Mustered Courage US Tour:
Paddy’s Top 10 Nasty Foods
Now, after sharing a house with the wonderful Aurora Jane for some time, I learned about how serious this gal is about her food—nothing short of a genius and full of brilliant ideas. I was tickled pink when she asked me to do a blog of food nastiness while I was on a three-month tour of North America with my band, Mustered Courage.
We’ve had over fifty shows in over forty states since we’ve been here, but we’re getting by. I’m almost a bit ashamed, but hey, I’m here to help. This is a little insight into some things we have eaten on the way. They can be life saving, yet life limiting. However, after the ten-hour drive straight to a gig, the excess beer, the early starts, the good gigs and the bad, it’s all part of the fun. Hey—don’t judge me!
The list is not in preference order.
1. Carl’s Junior/Hardee’s. Blythe, California
The Big Carl—$4.50
A well known burger chain across the country, branded under two names.
Awesome charbroiled burgers with plenty of nastiness for your heart. I landed on the Big Carl burger, which is essentially their take on a Big Mac. Double beef patty, loads of American cheese, lettuce (barely), pickles and whatever the special sauce is. Damn good burger with plenty of nastiness, washed down with Dr. Pepper.
2. Cracker Barrel. Knoxville, Tennessee
Fried chicken tenderloin with white gravy and sides—$8/$9
Cracker barrel is a chain spread out over the country that serves what you would call Southern style home cooking or maybe even soul food. It also doubles as a country store with lots of stupid knick-knacks like license plates, hats and that kind of thing. Price varies depending on what sides you pick. I ordered the fried chicken tenderloin with white gravy, green beans and mashed potatoes. One of my favorite musicians is a guy by the name of David Lindley. He says Cracker Barrel is a good place to eat on the road due to being the most consistent and the availability of some things slightly reminiscent of healthy. Nick chose catfish I believe, with good reports. The collard greens are good too.
3. Bojangles Chicken ‘n Biscuits. Atlanta, Georgia
Cajun Filet Club Sandwich—$6.50
Chicken and biscuits (scones) chain across the country, relative to places such as Popeye’s and Church’s. Good quality burger. Didn’t taste like drastically processed chicken, but still just enough to have the naughty factor. Good seasoning with mayo and what seemed the regular quality newspaper lettuce. Hey I liked it! Got mine with a side of slaw and a Dr. Pepper, naturally.
4. Wendy’s. Ellensburg, Washington
Chilli Cheese Fries—$2.40
When our vehicle broke down in this tiny town, we spent three nights at a Super 8 Motel surrounded by typical fast food chains. Wendy’s is good. Burgers, fries, chilli—all that jazz. One afternoon, needing a snack, I remembered the last time I had these. Good quality beef chilli (even on its own) over fries with melted cheese and THEN some over the top. Plenty of beans in there, too. If your heart hurts after eating these, that’s not good, right?
5. Perkin’s Diner. Albert Lea, Minnesota
Chicken and Waffles—$8
I always wanted to try this. I was skeptical, but late at night after a long drive it was grand. So basically, a huge thick waffle, with a bunch of heavily processed breaded chicken tenders on top, with a side of whipped butter and a huge jug of maple syrup. It really works! The sweet goes with the savory just great. I’m sure this is just a disgrace to the true artists that make this meal, but hey, I loved every second of it. Bam.
6. Paradise Park. Nashville, Tennessee
Chilli Cheese Dog—$5
This is my absolute number one. I discovered this with my band mates last year when we played in Nashville. Paradise Park is a super tacky bar/food hole smack in the middle of Broadway in Nashville with all the nasty things you want. There are plenty of these places, but after a lot of twanging Telecasters and probably ten too many Bud Lights, you wish there were more. It really doesn’t get much worse. Look at the color of the cheese. Spray on style, I believe. The grade of the beef in that chilli looks it should be illegal. The fact of the matter is, it tastes just so nastily good that it is almost sexy. If this is wrong I don’t want to be right. I can’t really say anything more about it.
7. Taco Bell. Portland, Oregon
Two Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme and Fritos Burrito—$6.80
I LOVE Taco Bell. In Australia a lot of us are raised on Old El Paso tacos and burritos, no? That is generally our introduction to Mexican food. However it is so far away from the truth of how Mexican food actually is, it is almost shameful. That does not make it bad however. Taco Bell is one of the biggest chains across the US, essentially McDonald’s love child with Old El Paso. The taco shells are made by Doritos with different flavors like Cool Ranch, Nacho cheese and Fiery (hot). Inside is a pretty lowly dose of what I understand is grade D beef, cheese, shitty lettuce and sour cream. The burrito is loaded with the same meat, plus some cheese and a bunch of Fritos corn chips. All comes in a box. Cheap, evil but brings a tear to my eye.
8. Arby’s. Knoxville, Tennessee
The Meat Mountain—$10.99
Now. Playing in a band with a Texan, you learn something about meat lovers. Nick is a walking, banjo-playing, food machine. Hell, the man likes to eat. I admire his appetite, especially when stuff like this is out there. The meat mountain is a limited time sandwich at Arby’s, a huge nation-wide chain that is not your regular burger joint. No beef patties in this place. They make sandwiches loaded with roast beef and other meats. Great stuff. The meat mountain features two chicken tenders, a whole shit-ton of roast beef, bacon, turkey AND beef brisket, plus cheddar and American cheese. Then dump a bunch of Arby’s horsey sauce (horseradish mayonnaise) onto it. Nick polished it off in true style.
9. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Nashville, Tennessee
Fried Chicken with Fries and Collard Greens—$8.90
This place has a bit of hype about it; a few friends back home have told me about it. Nashville hot fried chicken, with four grades of hotness. Wait, is that a word? Me and Josh went for the second from the hottest, which was good. I could have gone all the way though, sure of that. Unbelievable breading on the chicken, just loaded with heaps of spices and plenty of chilli. A million different classic sides available like macaroni and cheese, all types of baked beans, fries, slaw, the usual. Julian went with a mild serve. I didn’t slap him because I love my band mates, but he didn’t know what he was missing. Absolutely amazing. Forgive the lighting in the photo, it was sunny and there were a lot of people at the place! Collard greens were great too, spicy with bacon bits. Right on.
10. Denny’s. Los Angeles, California
Blueberry short stack pancakes with bacon and hash browns—$7.50
Denny’s is a nation-wide chain of diners. They are simply everywhere. Good stuff too—lots of burgers, sandwiches, and breakfast foods. Regular-ass blueberry pancakes with a decent-sized hash brown on the side and bacon. The bacon wasn’t the crispy stuff that a lot of places here are so good at doing, but hey it is what it is. It all goes nicely together, and as far as I know, it’s a consistent place like Cracker Barrel. Paired well with that really watery American drip coffee. Unfortunately, I got these as soon as we touched down in LA after our flight from Australia. As they were being uneasily digested, lack of sleep and jet lag came about and these pancakes ended up all over the side of our manager’s ute (pickup) as we drove down Santa Monica Boulevard. Sorry Mark. I still thought it was pretty funny though.
Article and photography by Paddy Montgomery
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