Friday, November 7, 2008
This is a picture of the sidewalk on which people would wait for the grandest seafood buffet that ever existed.
Taylor’s Restaurant, over in nearby Deltaville, used to be The Place to eat when I was coming along, or at least the Chesapeake Bay Family deemed it so. Of course, when you come from a family where serving up partially-cooked pork sausage and D-con rat poison is known to occur, just about anything that isn’t deadly sounds good.
Anyway, Taylor’s had a seafood buffet that was out of this world. Shrimp, fish, crab legs, clams, oysters—you name it, they had it. On weekends there would be a line coming out the door. People couldn’t wait to sink their chops into steamed shrimp, fried shrimp, fried fish, fried clams or fried chicken. Nobody was particularly concerned about their triglycerides or their cholesterol count or their HDL or LDL numbers or their Weight Watchers points. Such concerns were for another day. And quite possibly another decade.
The crowning glory of the seafood buffet, the piece de resistance, the crème de la crème, the cherry on the sundae of that buffet was a very small, often overlooked and widely misunderstood fried ball of cornmeal known as the hush puppy.
If there were such a thing as a hush puppy connoisseur, I’d be one. (By the way, use of the word “connoisseur” marks the third time I’ve mentioned something that is derived from French, and I have no idea why or where it’s coming from. Maybe I'm channeling Brigitt Bardot. Or Jacques Cousteau.)
Taylor's had the perfect hush puppy: corn meal, a delicate hint of onion, and a splash of sugar all deep fried a golden brown. I’ve had bad hush puppies before (no onion, no sugar, white flour instead of corn meal), and there is no comparison. Taylor's had the best.
Taylor's has been an institution around these parts for decades. Alas, the restaurant has changed hands a few times and the seafood buffet died a quick and sudden death. People still mourn the loss, where people equals me.
To this day, there remains a huge seafood buffet void. If anyone out there wants to come here and start a new business, the seafood buffet is the ticket. You’ll have every one over the age of 40 drooling at your doorstep. (Because we all know the older crowd loves a buffet. Just ask Chesapeake Bay Mother and Father. They know the location, operating hours and senior citizen discount rate of every buffet establishment on the Eastern Seaboard.)
If someone out there does come here and opens another seafood buffet, I’ll be the first in line. Don’t forget the onions in the hush puppies. Thank you.