Monday, March 16, 2015

March Madness in Montgomery in March

This March has ushered in a greater than usual amount of Madness in the Gump. Especially in the restaurant trade.  According to our Montgomery Advertiser, restaurants were lining up to peacefully open new locations within the historic heart-shaped environs of the Gump.  Why, in our new downtown Foshee development, we see Island Delight, Cuco's and Mama Goldberg's joining the Irish Bred Pub on Dexter.  Happy St. Patty's day by the way to our Irish brethren who marched in Dublin for freedom from British Rule only to be gunned down by machine guns in a stadium in the first "Bloody Sunday."

Up in No-Clo everyone is buzzing about the new Kudzu Noodle Bar and rumors of franchising for them abound ala Zoe's, Chicken Salad Chick and Maki Fresh.  Love those Asian wings bro.
A dramatization of the famous Noodle March projected on the wall at Kudzu. 

Good stuff in there.

The Red Phone to the bar next door in case you have to wait or to reach Chairman Meow.

Then of course we all are geeked up about filling out our brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament featuring not a single mens team any of us care much about. This one looks like a shoo-in for the Kentucky Blue Grass.  And  now they have dumped their PETA un-friendly and endangered species of Wildcat mascot, we can all watch the ASU women complete as we feed our carnivore cats tuna flavored tofu.
A state trooper rustles up some Oklahoma SAE's to get them out of the Gump (Will we ever not have "a long way to go"?)

Last but not least we have been host to some pretty important historic March marches which caused some of our finer restaurants (Central) to be bought out by big wigs.  Bet it was an eye-opening experience for the wait staff when guys with badges started giving them those "voluntary" background checks. (Thankfully my ankle bracelet did not go off).  I am sure everyone's papers were in order and anyone whose papers were not did not show up for work.   Could all the ruckus have been because the guests were a present/former president or just some run of the mill Senators/Congressmen? In any event, whomever it was I heard they raved about Chef Leo's fare.  Did they learn about him on LITG by chance?  Not likely but as Randy Newman sings in Harps and Angels: "You never know". Our little blog does get a few hits from D.C.

Kudzu Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon See reviews in YELP.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No Decent Cubans Up Here?

Current events concerning the recognition of Cuba after 50 years of embargo have encouraged me to break my silence about the harmful effects US policy may have had upon this country. You see, I fancy myself a connoisseur of the Cuban.  As a young man in Panama City I was spoiled by easy access to the 2 for $1 Cubans sold from a small stand on the main drag.  These were wonders to behold. Thin slices of "meat" and cheese surrounded by fresh and thin bread with little or no condiments.  They were lovingly made and sold by a refugee Cuban family and were manna from heaven to a working man with a voracious tapeworm.

This was a decade after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and in at least one northwest Florida city (What? you thought I was talking about Central America?) you could find at least one place that could produce an authentic Cuba sandwich. Alas, when I matriculated to the Gump in the 60s, after an exhaustive search for anything approaching the Cuban sandwich of my past, I gave up and relegated myself to the next best thing: the Combination sandwich from Pasquales, the Sahara and finally Corsinos.

The Grand Opening of the Sahara--forerunner of Corsinos--where you could get a Combo sandwich in lieu of a Cuban.

But fast forward under forty years of embargo.  Our brave secretary of state and Vietnam war hero John Kerry now says the embargo harmed America more than Cuba just like building the Berlin Wall hurt East Germany more than the West. Well, as ridiculous as that may sound, there is at least one instance where the embargo hurt the US more than Cuba: We have no decent Cubans up here in the Gump.  Good maybe.  But all the great ones are in Florida.

My brother--a foppish dandy named Basil--has retired with his wife to an upscale "seniors" community near Tampa.  He knows that every time I visit I have to go to the original Columbia restaurant in Ybor City for my Cuban fix. Of course, there they include salami along with the traditional ham and sliced pork which is sometimes called the Tampa variation.  But the mix of Swiss cheese and pickles on the thinly sliced Cuban bread makes a visit to the Columbia a must for me.

There have been heroic attempts to develop Cuban sandwiches here in the Gump and we thank all of those who tried. We mentioned the decent Cuban sandwich at The Wagon Wheel in our very first post back in 2009. That year we reviewed the better Cuban at The Wishbone Cafe. In 2011 we mentioned the ill-conceived Cuban "pannini" at the now-defunct Alley Deli. We explored the "Torta Cubana" at the Latino Super Market Taqueria y Restaurant but--as should be plain--that is not a Cuban sandwich but a Central American sexist parody of Cuban women. In 2012 we thought we finally had hit it big with the Cuban sandwich from the Cantina in the Alley. Unfortunately, the owner died soon after it opened and they closed down. Even the old Olive Room had a fairly good Cuban on the lunch menu back when it was a going concern. Recently, we noted the Ricky Ricardo Cuban Sandwich at Chappy's as a good effort.

