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This is Jerome. He is one of my oldest friends. Him, Fernand and Jason, I am not sure whom I became close with first. Anyways, I have this picture on the mantle in my bedroom, everyone usually thinks a got it from a garage sale.

Actually I stole it from Jerome’s house one night whilst on acid. The story behind the picture is that one day Jerome’s mom asked him about the neighbor’s daughter. Jerome didn’t hang out with her, nor did he care about her. Jerome’s mom informed Jerome that the girl did not have a date to the dance; Jerome was still unfazed… until his mom told him that she told the mom that Jerome would take her. They go back and forth and finally come to an agreement. Jerome would take the girl to the dance and in return his mom would buy him $100 worth of cd’s.

Apparently this picture is the only time during the dance that the girl even said a word to him. You should have seen me with a head full of acid just laughing hysterically. I didn’t even realize it was him. Jerome didn’t dress like that, I mean where were they headed after the dance… to a Kid n Play concert?

Either way, so I got a call from him this morning. It’s been a few months and I was just in Houston six weeks ago, and I didn’t call him. I tell him whilst there I ate at a place called the Hickory Hollow. Place had bangin brisket and link sausage. Last time I was there I asked if they shipped and they said no. Wow…no shipping eh.

I ordered two pounds of hickory smoked link sausage to go, which I brought back with me to New York. While on the phone with Jerome I mentioned that I just had my mom ship me another three pounds of sausage and a pound of brisket. The place is an old BBQ spot that my Mom’s wife’s parents used to go. This is republican turf, not just any republicans… these were Texas republicans. Long sleeve dress shirts with the top two buttons undone with blue jeans and their hair parted to the side.

Jerome mentioned going to the one over in the Heights just a few weeks earlier and said he was getting stares like he was the scum of the earth. This is old school Texas country, and racism still goes strong. But more than that I always wonder if that has something to do with the flavor of the food. Hatred and flavor, I have a theory that there is a link between the two.

I remember working at the cornershop on Sixth and Howard in SF, and in there we had these two dyke girls, Angie and Marylene. Angie did most of the cooking, beef ribs, pork ribs, smothered pork chops, collards, neck bones, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, She had it all down pat. One thing I remember noticing is that the angrier she got, the spicier the food got. There had to be a link.

There is another time in which I remember talking to hippy dippy friends about how there was no such thing as country food in California, and definitely not in spacey flakey SF of all places. One place my white stoner friends always mentioned was a spot called Kate’s Kitchen. “oh J, they got country food … you can get biscuits and gravy, its good.”

Kate’s Kitchen was run by a bunch of white, free-sprited kids who wanted to make healthy country food. God that sounds terrible, but I went. I am never above being wrong, and honestly would love to be wrong more than I am. It’s not easy being right so much of the time, but I can’t help it. I guess I will have to live with it.

I go to Kate’s with a few friends and order grits with biscuits and gravy. Our waiter is some black dude. The environment is relaxed, the food comes out swiftly, and it taste like garbage. I take a few bites, decide I don’t like. It’s fine, I’m not one to make a stink, I just send it back. He notices I haven’t eaten it and ask’s if there was a problem. I just say I didn’t think it was very good. We talk for a sec and I tell him I’m from Texas, yadda yadda yadda, and my friends swore the place was legit and so I figured I would come give it a try. At one point the waiter looks at me and says “well if you were black, I would have told you so”. Thank you. My friends laugh, and I appreciate his honesty. He has just validated my position.

Nice people, lame food… Where does he eat I wonder. He must know where the good country/soul food is at. I look for these places, and you know the best one’s are the one’s that don’t serve white people. That’s when you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Here’s the test: if you walk in during the middle of the dinner rush, say seven o’clock. You go up to the counter and they look you dead in the eye and say “kitchens closed”, that’s it, then you have found a place thats legit. Just call one of your black friends to pick up some food for you.

The Hickory Hollow