April 6, 2012

Clarence Thomas "said he went to a Cracker Barrel restaurant with three non-lawyer buddies for his 60th birthday."

From an article about Justice Thomas's talk at the University of Kentucky.
The justice also had good words for the community in which he grew up. He compared the rural Georgia area to the setting of the movie The Help.

Despite all of the troubles, he wouldn't trade the neighborhood for anything, he said, adding that there was order and peace there.

"I was treated a lot better in the South than I was ever treated in the North," he said. In his high school, where he was the first, or one of the first, black students, "nobody ever said I was inferior."

Thomas described the Supreme Court as a "wonderful place" that "might be better than we deserve." He said the other justices are "good people" and his friends; he's never heard an unkind word among the nine justices when they discuss legal cases.


Roman said...

I have admired Justice Thomas for a long time now. He seems like such a down to earth person.

When he was nominated by HW Bush, I was taken aback for a while. He is the first Justice of the Supreme Court who is younger than me.

Chase said...

This conservative does not always agree with Justice Thomas' writings and decisions.

But I am thankful a man of his character, proven during his years in the Court, is sitting there now.

Vote Romney in November and keep the Court in the hands of men and women of good character.

chickelit said...

Imagine the outrage if Alito or Scalia went to a Sambo's or a Souplantation restaurant.

edutcher said...

A class act.

In comparison to his many critics.

He is proof that character really does count.

And what Chase said.

Especially the last part.

Sydney said...

maybe Wisconsin could send it's Supreme Court justices to DC to take lessons in civility from the SCOTUS.

SteveR said...

Its not "the economy stupid" that should dictate your vote this November.

Holmes said...

Cracker Barrel is just the best; go for the chicken and dumplings, stay for the fried everything.

Michael said...

I recommend his autobiography. I believe he wrote it himself. He had a hard life but was well loved, tough loved, by his grandfather. A very moving story of a man who overcame much. Compare and contrast with our president's "autobiography"

I'm Full of Soup said...


That was funny! I am still laughing.

Chuck66 said...

Michael, correct. Like many conservatives, Thomas came from very modest background.

Compare Cracker Barrel to Obama and his $99.00 a pound ham.

jimbino said...

I recently met folks who told me that Thomas is an avid RVer who just shows up at RV parks and mingles with hoi polloi.

It sure would be a treat to trade tall stories with Thomas around a campfire!

bagoh20 said...

Every time I read or hear him, I'm impressed. To me he is the quintessential American, or at least what I want it to be.

minimus said...

Clarence Thomas is a great American and a great Georgian.

Titus said...

He's only 60?

Titus said...

Chick, are there still Sambo's around?

I loved Marc's Big Boys which may be somewhere in this country but not where I live.

I had a 27 year old boyfriend in Madison when I was like 12 and we always went to Big Boys. I saw the movie Blue Velvet with him and fell in love with indie cinema.

I dropped him though because I was like 12 and wanted to spread my wings. I am still tasting it.


traditionalguy said...

Thomas is black, but he is educated because he is from coastal Georgia.

From Jekyl Island, where the Theodore Roosevelt's friends built their winter mansions, on up past St Simons and Sea Island to Savannah and then up the River to Augusta which was an area that catered culturally to yankee millionaies who built winter resorts reachable by train years before before Florida was opened up by Flagler's trains. Bonus: Sherman chose to leave Augusta alone.

That area had also been settled by families from England that for 125 years maintained a version of English civilization within their communities.

That is still noticable today if compared to the later opened slavery worked Indian Lands lying west and north from Milledgeville/Macon which as the central point was made the State Capital until Atlanta took it after the War. Sherman had also burned down the Government buildings in Milledgeville/Macon for some reason.

After Jackson opened up the Indian Lands bought in an 1821 treaty, white settlement drifted west into Alabama where it slowly became safe for single men to become the traders with the Creek Indian Nations and carve out for themselves a frontier existence, usually by taking wives from the tribes. The English civilization did not make this trip.

So Clarence Thomas is a great example of what African Americans became who were educated and treated semi-fairly in the older part of Georgia.

Titus said...

Do you guys remember Country Kitchen and Embers?

I always order the Country Gal Scrambler at Country Kitchen.

Carnifex said...

