Earlier this week, when I opened the cupboard and found nothing but dust bunnies, and knew that the only thing in my fridge was a bottle of mustard and a root beer ice pop in the freezer, all I wanted was a plate of good food that tasted like home. Not a big going-out-to-eat ordeal with a hostess to walk us to our table, a long menu to sort through, and servers to listen to. I just wanted a good, simple home-cooked meal… from someone else’s kitchen. And because we recently sold our kitchen table (in preparation for moving), I also wanted to eat it at someone else’s table.
And for that, we went to Mama’s Food Shop. It certainly didn’t taste like anything my mama ever made (i.e. because it was actually de-friggin’-licious) but the slamming screen door, ceiling fan circulating warm air and the homey dishes our food was served on made it feel like I was over at someone’s home. Somewhere far away from the city, in the south maybe.
Mama’s is simple. You can have basics like chicken (roasted or fried), meatloaf, tilapia and pork shoulder. With that you get sides: collard greens, mashed potatos, corn bread, mac n’ cheese and potato salad to name a few. There’s no waitress. but it’s definitely not fast food either. You just order up at the front and take your plate to your table. It’s no frills and it’s great.
There were lots of veggie side options but I went in with the ol’ go-big-or-go-home mentality and got the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. I’m not a huge fried chicken fan in that I rarely order it and don’t even really crave it often but this fried chicken was incredible! I’m not only going to crave this from now on, I’m going to dream of it when I sleep and fantasize about eating buckets and buckets of it when I’m awake. (If my eyes are glazed over and I’m drooling, now you know what I’m thinking about.) The chicken meat (I went with white over dark) was tender and juicy, but what made this fried chicken phenomenal was hands down the thick, crunchy, batttered, seasoned-with-herbs-and spices fried skin. Not rubbery or fatty, just perfectly crisp with little bits of rosemary like I’ve never seen on fried chicken before. This was NOT the colonel’s recipe, that’s for sure.
The mac and cheese was pretty good too because it tasted like the real, homemade stuff you’d eat at a family gathering. (Again, not my family gatherings because we had the “blue box blues,” but you know, some other family with awesome mac and cheese at their gatherings.) It was creamy but not overly cheesy. The best part was the slightly browned cheese on top of the macaroni, which added a new dimension to the texture of this all time favorite side of mine.
Flaneur, channeling his inner Southerner (he has family from pretty “southern” parts of Florida, and by “southern” I don’t mean geographically) also got the fried chicken but skipped the extra helping of carbs and dairy and went with double veggie sides: green beans and collard greens. The green beans were slightly sweet and were a good firmness, not mushy or too tough. The collard greens had an earthy, comforting taste that was a mix of savory and almost bitter.
Lastly, a note about portions. They’re huge. With the amount of food on my plate alone, both of us could have eaten and been totally satisfied. But just like my mama serves food (i.e. in giant heaps and loads), that wasn’t the case. After the mountain of fried chicken and mac and cheese I wolfed down, I was about to fall into a food coma. Now if only my own mama’s food was that delicious.