Too Much on Your Plate
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"What'll you have, Sweetie?" The question I've been asked so many times during the
forty-something years I've been eating at the Mayflower Caf? came to me just as
naturally as a June breeze.
"I'll have the stuffed redfish, no potato, and salad." I was distracted by the crowd
assembling for early dinners before the opera curtain at eight just around the corner.
I waved at a couple of friends, "Are y'all going to the performance?" Waves, smiles,
The question is automatic almost everywhere, "Would you like double salad?" Now, there's
a good idea. Manager Jerry Kountouris' salad has a narrow slice of Mozzarella draped over
it and a pungent pepperoncini on the side. It's yummy with the Come-Back dressing.
A plate of fragrant onion rings passed by, but I was already thinking about the Come-Back.
Jerry's version of the locally popular pink Greek salad dressing is my favorite because of
the extra hint of curry. He promised me that there's no sugar in it. We made hors d'oeuvre
by pouring a dollop on a piece of Melba toast — a Mayflower tradition. Not too many carbs
in just one.
The Greeks came to my hometown, Jackson, Mississippi, in the thirties and forties, and
established a restaurant industry based on the wonderful, fresh, Gulf of Mexico seafood
so readily available. The Greeks are still here, influencing the local cuisine in familiar,
casual caf?s like the Mayflower and in more upscale restaurants around town where they serve
elegant appetizers such as saut?ed soft shell crawfish in a French cream sauce.
I patronize most of them: Creschale's, Primos, the Elite, and Dennery's. Marcel's, Nick's
and Bill's Greek Tavern are three relative newcomers during the last twenty or thirty years.
They all focus on the fish and shellfish, and they each treat it a bit differently. This
food can be described as "Low Carb Heaven." All you have to do is skip the potato and
resist the rolls at the Elite. Everything else is easy.
One of the things I love about Atkins "Maintenance" is having my favorite foods and eating
them too. Jerry's stuffed redfish is a butter-paneed filet covered with lump crabmeat.
The thin, brown sauce is made by de-glazing the pan with lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce
and spices. The local expression, "Makes you wanna slap yo Mamma!" definitely applies.
I eat out a lot. I find that, since (like everywhere else, I suppose) Jackson has really
gotten into low carb cuisine, it's easy to find great things to eat all over the place.
Gulf seafood and fresh water fish lend themselves particularly well to a controlled carb
lifestyle. There are sweet shrimps boiled in spices; oysters raw on the half shell, smoked,
or baked in various French and Cajun ways; farm-raised catfish any way you can think of
including catfish pate' made with cream (it won an international award!); flounder, snapper;
grouper; scallops; sole; pompano; soft shell crabs; and delicate lump crabmeat, so good on
top of almost anything.
And then it arrived atop my redfish!
"Since you're not having a baked potato, would you like some green beans on the side, Sweetie?"
See what I mean? The farmers market, with plenty of lovely, fresh, green, yellow and red
veggies is right down the street, you know.
At lunch at the Mayflower, you see lawyers, lawmakers from the State Capitol, working people
from downtown, tourists who have heard about the great seafood, ladies who lunch, and cops.
Except for the tourists, they're almost all regulars. Some of them come for daily lunch
specials — meatloaf, fresh vegetables, stuffed crab, catfish, or snapper throats, now called
"fish tenders," an accommodation for the squeamish, I understand. My sweetheart's daughter
makes a beeline for the snapper throats when she visits from Florida. I love Jerry's
scalloped eggplant, summer squash, and Crowder peas — one quarter cup only, thank you very
much! I can even have the homemade tarter sauce on my snapper throats.
When I was ten or so, my parents and I came to the Mayflower after church on Sundays and
ordered flounder and coconut pie, my mother's favorite. The Mayflower is closed on Sundays
these days, and I don't order the pie any more, but the same old photos of downtown Jackson
from the 1800s to the 1950s and the same trophy fish are one the walls, the same black and
white checkerboard tile is on the floor, and the same (refurbished) neon sign with the
Mayflower ship is sailing high at the quaint old corner entrance.
Jerry has made some thoughtful changes at the Mayflower since he became manager of the
family business. There are now white tablecloths, dimmed lighting at night, and a large
poster of the Beatles — with all four autographs — from about the time we were both
graduating from high school.
Thanks to Dr. Atkins, I lost the forty pounds I put on in middle age, but I can keep the
important things, like the stuffed redfish. I'm still a happy regular at the Mayflower.
Copyright © July 2004 Linda D. Mann and Low Carb Luxury