The Vanishing Southern Cafeteria

Cafeterias seem to be vanishing in the deep South. Rick Bragg describes his memorable cafeteria meals where the collards were perfect, the beans were never gunky, and the chicken was never dry.


Hi, I'm Rick Bragg, and I want to talk to you a little bit about the vanishing Southern cafeteria. When I was a little boy, every town had something like it. Any town of some size. And if you went to town, if you went to. If you went to, to Montgomery or Birmingham or Anniston or Gadsden, there was always that place. Sometimes it was a chain like Morrisons, that had you know, the best jalapeno cornbread you ever tasted. You know, good fried chicken. Liver and onions, the only place on the planet I've ever eaten liver and onions. And they've dwindled a bit. They've dwindled a bit. I still dream about jalapeno cornbread from Morrison's. I guess probably the, the mecca of, Southern cafeterias is here in Birmingham, now people want to fight me over this. But the, the mecca has to be Mickeys on Family Ave., I guess people call it Mickeys West, but. The only place that I know. For you can see a line a hundred yards long. And get your plate 3.5 minutes later, where the collards are always perfect, where the, the vegetables literally came off the truck a hundred yards away. Where the white beans never get gunkier. Or, or the, the you know, chicken never gets dry. And that's the reason to come to Birmingham. I used to actually look forward to coming to see my doctor Even if it was for something terrible. Just because I knew, when I was done, even if he gave me a lecture about cholesterol, even if he told me I was about to die, I was going to go by Nikki's on Finely before it was all over. Someone with a short temper should never get in line at At Nickies own family because, it's not for either timid people or people who with a white hot reaction to what they might see is a tad of rudeness. When they kind of bark at you, can I help you, can I help you, can I help you, and, but they do it kind of like saying. You better let me help you, I actually took someone there who got angry enough to fight them. I said you know, I should take my time well you can't take your time when you got 300 people breathing down your neck coming up behind you.
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