But something, perhaps as says John Kerry (Vietnam war hero), was lacking because of the embargo? Were we too many generations removed from real Cuban sandwiches to replicate the originals here in the Gump?

I, obviously, do not pretend to know or understand how the exercise of presidential fiat resulting in the normalization of relations with Cuba will play out. But now with all the uproar concerning the unilateral executive action taken regarding Cuba without Congressional approval aside, I am somewhat hopeful that the normalization of relations with Cuba will eventually lead to the availability of Cuban cigars and authentic Cuban sandwiches in the Gump that will rival the Columbia or Las Olas Cafe on South Beach.

To land this plane let me tell you that it was ironic that today, the dawning of a new age in U.S./Cuban relations, my brother decided to torture me with a text and picture of his Cuban sandwich and 1905 salad from the original Columbia restaurant.  To which I thoughtlessly replied, "We just don't have any decent Cubans up here."  After sending that text I chuckled to myself that someone might take that the wrong way....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Luncheon Dust-Up at Gumpwood CC Proves that Apes Evolved from Club Members

Gumpwood f/k/a MCC: Scene of the Great Poking Incident of 2014
Now that our local Snobatorium located at the terminus of Fairview Avenue is no longer restricted, I have greatly enjoyed many a lunch there at the "Captains Table" in the "Men's Grill" with the manly men at my same station in life.  The  lunch buffet there is truly a thing of culinary beauty reasonably priced. (Aha, the connection to a Lunch in the Gump theme). The conversation is keen, spirited and conservative.  But, as we have previously noted in a prior post, lunch at Gumpwood CC can sometimes involve unabashed buffoonery and perhaps even an occasional kerfuffle. However, the correspondence from the participants in a recent dust-up have documented events so bizarre that acknowledging they occurred at your club would embarrass even the low-born members of what used to be called Bonnie Crest Country Club (soon to be a Wal-Mart) and perhaps even the usual rabble at Sundown East-home of "The Beast."

The protagonists--long time members of Gumpwood and the legal profession (I suppose I now use that term pejoratively)--were former members of the same law firm. One of them, as you will recall from a previous post, has the grace and tact of a Honey Badger. The other has an ego that can fill any room. It has been said they deserved each other as partners. In any event, apparently on Oct. 1, 2014, these two bull moose had to be separated by a Marine staffer after some harsh and profane words were exchanged.  (One wag lamented that instead of separating them the Marine should have furnished each man a trenching tool.) However, due to the Marine's quick and brave action a true altercation was avoided and one would have hoped that when the dust settled these two attorneys would shake hands and make up.

Of course, for one to hope for a civilized resolution of hostilities between these two "gentlemen" it would require complete amnesia of their past history. For in truth, the end of physical hostilities was only the beginning of a bizarre display of literary buffoonery the likes of which Gumpwood has never before seen.

First came the account from the alleged victim of the Honey Badger.  It was written upon his formal law firm letterhead to the president of Gumpwood. It was by and large a blow by blow account of the events written without a hint of embarrassment. After naming all the witnesses to the dust-up, the author recounted that as he returned to the table with a plate of food the Honey Badger yelled: "You Mother F*er don't you ever send me a letter like you sent me or I am going to whip your ass!." Incorrectly thinking it was a joke the victim ignored the Honey Badger. But that only enraged the Honey Badger who pointed his boney finger yelling "You Mother F*er" while charging to the end of the table. The Badger then invited the author to "go outside so I can whip your ass right now."

At this point, perhaps, I should remind you that these two stalwarts of the legal profession are not 17 or 7 but each about 70 years old.

Here I will simply quote the victim:

"Everyone in the room watched (Honey Badger's) tirade. It is well know that (the Honey Badger) carries a pistol in his car and I am now highly nervous at how I am going to be able to use the facilities where I have been going for 40 years. I am over 70, diabetic and have had a triple bypass.  I do not intend to have my life end at Gumpwood Country Club being assaulted by (the Honey Badger), a known bully and blow hard."

