Thursday, May 20, 2010
Fantastic Voyage to Mamma Mary's
It is hard to define American food. There is the "stupid answer to a stupid question," i.e. food cooked and eaten in America, but sometimes geographical confines can only brush upon the hair of understanding. There is a space capsule floating around the universe containing a 45 inch of Chuck Berry's "Johny B. Goode," so that extraterrestrials will know what rock 'n' roll music is. We agree that Mr. Berry should be Earth's ambassador to outer planets but what or who should be food's ambassador? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich? At the blogcave we began constructing our own capsule for launching into outer space. After long consideration we have decided to pack a lunch of Soul Food, the ultimate American food. Home grown by American Blacks and Southerners, brought to all other sections of the United States by immigration booms to industrial centers, this type of cooking is as American as The Blues. Looking for some good Soul Food for our capsule we decided to visit Mama Mary's on Whalley Avenue.
Since visiting other Soul Food and their Jamaican counterpart establishments we had preconceived notions about Mama Mary's, especially about the atmosphere. Most other Soul Food restaurants in New Haven are geared towards take-out, providing only a small lunch counter or a single booth for diners. Some hang photos of Sammy Davis Jr. as response to the ever present Sinatra's of the city's Italian eateries. Mama Mary's defies these past experiences. Its brick wall and hardwood floor dining room is one of the most handsome in the city and houses the most comfortable chairs. The lighting is perfect, with large windows providing scenery and sun. One never tires of the R n B hits and Oldies they play.
Hans ordered the Chinese take-out staple of chicken wings and French fries, while Mendez opted for the meat loaf special. He chose collard greens and macaroni and cheese for his side dishes. Complimentary corn bread is served before the meal and toes the line of sweetness. The wings were huge, almost half that of a pterodactyl. The sweet honey barbecue sauce was sticky, requiring several old forest produced napkins. This is the kind of sauce New Englanders love and Texans despise. Sticky and sweet, it zinged the palate like a wise-ass with an audience. Mendez's meat loaf was tasty with enough fat to please the most hardcore fans of the Elvis Diet Cook Book. The macaroni and cheese was as good as such a dish can be, with the collard greens stealing the show. Peppery with just enough spice, Mendez will order them during every future visit to Mamma Mary's.
We also ordered chitterlings. When in Rome, last words said before our experience at an amateur goat orgy, when in Rome. This is not a comment on Mama Mary's, we're sure they were cooked to perfection for the dish, but never having eaten pig entrails before we were not ready for the aroma or flavor. You can definitely tell which part of the animal this Soul Food staple comes from. After our initial trial bites of this slimey, rubbery dish we offered them to a neighboring table. They turned our offer down.
The ten dollar price feels right for the amount of food one receives. Its almost unnecessary to order a side dish, but don't let us discourage you. The service was friendly and a recent visit by Rakim proves that great minds think a like. We decided not to place chitterlings in our space capsule for the sake of the alien's palates. When the aliens do come, let us, Hans and Mendez, remind them once again, that America will fight for their Independence Day.