a came out with a statement that said they were now supporting gay rights, and were donating $2 for every one their asshat founder put towards fighting them, then i would eat there again.

I've seen Kaki King live a few times and heard her talk about how she plans her tours around Cracker Barrel locations. That goes a long ways toward allowing me to feel fine eating there. Also, I live in white bread country. Sometimes the only time I see black people is if I go to Cracker Barrel or Popeye's. I figure if it really was the hotbed of oppression it would be "whites only."

I am seriously a guy who likes to vote with his dollars. I boycott Chick-fil-a, have no plan to see Enders Game, and if you can show me that Cracker Barrel still has these issues, then I won't eat there. Otherwise, they are the only place I eat that has turkey sausage!

I am on a diet right now and I hate how you have made me think of dumplings in sawmill gravy and fried okra and cornbread and Valomilk chocolates and penny candy sticks.

Same planets, different worlds. The only word you used that I know is "cornbread." It means: Out of buttermilk biscuits.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:17 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was going to say that there aren't any Cracker Barrels around here but their store locator tells me that there's one next to the Ikea. I think that I'll stick with the swedish meatballs and ligenberries.
posted by octothorpe at 6:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one socially redeeming quality they had as a chain was their Pine Rosin baked potatoes. So fluffy they were divine.

There was one downside though: you weren't supposed to eat the skin.

They would have a large, bold text warning in the menu, saying "DON'T EAT THE SKIN"

The waitstaff would remind you both when you ordered and when your food was brought to the table that you weren't to eat the potato skin.

When they'd remove the potato from the vat of boiling pine rosin, they would tightly wrap each potato in an old menu. (If you've ever wondered why Cracker Barrel menus are on cheap brown paper, this is why.) As the remaining layer of boiling hot rosin clinging to the potatoskin cooled and hardened, it would fuse the brown paper right to it, making it damn near impossible to eat the skin anyway, even if you were to ignore the warnings.

However, they stopped using Pine Rosin in 1992. I don't know if there was an actual lawsuit, or their insurance just feared the threat of one.

But in researching this comment, I learned that the fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater had a special cauldron, specifically for heating pine rosin for cooking potatoes by this same method.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:21 PM on July 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


Anybody who eats there is an ignaramoose.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:33 PM on July 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


How much would it cost to get a writer of the Atlantic to sing the historical verisimilitude of a pre-Civil War plantation-themed restaurant? Perhaps they could review the place, noting the special course of, how did Paula Deen put it? A Sambo burger served up by... I'm sure you know the rest.

cjorgensen, Kaki King said that Cracker Barrel was like "your old, racist mom from the South who invites you in and cooks you the best food. And it’s totally worth it." Somehow I doubt she's going there for ideological reasons. In any case, it makes me think less of Kaki King and not more of Cracker Barrel.

As a sidenote, of the two times that I've ever seen people seriously rubbernecking my girlfriend and I, once was at Cracker Barrel in Kentucky and the other was at a really good pie place in Cheyenne, WY. I'm pretty sure both times was as a result of our oh-so-adorable miscegenation. Also, the only vegetables the Cracker Barrel had on the entire menu was a side dish they called 'dressings' so fuck them completely.
posted by dubusadus at 6:33 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hadn't thought about them in years. What a bunch of clowns - wouldn't want any trouble with teh gays - better send out a press release saying they aren't welcome here!

Actually I guess it was a little more sinister; their idea, iirc, was to reassure Ma and Pa Kettle that they couldn't get AIDS from eating at a Cracker Barrel, since they wouldn't hire any gay people.
posted by thelonius at 6:36 PM on July 22, 2013


cjorgensen: sawmill gravy, fried okra, Valomilk and penny candy sticks! Plus the cornbread is savory and coarse, if I am not mistaken, which is a vast improvement over a sweet, light Northern cornbread.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:39 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cracker Barrel is a robust national distribution system for Valomilk. They also have bottled soda.

Nothing else.
posted by helicomatic at 6:53 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ate at one probably 25 years ago. Considering the options on a long car trip, it was OK.

