Fast food nation

Last weekend we travelled down to East Tennessee en famille to see The Special One’s nearest and dearest. And a very pleasant time was had by all, celebrating the 90th birthday of GeeGeeBee. But after all the family excesses, The Special One and I gleefully seized with open arms the opportunity to spend an hour or two of solitude together. If that makes any sense.

Given that it was lunchtime, a nice meal on the town was clearly the order of the day. Having had pizza from The Best Pizza Joint Ever (my name, not theirs) the night before, we had to look further afield than normal for our sustenance. But when it comes down to it, once you get outside the (many) major cities of America – sweeping generalization alert! – your meal options decrease rapidly.

Looking for somewhere to spend a romantic stolen lunch together, The Special One and I were presented with a mile of back-to-back restaurants that lined up as follows: McDonalds, Taco Bell, Applebee’s, Krystal’s, Wendy’s and Sonic. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which an Applebee’s is considered an upmarket option, but you can’t argue with the greatness of boneless buffalo wings.

In the end, we opted for the sixth member of the Fast Food Mile, a chain called Long John Silver’s. Now, I’ve heard of Burger King and McDonalds, and I know Taco Bell, KFC, Domino’s and Pizza Hut. I’m cognisant of Wendy’s and Applebee’s, TGI Friday and even White Castle. But Long John Silver’s has completely passed me by.

Yet somehow there are 1200 of these outlets all around the world according to their website. I’m assuming that in this case we’re using the American meaning of “all around the world” which roughly translates as “all around America” but nevertheless it’s a big chain.

Long John Silver’s fame may increase exponentially if ever cars that run off used cooking oil go into mass production. This place could become the BP or Exxon of the new era, such is their commitment to deep frying. I didn’t go into the bathroom, but I assume that the taps were coated in breadcrumbs and that the paper towels were dipped in batter and plunged into scalding hot oil. It all tasted great (what’s not to like about deep fried prawnsshrimps, after all), but it’s one of the few places I’ve ever been where my arteries furred up before I’d even opened the door.

Ten days on, I’m still trying to get the smell out of my clothes. But you can rest assured that I’ll be straight back there next time I’m in Tennessee. Chicken planks and clams, here I come.

7 thoughts on “Fast food nation

  1. jAMiE

    We don’t have them here in Canada, not sure we ever have. I’ve heard of them though…and there was a question about them on Who Wants to be a Millionaire the other day, asking about where you’d get chicken planks.

    Now i know.

  2. Dylan

    I think a chicken plank is a chicken nugget or a chicken tender as they call them here. I’d like to think that it is a piece of chicken used by pirates to march mutinous chickens to their watery grave, but that might just be wishful thinking.

    The Waffle House you say? I think I need to know more. Although I’ve always found waffles a bit cake-y for my liking. Now if they served potato waffles, I might agree…

  3. Jonathan Jones

    “Planks” are what Long John Silver’s calls slabs of chicken or fish. It’s in keeping with the Treasure Island theme of the restaurant.

    Never having been to the U.K., I always assumed that Long John Silver’s is roughly what the British call a “fish and chips” restaurant. Was I wrong?

    I’m going there for the first time next week (on business), so I’ll find out soon enough.

  4. Dylan

    Nice to see you back on the blog, Jonathan. Hope you’re looking forward to your trip to the UK – whereabouts are you going?

    And no, fish and chip shops are nothing like Long John Silvers…everything is much fresher and tastes like proper food. Not that I don’t like Long John Silvers – it’s just like comparing McDonalds with a great steakhouse.

    Make sure you get proper fish and chips while you’re there…I promise you won’t regret it!

  5. Jonathan Jones

    We’re making stops in Birmingham, Cambridge, and Guildford. I’m unfortunately not going to get to spend much down-time there, but trying “proper” fish and chips will be my number-one priority. I’m looking forward to it.

    As for Waffle House, I think Sarcasmom may have been living up to her name on that one. Waffle House is pretty much the canonical “greasy spoon”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greasy_spoon

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