Thursday, May 25, 2017

Living in a Small Town in VA

On Saturday I went down to Rob's, where Gordonsville was hosting its famous Fried Chicken Festival. Once known as the 'chicken leg center of the universe', I was anxious to partake in some serious munching of this American favorite fare. An interesting audio is here, explaining the history of this event.
Above is the only photo to be found on the internet of these aspiring women, earning good money for their fried chicken, passengers no doubt licking their lips as the aromas wafted up to them the moment the train pulled into the station. Coffee was also offered with the chicken, a veritable feast after a long journey clunking along the rail tracks in a dusty carriage. I was also licking my lips in anticipation as we drove into town.
There was a cook off for the best fried chicken, the winner receiving $100, and I imagined there would be booths which we could walk around to taste all these chicken concoctions. The field it was held in was packed. A few vendor booths were in a line and cars were filling up the parking spaces rapidly.
We walked in among the throng of people, it seemed the whole town was here, and I looked about, trying to locate the numerous stalls with chicken portions coated in a delicious seasoned coating, but there weren't any. Instead was a queue leading up to a board showing the food that was available. Regular fried chicken, wings, legs, thighs or breasts, or a spicy variety. There were sides to choose from too, but this was the only place to eat fried chicken from. So we stood in line and patiently waited to get to the front, which actually didn't take long. And we were glad we had lined up immediately because as we turned to locate a table to eat at, the queue behind us had doubled in length, and before we had finished our meal it had trebled, people snaking back almost to the edge of the field.
We sat and munched, listening to 103.1 WJMA radio who were broadcasting live from the event, good old country music, accompanied by clouds of bubbles that drifted past us. I never did locate where they were coming from, whether it was a machine or a super zealous kid blowing furiously through a wand, but it was kind of nice, even if somewhat odd.
And the verdict on the chicken? It was poo. I was immensely disappointed. The seasoning was OK, but the coating was soggy and the chicken meat seemed to have a strange flavor to it which I couldn't place. Almost like the meat had been washed in dish detergent before being coated. The corn bread was even more horrendous, actually inedible, but the mixed greens were delicious. I wish I could have had a bucket of those, no sugar but a lovely hint of vinegar, simply perfect. But in fairness, most folks did seem to be enjoying their food, I think it was just me that was disappointed. So  as far as I'm concerned, Pam at Nick's Deli in Marshall still reigns supreme as the Fried Chicken Queen.
But if anyone's interested in the Gordonsville recipe, it's here.
This couple caught my attention, dressed for the occasion, and had just completed the Festival's 5K run and by now, no doubt, had a good appetite for the chicken.
We later headed back to Rob's house where his niece, Jessica, was waiting, with two sweet little puppies and an older dog called Gus, for people to turn up and collect their new hounds. She fosters dogs and had brought these three to be picked up by their new parents. She's remarkable, driving 5 hours each way from N.C. in a day. A family came for the two puppies and then we were left with Gus, who was exuding an odor of his nose wrinkling canine cologne, so Jessica decided to bathe him.
We all got wet and frothy and unfortunately Gus didn't really smell that much better afterwards, although he did seem to enjoy the experience. His new family arrived, wanting to give an older dog a loving home, and it was soon evident that they were all going to get on fine. I didn't envy them the ride home though, with the wet fur pong overpowering any air freshener they might have in their vehicle!
On Sunday I pottered down to a tiny town in the boonies called Browntown, where I was going to learn all about llamas. That tale is in the next post.
The village wasn't really a village, it was tiny, with just a few homes and a wonderfully preserved general store. In England it would be called a hamlet, and I fell in love with it. Quiet, peaceful and friendly, with everyone seeming to know each other, each vehicle I passed offering a cheery wave.
Stepping inside the store was like going back in time. The owner was there, chatting to two local guys who had wonderful southern accents. The store had been lovingly preserved and was more like a museum, with vintage memorabilia and furniture everywhere. Artifacts were stacked up on shelves or hanging from the ceiling, original shop furniture gleaming with polish at the back against the wall. The owner pointed out the original wallpaper, dating back to about 1884. His young son had set up a stall at the front of the store, with a notice selling everything for $10. He said the price had been reduced from $22! I wanted to just sit and listen to the guys all afternoon, but feared I would never want to leave so bid farewell and looked around outside.
I found an excellent link on the history of Browntown, along with the name of the general store. I loved the way he left The Washington Post paper on the windowsill with a rock on top to stop them blowing away.
I wasn't sure why there was a station depot here since there was no rail line and from it's history, didn't ever seem to have been one, except for the line 5 miles away. The farmhouse building is the oldest house in Warren County, according to a local, but I couldn't find any information on that either. I reluctantly headed back home, Marshall felt like a city after visiting this idyllic little community, I would have loved to stay.

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