TL,DR: rather eat here than a McDonald's
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:00 PM on July 22, 2013


It's where I got my cast iron pig face pan. Makes great cornbread!
posted by paulsc at 7:00 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, how do I sensibly make fried okra at home?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:08 PM on July 22, 2013


Okay, how do I sensibly make fried okra at home?

Acquire okra, coat it in some form of batter*, submerge it in very hot oil.

* No recipe, per se, but I generally throw the okra in an egg wash and then into a mix of roughly half corn meal and half all purpose flour, plus some spices in the dry mix.
posted by ndfine at 7:35 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, how do I sensibly make fried okra at home?

Slice okra into pieces. Soak in buttermilk for several minutes. Working in batches, dredge in a mixture of equal parts flour and cornmeal, seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry until browned and slightly crunchy.
posted by jedicus at 7:36 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I generally throw the okra in an egg wash

The buttermilk soak is important. You always want some form of acid when working with okra to help cut the mucilage.
posted by jedicus at 7:37 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wait, the only vegetables on the menu were what now? They didn't have collards or okra or squash or sweet potatoes or any of the 8-10 vegetable side dishes that I've seen at every Cracker Barrel I've ever been to? That's really out of the ordinary. There's plenty of reasons to avoid Cracker Barrel, but they're almost my go to place when traveling because the vegetable options are so much better.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:40 PM on July 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


The buttermilk soak is important. You always want some form of acid when working with okra to help cut the mucilage.

Understanding that okra's mucilage and general sliminess is not everyone's cup of tea, I like my fried okra crispy outside and gooey and still tasting like actual okra the vegetable inside.
posted by ndfine at 7:43 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is fascinating. I go to this place a few times a year -- it's my parents' favorite restaurant -- and I've always assumed everything on the walls was fake, and identical in every restaurant. I can't believe there's like a design team precisely arranging each restaurant's unique ginormous pile of things.

I would love to know the knickknack budget when they're setting up a new location.
posted by gerstle at 7:57 PM on July 22, 2013


I've had great success with roasted okra, tossed with olive oil and Old Bay, cooked in a 400 F oven.

Also, apparently the trick to the pine rosin potatoes was the extremely high smoke point of the rosin - you could probably get the same effect from other food-safe cooking oils.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:59 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's an odd article. There's no shortage of restaurants using real antique Americana for decor, very similar to Cracker Barrel. Though I was amused with the notion of Cracker Barrel as American history museum. A few years back on a long road trip, we stopped at Cabelas on the way to Yellowstone for a few supplies. It didn't take long for me to view the place as a sort of rural red state natural history museum, on top of the monstrous sporting store it is.

Perhaps it's that Americana/general store decor is so well trod, that I wasn't impressed later on in the trip when we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for a meal. First and only time.

Coincidentally, none of us were all that impressed with the food either, finding it rather bland overall. But that might have been because we'd eaten at Lambert's in southeast Missouri just a couple days before.

I actually shudder to think what Lambert's authentic version of American history might turn out to be if I were to dig deeply enough.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:01 PM on July 22, 2013


The company competes with other restaurant chains, like Applebees and TGI Fridays, which also use real antiques in their restaurants.

SNOW restaurants (shit nailed on walls)
posted by exogenous at 8:21 PM on July 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


I actually shudder to think what Lambert's authentic version of American history might turn out to be if I were to dig deeply enough.

But it's Lambert's! There is nothing more entertaining than watching the blue-haired set catch yeast rolls thrown from clear across the room. It's beautiful and must be experienced to be believed.
posted by mochapickle at 8:25 PM on July 22, 2013


Huh. Kind of off-topic but I haven't been to a Cracker Barrel in years and I just learned that Cracker Barrel cheese, (which is the only mass produced cheddar I'll buy) is not associated with the restaurant, is actually owned by Kraft and is in the midst of a lawsuit over the whole thing.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:32 PM on July 22, 2013


I believe organizational racism has great durability, even when the organization has taken steps to combat negative press and make reparations. Cracker Barrel is one organization which I believe continues to promote intolerance within its organization.

