I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Greetings from West Memphis, Arkansas
N 35° 08.804’ W 090° 10.644’ Elev. 271 ft.
I asked a loader (the guys who load the trailers) where I could get a good home-cooked meal and he sent me to Ron’s Family Affair.
I was really wondering if I was going to be able to find it. The guy had a really thick accent and I found him extremely difficult to understand. I thought he was saying “Runs.” When I encounter lingual situations like that I always feel stupid having someone repeat something more than three times. Nevertheless, I found it.
Ron’s Family Affair is a funky little meat-and-three-sides place, except you only get two sides. I got the smothered pork chops, steamed/boiled(?) cabbage, black-eyed peas and cornbread, along with a sweet tea ($6.50).
First off: Ron evidently owns a very, very large salt shaker. And he’s not afraid to use it. This can sometimes be an issue, for me anyway, at some soul food places. And Ron, evidently, has a little less fear than others. Thankfully, he wasn’t fearless enough to take it completely over the edge.
The smothered pork chops were extremely lean and tender. And though the gravy was a bit salty, the generous portions more than made up for it: two great big pork chops. The cabbage wasn’t too salty and was really flavorful, with that wonderful sweetness that cabbage gets when it’s cooked. He was probably also using a bit of bacon grease. Yum.
Ron’s black-eyed peas, however, were another story altogether. I’ve been eating black-eyed peas my whole life — over 23, 27 years! —and these were easily the best I’ve ever had. They were so good, in fact, that I got a side order and another piece of cornbread to eat with my leftover pork chop.
But for the life of me I can’t figure out what he did. When I make black-eyed peas I mix a can of peas and a can of stewed tomatoes together and heat ‘em up. The peas get the sweetness of the stewed tomatoes, and Ron’s tasted very similar. But there was no evidence of tomatoes in them. And it wasn’t the ham hock because I’ve used them, too. It was something else.
As I was leaving I told Ron that his black-eyed peas were the best I’d ever eaten. I wanted to ask him what he did but he didn’t seem all that interested in talking to me, even as I was heaping a plethora of praise on his peas. He just said something like “Good,” and promptly disappeared back into the kitchen. So much for learning the secret of Ron’s black-eyed peas.
Ron also made some pretty mean cornbread. Of course, I’m of the mind that there is no such thing as bad cornbread. It’s just that some cornbread is better than others. And Ron’s was definitely some of the better.
Ron’s sweet tea on the other hand sucked … blue whale! Judging by the awful telltale phony lemon aftertaste it was undoubtedly from one of those disgusting mixes formulated by Dow Chemical or Monsanto or some other evil monstrosity masquerading as a people-friendly concern.
The really disappointing thing about Ron’s, however, was me. I should’ve ordered one of that day’s other meat selections: Neck Bones. As I was driving away it occurred to me: neck bones probably taste a lot like ox tails, which I love. Seriously, What’s the difference between neck bones and ox tails? Six feet? Next time I’ll try them and report back.
And so we roll.
Ron’s Family Affair, 526 E. Broadway, West Memphis, Arkansas
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.