Tag Archives: Tennessee

What does a man have to do to get a beer around here?

Ordering alcohol is never easy for me when I’m in the southern United States. I’m asked for ID on a regular basis, despite the fact that I turned 21 many moons ago, and showing any barman or waiter my British passport generally produces a look of bafflement and wonder. I guess it might be Tennessee’s way of attempting to stop me from drinking in the first place, given that the state still has a number of dry counties. Or no-go zones, as I prefer to call them.

But sometimes all it takes to get a drink is abject humiliation.

On a flight from Washington DC to Knoxville on Wednesday evening, the flight attendant and her trolley made their way down the aisle of the tiny plane offering free fizzy popsoda, or alcoholic drinks for $6. No tiny bags of free snacks, sadly – one man who asked for some pretzels received a slightly embarrassed reply of “Sorry, United got rid of them a while ago.”

A couple of people had opted for a late night beer by the time the trolley got to me, and after five hours of hanging around airports, I decided to get the Thanksgiving party started in a similar way (safe in the knowledge that my passport was in my back pocket, in case any age-related concerns were brought up). Putting aside my annoyance at paying six dollars for something available for less than a dollar in a supermarket, I waited for my turn.

Attendant: “Can I get you a drink from the trolley?”

Brit Out Of Water: “That would be great. Can I have a beer, please?”

Attendant: “Pardon?”

Brit Out Of Water: “A beer please.”

Attendant: “Sorry?”

Brit Out Of Water (face reddening as people start to listen in): “A beer.”

Attendant: “What is it you would like sir?”

Brit Out Of Water (desperation setting in as fellow passengers start to laugh): “A beer. You know, a beer. A beer.”

Attendant: “Erm, I’m sorry sir, I don’t think we have…”

[Brit Out Of Water bends down, opens the bottom drawer of the trolley and gesticulates wildly at the cans within]

Attendant: “Oh, a beer! Why didn’t you say…”

Now, I admit that the British tend to pronounce the word that denotes “an alcoholic drink containing water, grain, hops and yeast” as ‘bee-err’ and Americans pronounce it more like ‘byurrrrgh’. But nonetheless, most flyers know that their drinks options are limited to a very few options, and so it wasn’t as if I was going to be asking for a glass of Château Pétrus (1929 preferably, although I hear that the 1961 is drinking very well at the moment). But that British accent just keeps getting in the way of day-to-day life, it would seem.

On the way back yesterday, a different attendant approached with the trolley on our delayed flight back to New York.

Attendant: “Would you like a drink sir?”

Brit Out Of Water: “I’ll have a Heineken, please.”

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.