Heck. I believe the entire United States of America promotes intolerance within (parts of) its organization.

CALL ME CRAZY.
posted by mistersquid at 8:47 PM on July 22, 2013


Cracker Barrel has its problems, but one of the things about it that's fairly unique is that the restaurant is not identical across the country. What's in the gift shop, what's on the menu, those things do vary by region. I find that interesting. (Not interesting enough to eat there, though.)
posted by Sequence at 8:56 PM on July 22, 2013


But but but fried fucking okra.
I can think of numerous places with better fried okra than Cracker Barrel.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cracker Barrel is one of those places that pretty much only exists so I can have a bowel movement on a road trip in a relatively clean restroom. I'm pretty sure the patrons are all actually extras in my heroic narrative, and there's actually no food served there.
posted by planetesimal at 9:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Not singing the praises of SNOW restaurants here, but my rural grandparents did have the color television with the coal fireplace (supplemented by an oil heater), an outhouse that apparently my grandfather preferred over the toilet, and lovingly maintained kerosine lamps that got use now and then. It was one of those houses where practically everything was antique, and lots of things ended up put to a different use than what they were designed for.

My grandfather's pride and joy was this kitschy John Wayne commemorative plate, it was one of the few decorative luxuries he permitted for himself. This was a bacon-and-eggs guy who ate a whole bunch of breakfast cereal to scrape together the proofs of purchase to get me a cardboard space capsule. He was disabled by a heart attack before I was born, and died of cancer when I was in middle school. My grandmother commuted an hour to Terre Haute to make ends meet.

So now that I really think about it, it's kinda depressing that the reuse-repurpose-reuse-repurpose thriftiness that was a product of their crushing rural poverty is now a restaurant sales gimmick, and grist for popular cable shows.

But that's my baggage and why I find a lot of country kitsch to be a bit weird.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:17 PM on July 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am sympathetic to the "Cracker Barrel has shitty politics" lobby, but damn it I love their biscuits. Love. Those biiscuits with molasses is easily in my top five available dishes. Ungh.

But okra is a totally different story. The way to prepare okra is to sauté thin slices with shallots, salt and peppere. UNGH. If it is fresh the slime isn't a huge deal and if you aren't down with a little slime you shouldn't be eating okra.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:23 PM on July 22, 2013


I can think of numerous places with better fried okra than Cracker Barrel.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:58 PM on July 22 [+] [!]


1) So can I, and number one on the list is my house. I can make the traditional battered version, sure, and it's great, but what you really want to try is my spicy okra and potato hash, which has nicely cooked potatoes and some coarse-ground cornmeal and serranos and TONS of garlic and fried onions and is possibly the best thing you will ever eat in your life.

2) I well know Cracker Barrel's history of anti-gay hiring practices. When they really started increasing their number of restaurants, I (a gay!) boycotted them for that reason. So did my Southern-food-loving Republican parents.

3) I would eat there now if I was on a road trip and didn't have any info on local options, because that kind of food appeals to me a hell of a lot more than, say, Applebee's.

4) Despite their historical and social and political fuckups, I feel that it's somewhat important to support Cracker Barrell because of fried fucking okra. They are the only restaurant with an almost-national reach that serves okra in any form, and popularizing okra would help bring it down from $5.99/lb in my local grocery store, so they're doing god's work.

5) See #1.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:28 PM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


mudpuppie, you are cementing my opinion against Cracker Barrel because I despise okra, even when it's been battered and fried.

More for you.
posted by mistersquid at 9:41 PM on July 22, 2013


Guys, I know Cracker Barrel is basically good for nothing that requires chewing besides bacon or sausage, but when you're on the road and there's nothing to eat but Taco Bell or McDonald's or gas station fare, sometimes that's alright. And you can get it with molasses. And they have eggs. Eggs are really hard to cook in the car.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:44 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


mudpuppie, you are cementing my opinion against Cracker Barrel because I despise okra, even when it's been battered and fried

Given time and geography, I am certain I could change your mind.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:12 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


As this seems to be today's food thread and there's a lot about okra, I must comment that the only thing I don't like about okra is dealing with the itchy plant. My mother wore gloves and long sleeves to the garden because of okra. Churns and washboards are not as charming either when you've actually had to use them in your life. The rocking chairs are first class, though.

