Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Dec. 12, 2012 - 12:03 p.m.

White Lightnin' and Throwed Rolls


I'm deep in the heart of darkest Ozarkistan right now, having flown into Springfield, MO yesterday to visit NewWifey(tm) who's still helping her mom just down the line in Arkasas.

They picked me up at the airport (where security consisted of an elderly lady on a stool that said "Security" eating a bowl of Rice Crispies) and we immediately drove to Lambert's Cafe and their famous "throwed rolls". Wifey was all excited to have me experience the thrill of catching an actual dinner roll heaved at me from across the room by a smartly dressed young waiter.

It was fun, and I was 4 for 4 catching them. The food was pretty good too, although a bit...beige. There was a piece of parsley on the plate, but everything else was various shades of bread color. What was most impressive though was THE INSANE FUCKING PORTIONS. I had something beige (chicken fried steak? hawg jowels? eggplant?) and it arrived in a 12-inch saute pan. The entree-thing covered the bottom of the pan, and nesting on top was a bowling ball made out of mashed potatoes. It was all covered in beige flavored gravy.

In case that wasn't enough, a steady procession of other smartly dressed wait staff circulated around the room with gigantic stock pots of beige sides. My wife loves fried okra, and when we asked for a scoop from the mountain when it arrived they ladled it onto a paper towel right on the table. My beige beans they did at least put in my saute pan, since I'd created some space by then.

Turns out I love beige food. Who knew? I even bought a souvenier foam Throwed Roll to throw to Casey the WonderCorgi(tm) when I get home.

After lunch we drove the rest of the way to Norfork, stopping along the way at Neighbor's Breads for some more homemade baked beige goods, which we had for breakfast this morning.

But the absolute highlight of the trip so far happened last night, about an hour before going to bed. My mother in law called me into the kitchen and pulled two bottles out of the fridge. One was a pint bottle of gin with the lable badly scratched off and filled with a really syrupy looking clear liquid. The other was a plastic Pepsi bottle topped up with some light brown stuff.

"Barton wanted you to have these" she said. "It's real moonshine."

I knew my just-deceased father-in-law, Barton, had an interest in home distilling, although it was purely an academic interest (he always told me, anyway). A couple of years ago I gave him the book set "Mountain Spirits 1 & 2" for Christmas, and from where I sit I can see them now on the shelf, well worn. He had some tales of his own regarding moonshiners. Most were from his youth, but a number were...not. I kinda assumed he had a source but was too discrete to ask directly, and he never offered. Out here that appears to be "The Code". Sort of like us Italians in New Jersey when it comes to missing bodies.

Now I've drunk a lot of stupid things in my life. I went to college, after all. But I really thought long and hard before cracking the cap on that defaced gin flask.

When I finally did and poured a shot out into the cracked Branson novelty mug with Dolly Parton as the Virgin Mary, I really was struck by how viscous the liquid was. You know how if you stick vodka in freezer for a while it doesn't freeze, but pours more like thin maple syrup? This stuff was like that, but at room temp.

I stared at the mug for maybe a minute before even touching it. I've read so many articles about antifreeze adulturation and people being stricken blind or gay at the merest taste that it gave me serious pause.

But of course, I drank it.

And I'm still here to write about it! (And at least still marginally straight. I think).

I've gotta fess up, I did give an involuntary cough when it first went down. I pride myself on not doing that, no matter how corrosive the drink. But this stuff is in another league, and it caught me by suprise. I don't know what the proof was, but I suspect I could tame it by cutting it with Everclear.

Ten seconds later I had the almost overwhelming urge to have a bowel movement. That I did manage to supress, thankfully.

Once that first shock was over though, there was a surprising blossoming of sweet, even floral flavors in my mouth that I could definitely pin as having come from corn. It was really pretty good, if you've got the constitution for it.

So...on to the brown stuff. In the plastic "Pepsi" bottle.

This 'shine was a bit less viscous, a bit less alcoholic. Maybe 180 proof. It had an initial kick like the straight corn likker, but the aftertaste was like a cross between scotch and Jack Daniels. I think whoever distilled it probably added some caramel for color, and...I have no idea, for those flavors. It wasn't Top Shelf when all is said and done, but for homemade stuff in an old Pepsi bottle it was a pretty impressive effort.

I now sympathize with the Whiskey Rebellion rebels. Down with the revenuers!

Ok, gotta wrap this up. I'm using my MIL's computer in the half hour break she takes from uploading grandchildren pictures to her Facebook page every day. Tonight we're going into Mountain Home for some more (beige) food and maybe catch a yodelling concert or something. I love this place, it's beautiful and friendly and moonshiners roam free.

But somebody really needs to tell them that there are more green vegetables grown in the world than parsley. And salt and pepper does not constitute a "full" spice rack. Seriously, I'd kill for an asparagus spear right now....

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