15 June 2006


Greens, Eggs, and Ham

I was recently on the road (again) for my mom's family's reunion on Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama (pics here). Spent that night in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, with my brother Dan and his wife Suzie and their sons Sam and Mike (pics here). Drove to Nashville the next day via the Natchez Trace Parkway (pics here), ending up on Highway 100, which was the road from my home town Centerville to Nashville, near the Loveless Motel and Cafe.

The Loveless Cafe has been serving country ham, homemade biscuits, and homemade jams for years. It was a functioning motel back in the day. Rusty Bates, Steve Anderson, and I stayed there one night coming home from a concert (Alice Cooper, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and two more groups -- I know: Alice Cooper and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the same bill, but I believe I am not confused) at the Fairgrounds Speedway, Nashville, in the summer of 1972. Rusty's car (197x Gran Torino?) was flakey, it was foggier than getout, and we were probably not in the most secure mental state. (I think I had had my appendix removed about a week prior, too, so whatever we were doing was probably enhanced.) The motel is gone now, replaced by shops for... country ham and jams and barbecue and Loveless Motel t-shirts (got one) etc.

My lunch was country ham and eggs, greens, and fried okra. And biscuits and jam. Everything was as it should be except that the okra was battered instead of just being coated in corn meal.

If I remember correctly, the original owners of the Loveless Motel and Cafe moved to Hickman County (my home county) and started up The Beacon Light, another fine place to sit down and have... country ham and biscuits and homemade jams etc. (But, check out the fried okra in the image at the link. Again, battered. I'm sorry, okra should be tossed in corn meal, salt, and pepper, and fried in a hot cast iron skillet. Battering okra is just wrong. One man's opinion.)

I can't complain about the food that was available to me growing up.

More: Here's a review of both The Loveless Cafe and The Beacon Light.

Thanks for the link to the review.

The reviewer's visit must have taken place before TomKats catering assumed ownership of the Loveless and cleaned the place up, overhauled the menu somewhat, and (I'm told) yuppified it by a...um...country mile.

My last memory of the Loveless is the more-sensed-than-seen layer of grime and gunk, accumulated through many long years of smoky, greasy food prep. As a native child, that element used to mean that you were in for some seriously tasty Southern country food. Now, it's just kind of gross.

I've not been to the Tomkats-owned, revamped Loveless.

I went to the Beacon Light with my family, when I was ten or eleven years old. At that time, the nighttime trek out Highway 100 seemed like an awfully long time, into the next county...which, as you stated, it actually was. It felt much more remote, a small and warm haven deep in the cold, dark woods. My father said that he thought the place was named from a long-gone country airstrip, with its beacon light for whatever small plane traffic they had. I remember thinking the ham and biscuits, unlike the Loveless even then, were a lot more like something I would eat at my great-aunt Ezzie's, a tough but kind old farm woman who died in nineteen seventy-one at the age of ninety-three.

Something about your posts compel me to write insanely long comments, more suited to my own blog.
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