So I was writing up the first Chownews and all the stuff I was reading and summarizing about Uncle Darrow's was making me so goddamn hungry that I had to cut out of office hours early to go pick up a catfish po boy.
Venice Boulevard branch. Nicest lady *ever* behind the counter. "You ever been hear before honey? No? Would you like some samples?"
Red beans and rice - searing, deep. Jambalaya - strangely gentle. Great sausage. Catfish po boy - beautiful. In that pretty simple straightforward way - the catfish itself wasn't that great - not half as good as Flossie's catfish - but it was crispy and freshly fried, even though I'd come in at 3 PM, the only customer. And it had overall harmony - simple mayo sauce, simple lettuce, simple bread, but all of the appropriate contrasting temperatures and textures - catfish crunchy outside and soft inside, mayo creamy, lettuce crisp, bread also cruncy/soft, just right. And it had this incredible spiciness, the cornmeal batter, that I didn't even realize was part of the catfish until later.
The only place I know that's made me as *happy* is Flossie's, down in Torrance. This has been spoken of many times on this board.
Flossie's is more careful, more elegant, has a greater range of flavors and greater harmony. Uncle Darrow's is simpler, but has a little more of the freshness sparkle.
Flossie's and Uncle Darrow's are clearly the best I've had. I've been to Stevie's. I've been up and down the BBQ places - Tasty Q, Leo's, Phillipe's, Woody's. None of the BBQ places are as *happy* and *good* as Flossie's or Uncle Darrow's.
What is it that makes these places so damn good in that special way that justs makes people all smiles? And why is it that it's so clear to everybody that eats at a good southern place that there is love there, in the cooking, and that the love is an essential ingredient? I'm totally serious here. I leave Yongsusan, I think, "Damn, that was a very skilled chef, and I have had a sublime experience." I leave Flossie's - everybody I know leaves Flossie's - thinking, "Oh crap, there was a lot of love in that, and I'm so happy I could give my car to the next beggar on the street."