The victim ended his correspondence with a plea to the good judgment of the club president as to how to address the "assault" of the Honey Badger ("I actually think his finger poked me in the chest.")  Although criminal charges were considered, the victim developed some modicum of judgment and decided not to press charges because it would only drag his witness friends further into the middle of  "this absurdity."

One would like to also assume the victim's letter was not intended for public consumption.  Not so with the response of the Honey Badger who, after apparently mulling over whether to respond for a few days, on Oct. 7 set the tone of his letter to the club president in the second sentence when he replied with accusations of unethical and deceitful conduct. This letter, and the letter to which it responds, began circulating the internet shortly after Oct. 7.

It got even more personal. The victim's appeal to sympathy due to his age and medical problems carried no weight with the Honey Badger: "I am so sorry [the victim] is a diabetic and I suggest he quit stuffing his fat little toady face and get in shape.  [The victim] being 70 means nothing to me. I am 71 and have chosen not to deteriorate into an amoeba-shaped squid."

The above statements appeared on the letterhead of the same law firm in which the victim had previously been a partner.

Having thoroughly insulted his victim, the Honey Badger went on to essentially agree with every fact set forth by the victim EXCEPT the "poking" claim. While admitting he had about all he could take from "this limaceous cretin," the Honey Badger emphatically denied touching the cretin because: "I learned a long time ago to never put one's hand in garbage."

"See here you limaceous cretin!"
The one bright light in all of this came in the form of an anonymous "editorial" in the "Montgomery Egadvertiser." The editorial first reminded the reader of the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925 which escalated the long standing debate between creationists and evolutionists.  The editorial noted:

"In an ironic twist, a related matter was partially and inadvertently settled during the first week of October in the Men's Grill at the Gumpwood Country Club in Montgomery, Alabama. Two septuagenarian members, while not addressing the question of whether man evolved from monkeys, did prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in at least two instances, monkeys did certainly evolve from human beings. This episode also provides empirical evidence that not having the oxygen level set high enough on your CPAP machine will assuredly result in irreversible brain damage. Furthermore, it debunked the belief that there is no way that the food in the Men's Grill could ever be made any more unappetizing. Spectators report that the events of that day were reminiscent of scenes at the old Copa Club on a Saturday Night at closing time during the 70's. "

The gratuitous dig at the food in the Men's Grill was, in my opinion, a cheap shot but the other observations are spot on.

Our anonymous author concluded:

"Well no one can envy the Gumpwood Board of Directors who will have to mediate this dispute. It's kind of like trying to choose the cleanest sheet in the Ebola Clinic in Liberia."

Did I mention Gumpwood is having a membership drive?

Unused name tags at Montgomery County Bar Association Holiday Party

Sunday, September 14, 2014

LSU Gumbeaux vs. The Florida Citrus: LITG's Solution to Offensive Team Names

It all started with this "Tree" mascot for Stanford.

There are two prevailing themes currently circulating the sports pages: (1) Domestic violence and (2) Politically incorrect team names.  What have we learned about the Ray Rice situation?  Take the stairs?  Of course not!  What we have learned is that emotion leads us to a rush to judgment and suspends our belief in important concepts such as due process. We at LITG cannot help you make sense of that problem.  Seems we repeat the mistake almost every two years.  Hello Ferguson Missouri.

However, as to the second topic, we at LITG believe we are uniquely situated to offer thoughtful suggestions for how SEC teams ought to be re-named.  After all, we all live in the city with the most politically correct, popular and food-based sports team name in the country: Why that would be our very own Montgomery Biscuits.  Sure, some thought it was a dumb name that really came out of left field. But it has proven to be a marketing home run.  The name flows off the tongue like soft butter off a hot flaky biscuit.

So here goes.  To avoid future controversy such as that recently endured by the embarrassing name change at Ole Miss, we at LITG offer the following suggestions for how our SEC football teams can avoid the poor publicity that caused the Stanford Indians to change their name to the Cardinal (with a dopey "Tree" mascot) and which currently dogs the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball club.

First, let's note that only three SEC teams have marginally acceptable names which only need mascotectomys:  Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M.  As for Bama, you cannot get less objectionable than to reference a color and the natural movement of the ocean.  While to Auburn fans it reminds them of more like a bowel movement, Crimson Tide can stay.  However, their emaciated post-gastric bypass elephant mascot has got to go.  After all, elephants are endangered and should not be exploited by a state that has not had anything resembling elephants walk its turf since prehistoric times if then. Our LITG suggested replacement mascot: “The Swirl.”  You know, like the swirl on the top of an ice cream cone from Dairy Q only this one would be Crimson.

