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March 17, 2014

Points East: Taste of Blair Branch

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A fellow columnist, who works at a big city newspaper, once told me that anytime he ran out of anything to write about he just sat down at his typewriter, loosened up his fingers,  and submitted whatever happened.   So that’s what I’m doing this week, now that it’s March, we’ve had another change of weather, started fast time, and madness has set in.

Back in the 1990s, before there was a Mexican or Chinese restaurant on every corner, the late Truman Caudill, Bard of Blair Branch, came down from Letcher County to spend a weekend, hold the light so I could catch night crawlers,  and pick on the five string for me and we decided to take him out to eat.

When I asked him where he wanted to go, Truman said, “Didn’t I see one of them Mexican joints there in Richmond the other day?”

He said, “ I drove an 18 wheeler all over the desert southwest for 20 years and I’ve never had any of that stuff.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’d have been way better off if he’d stopped in Tucson long enough to eat and wanted to taste something similar to the real thing.  On the other hand, I figured they knew about as much about Mexican food on Blair Branch as we flatlanders who have had the wool polled over our eyes, lo these many years.

My friend, Sandy Walker, once took me nearly 300 miles down the Baja on a fishing trip, and one night we ate at a restaurant in Puerto Citas, there on the Sea of Cortez, where they served butterfly shrimp that would cover your open hand, fingers and all, along with prickly pear cactus and a huge helping of grilled peppers.   If they had refried beans and rice on the menu, I didn’t see it, and I think I wrote about that trip over 20 years ago so now it’s “olds” instead of news. 

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