New Orleans has Bourbon St., and Memphis has Beale St. On Bourbon you'll hear mostly jazz, zydeco, and a lot of 'show us your tits'. On Beale St., blues, soul, and R&B rule. There is a statue of W.C. Handy, the godfather of the blues, in the park, and also one of Rufus Thomas, the Ambassador of Soul, and the King of Rhythm and Blues. I'd been dreaming of eating at the Rendezvous, in an alley off 2nd St., since 1988, when I first heard John Hyatt sing “At least we can get ourselves a decent meal/Down at the Rendezvous.” We drove up from Clarksdale, Mississippi, and meandered about. Well, even though it was New Year's Eve weekend, the Rendezvous was closed, so I guess Charlie Vergos, the owner since 1948, can afford a day or two off. In fact it was closed until the tenth, so we headed back to Beale St. and settled into the Blues City Cafe on the corner of 2nd St. and Beale. At our old wine bar Stop Miami, we served Abita beers, but it became harder and harder to get in the quantity we needed. But here, like in New Orleans where it's a local beer, it's everywhere. We order two Purple Hazes, a half-slab of ribs, a bowl of seafood gumbo (okra moment #1), and some hot tamales. The ribs are dry-rubbed, Memphis-style, and they're crisped, pretty meaty, juicy and tender. A good rib. The gumbo is tangy, and the hot tamales are dense with corn. The spicy ground meat filling is definitely not Mexican, more like Southwest. I could see how after a lot of drinking, a plate of tamales here could end every single night. We were heading back to Clarksdale for New Year's, but we had a feeling we'd be back to Memphis, in the meantime.
Day three of the cleanse finds us in a better mood, as yesterday was pretty painful, starting with no coffee. Headaches, stuffy nose, poisons coming out from everywhere...Starting to remember that I love raw fruits and vegetables. Can't wait for the weekend when I score my okra.