Thursday, April 05, 2007

Who's Dick Vitale?

Sometimes I feel like I've got my finger on the pulse of society ... I pretty much know who's who in the world of movie stars and musicians. But admitedly, I am usually left in the dark when it comes to sports. I love going to sporting events — espcially hockey, but also baseball, basketball and football. However, I cannot for the life of me make myself interested in sports broadcasts — especially commentary/analysis.

And that's why I didn't know who Dick Vitale was.

Yeah, he looked vaguely familiar, but Jim chalked that up to some pizza commercial I probably saw him in. But anyhow, the man seated about 20 feet in front of me along with three other sportscasters was Mr. Vitale himself, taping a portion of ESPN's Sports Center on Monday in Atlanta just before the NCAA championship game. And wouldn't ya know, I didn't have my camera with me, considering I was only planning on going shopping ... not getting a lesson in sports broadcasting.

I watched with sadness as people left and right snapped pictures of Mr. Vitale and the gigantic crystal championship trophy. And I thought of you — my blog friends — and how I would not be able to illustrate the shear intensity of what was unfolding before me. ... The lights, the fans, the cameras, the men in makeup, the security ... it was madness, I say!

Oh, there was also this guy, who I also thought looked somewhat familiar, but maybe I just figured he was important based on the amount of greasy goop he had in his hair and all the makeup he had on his face. Oh yeah, and he was on his cell phone gesturing wildly for about 30 minutes. Nothing screams importance more than an emphatic cell phone conversation.

But, like I mentioned before, the original reason for our trip to Atlanta was not the NCAA Championship madness. It was far more important ... shopping!!!

Before we headed over the IKEA, Jim gave me a lesson in Atlanta's Southern cooking history. Mary Mac's Tea Room, an Atlanta institution for more than 60 years, has fed famous folks from Hillary Rodham Clinton to James Brown and even wrestler/Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Mary Mac's is a huge place ... large rooms filled with businessmen and women, mothers and daughters, guys and girls — all eating down-home Southern food in the most friendly atmosphere I've seen in a restaurant in ages.

Our server, a vibrant, older black lady who wore huge pink pearl earrings and a bright smile, took our drink orders and nearly jumped back in suprise when I didn't ask for sweet tea.

With our drinks, she brought out my first ever bowl of pot likker. Have you guys had this stuff before? I'd never heard of it, and I think that was obvious by the look on my face as I gazed into the tiny bowl that held green water and green leafy things.

Our waitress smiled and said the pot likker was complementary and looked at me with a bit of pity, saying, "It's the juices left over from cooking turnip greens, honey. It's got all the nutrients you'll need for the day." And then she explained precisely how to eat the pot likker ... "First, you crumble this piece of cornbread on top, mix it in and take two drops of this (vinegar/pepper stuff) and stir. It's soooo good!"

I wouldn't classify the watery mixture as "good," but it wasn't necessarily "bad," either.

Next, Jim and I wrote down our lunch orders on Mary Mac's order sheets ... I had fried chicken, sweet potato souffle and green beans. Jim ordered chicken pot pie, cabbage, fried okra and an appetizer of fried green tomatoes.

It was all incredibly delicious! If you're ever in Atlanta and want a yummy Southern-style meal, head on over to Ponce de Leon and find Mary Mac's. You'll thank me for it, I promise.

The rest of our shopping day was uneventful, really. I scored a couple great deals at IKEA, but that's to be expected. Then we headed over to Atlantic Station and shopped for several hours before running into the ESPN filming, which along with Mary Mac's, was the highlight of our trip!