I love the food at Cracker Barrel but deciding to boycott the place didn't require much thought. It did give me a pang because it is difficult in New Orleans to find proper fried okra or even savory cornbread without jalapeño or some other faux creole inclusion. In fact, there is no 'real' Southern cooking here but that's another subject. Admittedly, I can make cornbread and fried okra myself but Valomilk? Giving up that indulgence was tough. Half of the year you can't even get it shipped down here!
posted by Anitanola at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2013


I live in a town that takes great pride in its restaurants. For a struggling city in a bankrupt county in a poor state, we have an unusually good dining scene. We have James Beard Award winners and we have meat-and-threes that have been in business for 50+ years. We have insanely competitive barbecue places. We have mom-and-pop burger joints that make heavenly milkshakes and cheeseburgers so extravagant they taste like eating delicious sin itself.

And every time I drive by the Cracker Barrel, the parking lot is full.

I don't understand it.

I like their breakfasts, but that's sheer laziness - they do nothing at breakfast that I can't do better at home, but it's the weekend and maybe I'm kinda hungover and I'll happily pay someone to make biscuits and gravy so I don't have to.

But the rest of the food is just so-so and there are eight other places doing the same thing better within a five-mile radius.

But they're always on a wait. Always.

It's mystifying.

And some of the items for sale in Ye Olde-Tyme Gifte Shoppe are fucking terrifying.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:48 PM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, how do I sensibly make fried okra at home?

A woman friend of mine complained several times that she could not find fresh okra to make her favorite Indian dish. Challenge Accepted. So I talked to my local grocer, he said he could get a case and he'd put it out for sale so I didn't have to buy the whole case myself. I asked him to try to put a rush on it, so I could get some in time for her birthday, which was coming up fast.

On her birthday, I told her casually, oh did you see, the XYZ store just got fresh okra in stock. I had $7 of okra concealed in my bag to give her as a gift. She stunned me when I said, "oh I just found some at the Indian foods store yesterday!"

I was crestfallen. It seemed ridiculous to give her more okra, so I just left it in my bag and said nothing about it. I took it back home and shoved it in my fridge, where it moldered away after a couple of weeks. What the hell am I supposed to do with fresh okra?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:50 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not a fan, though my wife and her sister will drive 30 miles or more out of their way to eat there. Part of my aversion has always been that I assumed all that crap was fake. I'm blown away that it's not.
posted by xammerboy at 11:52 PM on July 22, 2013


My SO is all about the Cracker Barrel. Rarely do we have a road trip without at least two stops at the damn things. Every once in a great while they have some special menu item that is actually tasty. Otherwise, I'd usually prefer Waffle House. (or something that's actually good in the sense that it is well seasoned)

If BitterOldPunk would provide suggestions as to what one might eat at 9 o'clock on a Thursday night other than Cracker Barrel when the other obvious options are Hooter's, Applebee's, and the usual fast food places, I would be eternally grateful. Well, maybe not eternally, but for a few hours at least.
posted by wierdo at 12:07 AM on July 23, 2013


I vow to use "left holding the okra" as a word for romantic failure or disappointment, as long as I shall live. Who's with me?
posted by thelonius at 1:19 AM on July 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


My next time at "the Crack" I will treat it as a museum experience. I will tour the dining room, stopping at each booth and ooh and ahh at each piece of S nailed to the W.
posted by surplus at 1:27 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


but what you really want to try is my spicy okra and potato hash,

mudpuppie, what must I do to acquire this recipe from you? It is okra season here, and it will only last a few weeks - time is short! There is so much deliciousness I could be having if you were to teach me your magical ways.
posted by Mizu at 2:02 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fried okra SHOULD NOT BE BATTERED, at least not as part of the food culture that Cracker Barrel is exploiting. There are three ingredients (four, if you count the oil it's cooked in) - okra, cornmeal, and salt. Here's how you do it.