Another SEC team that can keep its current team name is the Tennessee Volunteers.  I know you older readers think that the intended reference of “Volunteers” to fight the rebellious civil war is inappropriate.  However, so few readers actually recognize that civil war connection that UT can pass off their name as a reference to community organizers.  Again, their mascots--a guy dressed in a coonskin cap with a flintlock or that droopy eared dog--have got to go.  We at LITG suggest they be replaced with a character named Jack Daniel who wanders around the field acting drunk and hollaring obscenities--like most UT fans.

The third and final acceptable team name is owned by the Aggies of Texas A & M.  What a great ecologically friendly name?  Now the militaristic cadet corps and the firing of cannon has got to stop. And, instead of poor "Lassie" the collie who almost got run over by a receiver pushed out of bounds, their mascot should be changed to something like an solar powered tractor or a maroon hoe. The latter could be named: “Hoey.”

Now those are behind us, it is time for real work. Simply put, we have to remove all references to animals with violent tendencies.  How sick is it to have a mascot that represents illegal cock fighting. The current South Carolina mascot –“Cocky”—has metal spurs on his feet which can only be used to harm other poultry.  The gamecock also looks like it is on steroids which is another big no-no. Of course, there is also the existing sexual innuendo issue.  What father doesn’t wince to see a blonde co-ed yell “Go Cocks” into the camera while ESPN pans the crowd. Accordingly, we offer South Carolina the chance to change their name to “The Low Country Boils.”  Their mascot? Either a corncob, a red potato or a large red butt pimple named "Cobber."

Next we come to the Arkansas team. Wild boar are an environmental problem anywhere they roam and they smell awful. Why have a team name that represents swine? No way. Razorbacks have to go.  The LITG alternative: “The Arkansas First Cousins.” As a replacement we offer a LITG-inspired mascot they can be happy with: A Pork Rind.  If that reference is too edgy, they could opt for a pasty white banjo player with vitamin deficiencies named “Deliverance.”  When Arkansas goes on defense they can play "dueling banjos."

Now as for the two Bulldogs schools, both Georgia and MSU have simply got to stop their abuse of English bulldogs by putting them on bags of ice and encircling their necks with spiked collars. Indeed, one of them almost bit an Auburn player in a futile desire to be free of the leash.  These PETA and safety issues make it clear “Bulldogs” have to go.  As for Georgia the natural name should be “The Silver Peaches” which rhymes with “Silver Breeches.” Their on-field mascot: “The Pit.” This year "Pit" could wear a frowney face.

As for Mississippi State we at LITG suggest they keep their stupid cowbells but rename themselves the "Belles" with their actual mascot being Belle of Beauty and the Beast. Random? Yes. If you have a better idea please post a comment.

Clearly the SEC has way too many Tigers. Not only are they endangered, but they—like the elephant—have never lived in the US South.  Tigers are a completely inappropriate team name and, in the case of Mike at LSU,  tigers are serious accidents waiting to happen. Remember the Siegfriedand Roy disaster? Unless you want to see another “Tigersicle” incident there can be no Tiger names or mascots. Our LITG-themed substitutes?  We believe Auburn should  take a page out of Don Henley's song "Sunset Grill" and change their name to the "Auburn Skies."  That poor eagle has to be retired.  Its replacement, a beautiful “Ginger Girl” named "Audrie."  LSU should  obviously change its name to the “Gumbeauxs” with its mascot being the “Purple Okra.” Finally, Missouri should be called the "Sliders" with a snow pea named “Show Me” as the mascot. I could not come up with a food associated with Missouri. Missourians can't either.
The  Fighting Okra

Wildcats are no better than Tigers as team names go.  Kentucky has the perfect LITG-themed name ready and market-tested: The Kentucky Fried Chickens.  But chickens should not be fried any more than razorback pigs should rotate on a spit at their opponent's tail gate parties. Instead, Kentucky should call themselves the "Blue Grass" which should also become more popular as marijuana is legalized throughout the country.  Their mascot: A Joint named “Colonel High.”

What about the Gators? How could you have a more insensitive name? Overhunted and endangered for wallet and shoe leather, alligators should not be exploited by the University of Florida in the name of armored wankerball.  A better food-based alternative is there for the easy picking: “The Florida Citrus.” With that as their name, Florida could choose from a variety of fruit mascots. Our choice: “The Cutie.”

And then there is Vanderbilt.  Yes, they are still technically in the SEC.  But they currently have a militaristic name--Commodores--because they are named for a raging capitalist benefactor: Cornelius Vanderbilt.  They need to ditch the naval references and adopt something like: “The Golden Showers.”  Their mascot could be a golden urinal named “Pee Wee.”

