The adventures of an American lover of all things French...
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
I miss Mayberry
Okay, if you are a Rascal Flatts fan then you know I stole borrowed the title of one of their songs. I don’t think they will get upset when they read today’s blogpost. I think they will be honored. I have been in a bit of a blue mood the past few days. I’ve recently read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. (more about those book in a later post- they deserve their own) I’ve been very bothered by the news that the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC earned $3.5 million in compensation in 2016. I am trying not worry too much about things that I cannot control. Really I am. Therefore, I am going to a happy place and taking you along for the ride.
The Ex-Ex and I decided to take a couple of days to explore Mount Airy, the town that inspired the Andy Griffith Show’s fictional town of Mayberry. I read an article about hiking at Pilot Mountain (or Mount Pilot in TV-land) and we thought that sounded like fun. It was amazing.
You can’t hike all the way to the top- that’s for climbers. But you can hike all around the base.
We did it early in the morning before the 90˚F+ temperature set in.
Back to Mayberry. As a young’un, I thought that the Andy Griffith Show was only shown in North Carolina. This was back in the days of three TV stations, television programming signed off after the 11:00 news and the national anthem played, and a TV set was a real piece of furniture.
And shows were in black and white. Yep, that’s how old I am. I now know that New Yorkers, Nebraskans and Delawareans were also watching. I wonder what they thought of us in North Carolinians. Not that I care, truthfully. Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Mr. Griffith, always taught a lesson, mostly to son Opie, played by Ron Howard, and to his deputy, Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts. All in a 30 minute time slot. Add in a few other characters:
Aunt Bea, who showed up in the first episode to help take care of Andy and Opie. There was never much mention of Opie’s ma, except to say that she had died.
Floyd, the ditzy barber (I saw this t-shirt at a wine festival)
Otis Campbell, the lovable town drunk who would just lock himself in his cell after he got loaded
Howard Sprague, the county clerk, a mama’s boy
Gomer, a gas station attendant with an amazing singing voice (Grandma Christine loved him and had fantasy lunches with him) who later went on to have his own show after he joined the Marines
Goober, Gomer’s cousin who also worked at Wally’s
Miss Crump, a school teacher who later married Andy
Thelma Lou, Barney’s main squeeze (she is still alive and was signing autographs the day we were at the Andy Griffith Museum- we didn’t want to wait in line or pay to get one but later saw a lady who had an autograph on her pink purse)
The Darlins, a musical family of hillbillies who periodically came to town, usually bringing moonshine with them as I recall
Ernest T. Bass, a wiry little hillbilly who had a penchant for throwing rocks and climbing trees (I have a second cousin who reminds me of Ernest T)
There were others, but these are the ones I remember the most.
Andy Griffith lived in Mount Airy until he left to attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. You can even rent out his family home and spend the night there.
At his recently renovated museum, I learned that he was a teacher at Goldsboro High School for a few years. Who knew? Not me. Quite a few of his personal belongings were donated to the museum. His guitar-
Some evenings after supper, Sheriff Taylor would sit on the porch and play.
There are also quite a few things from the set of the show. The doors to the courthouse/jail-
The one artifact that I found especially touching is the white suit that Andy Griffith wore for his part in Brad Paisley’s video for the song Waitin’ on a Woman. The video was filmed in 2008, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where Andy spent his final years.
Paisley’s 2012 interview with the Los Angeles Times tells the story of how it came about. Andy passed away four years after the video was made. I double dog dare you not to shed at least one tear watching it. Rest in peace, Mr. Griffiths.
While we were in Mayberry Mount Airy, we had breakfast at Snappy Lunch, made famous in the TV show. It is the only real place in Mount Airy mentioned on the show.
According to the fellow sharing the lunch counter with us at Snappy, a local, Snappy was delivering lunches to the local high school, which was just up the street back in the day, for years before the school got a cafeteria. It is quite famous for its pork chop sandwich, which Our State magazine has written about, even suggesting it should be our State Sandwich.
So, I had one for breakfast.
I didn’t expect to be wowed. Just a fried boneless pork chop, with slaw, a tomato slice, chili and mustard on a regular old hamburger bun, right? I loved every bite. Truly. I would go back just to have another one. And I vote YES! A young guy stands in the window and cooks the pork chops for all the passers-by to watch. Snappy keeps short hours, opening around 6:00 am and closing around 2:00 pm, it isn’t open on Sundays and it isn’t very big. It has two rooms for eaters, the front room filled mostly with locals (and us at the counter) and tourists in the room to the side, it seemed. The Pork Chop Sandwich costs $4.20. I got a bag of chips with mine- no fries that day.
I love the Appalachian State hat! Go Mountaineers!
I found a blog, Happy Hodgepodge Home, with a recipe for the sandwich. Try it if you would like. I don’t think I am going to try it myself. I want the memory of the sandwich to be unsullied by my own feeble attempts at reproducing it. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. Might be best to have it with a Cheerwine, a drink concocted in Salisbury, NC in 1917. (I’ve seen advertisements for a Krispy Kreme Cheerwine doughnut, but I haven’t had one. Yet.) I did find a recipe for a Cheerwine Pound Cake in an article in Our State. This might be worth a try! Who doesn’t love pound cake?
Cheerwine Pound Cake
Makes one 10-inch cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Cheerwine soft drink
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Red food coloring gel, as desired (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch, light-colored metal tube (angel food) pan, tapping out any excess flour. (A dark metal or heavy Bundt pan will make the crust too dark and thick and will interfere with the baking time.)
2. Beat the butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer set to high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Whisk together the flour and salt in another large bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the Cheerwine, beating only until the batter is smooth after each addition. Quickly beat in the lemon and almond extract.
5. If you want the cake to have a deep pink color that suggests Cheerwine, tint the batter with the gel. Start with a little and work up to the desired shade, keeping in mind that a large amount of food coloring can make the cake taste bitter.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
7. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cake onto the rack and let cool to room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you wish.
Maybe you could make a drizzled sort of icing with confectioners’ sugar and Cheerwine? Just thinking here. Haven’t tried it.
Bon appétit to all! If you’ve never been to Mount Airy or Pilot Mountain, go! I bet it is beautiful in the fall, when the leaves change color. Be ready for a charming small town and very nice Southern folk. But before you go, watch a few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Goober says Hey! If you are lucky and it’s a Saturday morning, maybe these guys will be sitting around playing some old songs.