Cracker Barrel's is frozen (as is most of their food).
posted by cilantro at 4:44 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm vegan now and can no longer eat at Cracker Barrel--as someone said upthread, if you're Southern and have living relatives, you WILL always get outvoted and it's off to CB you go--but I have fond memories of the pancakes.
posted by Kitteh at 5:21 AM on July 23, 2013


I would rather sit in the car, hungry, than let that place have any of my money. I won't put up with my racist relatives, either.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:34 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I only visit when my family has a get-together (which inevitably means we eat at Cracker Barrel), but I like the food and, as a vegetarian, I like that there are a lot of veggie options for me.

Not that I ever go out of my way to eat there, but I'm not sure how concerned I should be giving them my money; it seems like they've done a lot to try to combat the racism in their ranks. The last two times I've gone there have been these big signs at the entrances (going back at least 2-3 years ago--and I mean BIG like you can't not see them). I hadn't really known about all of their lawsuits but had just sort of assumed, but I actually thought the sign was somewhat reassuring, that they were calling attention to the fact that 'hey this has been an issue please tell us if it is an issue during your visit too'. It just seemed like a fairly positive step for me, rather than I dunno trying to brush it under the table or something.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would rather sit in the car, hungry, than let that place have any of my money. I won't put up with my racist relatives, either.

Fair enough. But my relatives aren't eating there because they're racist. They're eating there because it's familiar. I've long realized that not everyone in my family has the same sense of social injustice I do but to generalize them as racist is a bit shitty.
posted by Kitteh at 6:12 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was disappointed that the big sign at the entrance linked in six-or-six-thirty's comment said nothing about LGBT being welcome. Also: mudpuppie, please share your recipe with us!
posted by Daddy-O at 6:15 AM on July 23, 2013


When I frame it as wanting to support local businesses and keep my money in the community, my relatives are a lot more open to the idea of not-Cracker Barrel, not-Walmart, etc. If you find yourself in these kinds of situations a lot, it might be worth a try.
posted by box at 6:17 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was disappointed that the big sign at the entrance linked in six-or-six-thirty's comment said nothing about LGBT being welcome.

I'm disappointed they need a sign to say they strive to be decent human beings.

When I frame it as wanting to support local businesses and keep my money in the community, my relatives are a lot more open to the idea of not-Cracker Barrel, not-Walmart, etc. If you find yourself in these kinds of situations a lot, it might be worth a try.

This really is a compelling argument when you look at it. My new job is working with economists. I get bored waiting for installers or diagnostics to finish, so I read the things people put on their walls. I could go look and get it correct, but when you spend your dollar at Wal-mart $0.15 stays in the community. When spent at a local small business something like $0.60 does. Certain items have more impact.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:02 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


We used to stop at Cracker Barrels when I was a kid and we were road tripping down to Disney World. I think the only reason I ever wanted to go there was for the little peg-jumping solitaire games at the tables. I have no recollection of the food whatsoever.

When I was in high school they started popping up around our house in New Jersey, which I found odd since I always associated them with trips to the South. Now they seem to be everywhere.

I would eat there now if I was on a road trip and didn't have any info on local options

I feel like that's sort of a solved problem at this point, though, right? I mean, something like 3/4 of all cell phones in America are smartphones, so it's become almost trivially easy to ask Siri to find you some good food. Then again, I'm one of those people that won't travel more than a quarter mile off the highway for anything, so finding good dining options within that proximity to an off-ramp can be challenging.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:28 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen valomilk and other regional/old fashioned candy in the VT country store catalog.
posted by brujita at 7:49 AM on July 23, 2013


I feel like that's sort of a solved problem at this point, though, right? I mean, something like 3/4 of all cell phones in America are smartphones, so it's become almost trivially easy to ask Siri to find you some good food. Then again, I'm one of those people that won't travel more than a quarter mile off the highway for anything, so finding good dining options within that proximity to an off-ramp can be challenging.