Last, but not least we come back to Ole Miss, a team that has already struggled to rid themselves of a politically incorrect mascot and name issue and behaved badly. We know that instead of Rebels they chose "Black Bears." Really? Admiral Ackbar of Star Wars was a better idea.  Bears are endangered also and some are brown. The University of Mississippi needs to go back to the drawing board. To compliment their favorite cheer and best team sport: “Hoddy Toddy,” we suggest they use the name: "Hotties" with their mascot being any Ole Miss co-ed in the history department.

So there you have it.  Problem solved.  On any given Saturday in the not too distant future the Auburn Skies will battle the Georgia Silver Peaches or the LSU Gumbeauxs will take on the Arkansas First Cousins in contests that will not raise the hackles of Marlowe Thomas or anyone connected with PETA.  No one will be offended except maybe those expecting to see some hard-nosed SEC wankerball.  As my old coach would say: "Pin your ears back! Bow your neck and get in there and kick those Cuties in the navel!"

Best Mascot Ever... but he's taken.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lunch in the Gump has gone to the dogs!

"Psst. They have seafood in a gas station. Pass it on"

To: Current Lunch in the Gump Facebook Administrators:
We, and we know who we are, formed our snarky little Lunch in the Gump blog with a loose recipe of a cup of promotion of local restaurants, a half-cup of commentary on current events, a tablespoon of actual food reviews and a pinch of satire.  The goal was to entertain but not lower the IQ of our readers…measurably… while writing the social history of Montgomery, Alabama from 2009 to 2013. 
Unfortunately we could not leave well enough alone. One of us, and I cannot remember which one (but I am sure Obama or Bush or Karl Rove had some hand in it), thought it might be good to start a companion Facebook page because at the time Facebook was a hot poop IPO that claimed billions of users.  The fact we figured out a way we could maintain our anonymity and use our blogspot nom de plume’s to create fictitious characters like Shadow Pup on Facebook, was also a plus.  It was also FREE.  Well, sure enough, we rocked along for a few years with our usual 20 or so hits on the blog every day unless we had a new post and once or twice a week someone would ask to join the Facebook page where all we did was promote the blog.  We even got some thoughtful comments from our readers, like George.  Our primary reward was to be in crowds where someone would occasionally ask if we had read a “Lunch in the Gump” post on their favorite restaurant.  At such times we could smugly smile and feign ignorance while we listened to someone try to explain what we were trying to do to us, the chefs of irony.  
Our initial recipe was to us like a warm chocolate cookie right out of the oven.  Then something happened. It wasn’t sudden like Alien popping out of that English actor’s stomach or Jason popping up behind you with a hockey mask on.  It was insidiously gradual like global warming and, like everyone else, we blame it on you…and global warming…and Obama or Bush.  You could say we have our own laziness to blame but that would be insensitive.  The fact is that once we hit about 2000 members we both got tired of having to cull “Join Requests” from people from Italy who then tried to sell us ugly shoes.  So, foolishly, we turned it into a “closed” group and shared administration rights  with you two yahoos.  We did not understand that “closed” meant more people could join.  Our mistake.  Now our warm little tart of a Facebook page has gone viral and the recipe has morphed into something else altogether.
We blame you. You let in everybody with a pulse and a Facebook account.  Now it appears the “membership” is approaching 4,000, there are a hundred posts a day asking: “I’m hungry. What should I eat?” It has turned into a lunch crisis helpline: "Help me, I have to eat something and I have forgotten how to chew."  Reading these cries for help has not only cost me by gag reflex but I have experienced the temporarily loss of my ability to read while reading some of these inane posts on the Facebook page. What's next: Reviews of water fountains and public restrooms?  Really?
Yes, there is occasionally very good information about new restaurants that most would have missed. There is some intelligent banter.  But the Facebook page is a now a rogue recipe with a mind of its own spoken in one liners.  We are afraid that our warm fried pork chop has turned into Frankenstein and beans. There is even talk of making money from LITG and shows on local TV about the “founders” but we—the founders—are not on the screen. The Facebook page is lowering our IQs and contributing to global warming.  Why shouldn’t we put it in the compactor before we contract Facebook poisoning? I ask you, what is the socially redeeming purpose of Lunch in the Gump now that it has become as vapid as Entertainment Tonight?


Darla Jean Pupanovich

a/k/a and a/k/c registered as Shadow Pup