This is pretty much it, in a nutshell (which is why most Cracker Barrels are located next to interstates).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:17 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What the hell am I supposed to do with fresh okra?

MAKE GUMBO!
posted by crazy_yeti at 8:32 AM on July 23, 2013


Don't under estimate the appeal of things being right by the clean, predictable, and right by the highway. I once spent half an hour trying to find a good local restaurant where my mother-in-law was dead set on eating, despite the fact that we were still had three hours of driving to do, and she was trying to catch a plane. It was madness; we should have just stopped at a chain we could find like normal people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:35 AM on July 23, 2013


I'm disappointed they need a sign to say they strive to be decent human beings.

I agree in some ways, but I don't feel as if it's them asking for a cookie or anything; it seemed to me to be actually sort of a warning or a heads-up that this behavior could exist and also there is an easily accessible way to report it and an implication that they will be proactive in trying to set it right. If the fact is that they have had an issue in their company with blatant racism and really piss-poor behavior, is it better that they've essentially called attention to that fact and tried to let customers know that they're trying to change it, or just to quietly brush it under the rug?

Anyway it seemed better than nothing. I'm not saying they should win an award or anything but not many restaurants (correct me if I'm wrong but I haven't seen it) have this sort of statement hung up in their entrance--though I understand that their pretty strongly racist past sort of requires it moreso than other institutions. At the same time...

I was disappointed that the big sign at the entrance linked in six-or-six-thirty's comment said nothing about LGBT being welcome.

Yeeeaaahhhh... this would be a lovely thing. Unfortunately I don't see it happening anytime soon.

I honestly think it'd be very nice if most restaurants and businesses had signs explicitly saying hey look all of these people are welcome here. Not just because it would be a reminder that minority groups are in a safe space, but because it would also be a warning to other customers that they can shove their various -ist opinions and feelings up their ass and if they can't handle it that they should go elsewhere because such opinions or behavior are decidedly not welcome.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:35 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And every time I drive by the Cracker Barrel, the parking lot is full.
I don't understand it.


They're not eating what they're eating. They're eating what they think they're eating.

Seeming = marketing = God.

Went out with some cousins to visit one of my elderly relatives whos been out of the country for a while. We talked about fishing, hiking, etc. How you can only get gear online which is a pain since you can't feel it in your hand sort of thing.
He said: "Why don't you go to Abercrombie?"
Ah, Ha Ha Ha Haaaa! Ohh.

I can't wait to go to Cabela's in 30-odd years and have a GM salmonid, cup of cowfee in a 'genuine' storage locker (American Pickers!) looking at a sign that says "we don't discriminate against nongender asexual replicants" in an authentic 2013 setting. iPhones on the wall. Holographs of 'natural' animals. Shopping carts. Chunks of the WTC. Liquid gasoline. Goddamn Nexus 3's Physical-Cs (3 feet tall) all dressed as ASIMO's serving cheese in a can and soylent crackers.

But hell, worth going for all the cosplayers.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:07 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What? Why would you slice the okra before battering and frying? All the snot will ooze out. I WANT MY HOT SNOT CONTAINED WITHIN A CRISP SHELL.
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on July 23, 2013


Also sometimes they explode which is quite festive.
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on July 23, 2013


By popular demand, both in thread and via MeMail, here is the Potato/Okra Hash recipe.

You’ll need:

Potatoes (red or white, not russets)
Onion
Garlic
Fresh chile pepper of your choice (I use jalapeno or Serrano), or bell pepper if you prefer
Okra
A couple tablespoons of uncooked polenta or grits (not instant)

1) Make a basic small-dice home fry. Cut potatoes into 1/2”-cubes. Add to hot oil in a sauté pan. (Bonus points for using Grandma’s cast iron.)

2) When potatoes are brown on one side, add diced onion, as much garlic as you can stand chopping, and chile/bell pepper. Continue to sauté until potatoes are tender and other vegetables are cooked. Remove potatoes from skillet and set aside.

3) Prepare okra. If you’re not familiar with cooking okra, here is the cardinal rule: DO NOT LET THE OKRA COME IN CONTACT WITH MOISTURE OF ANY SORT. After you wash the whole pods, set them aside on paper towels. Do not cut the pods until they’re fully dry.

4) Cut okra. Slice the okra (1/2” slices) into a bowl. Wipe your knife off with a paper towel after every few pods – you don’t want to be cutting the okra with a moist knife.

5) Toss okra with uncooked polenta/grits to coat. This will be a light coating – basically whatever sticks.

6) Put okra into hot, shallow oil with a slotted spoon. (You don’t want all the excess polenta/grits in there or else you’ll have a burned mess.) Shallow fry the okra to desired doneness.

7) When okra is cooked, add the potato mixture back to the pan. And heat through.

8) Hash accomplished.

At this point, you can add some fresh cherry tomatoes if it’s that time of year, or you can leave it unadorned.

Also optional: Cumin, if you want to go that way.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:25 AM on July 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


I wrote:
I would rather sit in the car, hungry, than let that place have any of my money. I won't put up with my racist relatives, either.

Kitteh replied:
Fair enough. But my relatives aren't eating there because they're racist. They're eating there because it's familiar. I've long realized that not everyone in my family has the same sense of social injustice I do but to generalize them as racist is a bit shitty.

I would like to publicly apologize for writing my comment in such a way that it could be interpreted as implying something about your relatives. I certainly didn't mean to do that and I'm very sorry it happened.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:06 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


So now that I really think about it, it's kinda depressing that the reuse-repurpose-reuse-repurpose thriftiness that was a product of their crushing rural poverty is now a restaurant sales gimmick, and grist for popular cable shows.

oh lord but we've got country pride
posted by FatherDagon at 11:05 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks mudpuppie!
posted by Big_B at 12:20 PM on July 23, 2013


...as a vegetarian, I like that there are a lot of veggie options for me.

Oh no. I have bad news for you, six-or-six-thirty. There is a very good reason my slogan for Cracker Barrel is "Where Even the Ice Water Contains Bacon."
posted by jocelmeow at 3:29 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a very good reason my slogan for Cracker Barrel is "Where Even the Ice Water Contains Bacon."

I realize that your goal was to disincentivize the place for six-or-six-thirty, but that statement probably will draw more people that it repels on the interwebs.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:54 PM on July 23, 2013


Oh no. I have bad news for you, six-or-six-thirty. There is a very good reason my slogan for Cracker Barrel is "Where Even the Ice Water Contains Bacon."

I appreciate the concern, but I'm always very careful about asking (blatantly--no meat broth? no seasoning?) and am pretty deliberate about what I choose--fruit, for example, and biscuits, baked potatoes, and mac and cheese generally seem like pretty safe bets. I'm aware of the list and abide by it; maybe I was just lucky, but the first time I asked I got that information up front.

It seems like places that serve 'home style' food in particular seem to insist on shoving meat into everything. It might sound surprising but even with all of the bacon everywhere Cracker Barrel still offers me more vegetarian options than most chain restaurants, even if almost all of them are sides.

It sucks that that person's experience was so misleading and crappy but to be honest that's about the sort of vegetarian experience I get at most chain restaurants. It'd be nice if that changed someday.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:01 PM on July 23, 2013


That person's experience makes me wonder: when people go to big chain restaurants, how much do they generally expect the people working there to know about the food?
posted by box at 7:09 PM on July 23, 2013


when people go to big chain restaurants, how much do they generally expect the people working there to know about the food?

Honestly, just from experience, not much. I mean I would expect it given that they're back there cooking the food, but from what I've dealt with people generally aren't very knowledgable. A lot of people in certain pockets still don't even really seem to know what 'vegetarian' means, let alone vegan. But if someone comes back without a lot of hesitation and can actually offer details the chances that you're in the clear (re: food ingredients and cooking environment) are pretty good.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 1:30 PM on July 24, 2013


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