I haven't seen a Sambo's in a coons age.(too soon?)

My wife adores the chicken and dumplings at Cracker Barrel so much so that she orders them as the entree, and the side.

Only bad meal at a Cracker Barrel I ever had was in Albany NY. How a Yankee can ruin grits and okra is beyond me.

Carnifex said...

Ps. Frisch's Big Boy?

Comanche Voter said...

Cracker Barrel is plain food for plain people. Not a heck of a lot of pretension there. I don't know if there are many Cracker Barrels around Washington D.C., so I suppose Clarence had his birthday dinner somewhere outside the DC area. He's a hard working straight shooting guy.

chickelit said...

Titus said...
Do you guys remember Country Kitchen and Embers?

I remember the Country Kitchen at the corner of Allen Blvd and University Ave. I still emember sitting there with a gorgeous girl from Waunakee, drinking coffee. Then we went to see Star Wars which had just come out.

Alex said...

Remember the feminazi who said that she wished Clarence Thomas' wife would feed him lots of bacon & eggs so he would drop dead? I wonder what happened to her...

ricpic said...

He's never heard an unkind word? But there must've been unkind thoughts. If not the justices are brain-dead.

ricpic said...

Cracker Barrel probably doesn't ruin breakfast, but I wouldn't take a chance with anything served there beyond that.

SGT Ted said...

Todays black ghettos are the direct result of Northern bigotry and racism. But, they only talk about southerners being "racists".

The northern Democrats who run cities like Chicago like it that way.

Chef Mojo said...

Cracker Barrel serves good, honest food, primarily for travelers. It's real big with the RV crowd down the the 95 & 81 corridors. The menu is huge and varied. The chicken & dumplings are excellent. You can even get a good chicken fried steak there. Over the years, they've introduced lighter fare, and it's a good place to go for a nice meal salad. Bottomless coffee and iced tea, of course. But I always get a big bottle of Stewart's Diet Root Beer. How many restaurants do you know that sell a good root beer?

The country store theme is a nice attraction to these folks, as well. Plenty of tchotchkes, sure, but it's also a great place to pick up country bacon.

Justice Thomas has patronized a number of the restaurants I've cooked in, and I'm proud of having him compliment me on my shrimp & grits (and he knows a thing or two about shrimp & grits!). He and his wife have always been wonderful to serve. Polite, humorous and engaging. Good tippers, too.

Needless to say, it isn't Cracker Barrel all the time with Justice Thomas, but I can certainly understand and see it!

As an aside, I could never imagine any of the other justices being as down-to-earth as Justice Thomas is in person. Thomas is a listener. He engaged me on my culinary background, style of cooking and cooking philosophy. Later, I realized that it was a rather lopsided conversation, with me doing the talking and Justice Thomas drawing me out and listening. Pretty heady experience.

Rusty said...

Chick, are there still Sambo's around?

I think they all became Perkins.

SGT Ted said...

Do you guys remember Country Kitchen and Embers?

We have an Embers here in Eureka, CA. It's probably 50 years old.

About the only one that hasn't caught on is Waffle House, but Californians have a Southern States Immigrant Tradition from the Depression Era, and our country breakfasts are about the same, but oatmeal instead of grits. We used to do chipped beef on toast, rather than biscuits and gravy that has replaced it on most menus today. That was back in the days of Sambos and Bobs Big Boy and Drive-In Burger joints. Best damn burgers on the planet and most of them are gone.

damikesc said...

Cracker Barrel is just the best

If you live in a place without actual Southern cooking, sure. If you're in a place with options, it is terrible. Almost inedible crap on a plate.

Heck, a local chain, the Lizard's Thicket, is worlds better.

Clarence Thomas is one of the victims of the most racist slurs I've seen in a while.

Roger J. said...

Chef Mojo--I have always heard (and believed) the best way to be a good conversationalist is to get the other person talking about them--what they like etc. As you rightly point out, the trick is to listen. Been up to the Canadian maritimes, and have engaged oystermen and lobstermen in conversation, and then just listen. its a great experience.

MadisonMan said...

I can't stand chain restaurants. It would really really suck to live in a place where such beasts were the only game in town.

PF Chang's is the worst for example. It really tastes like everything is cooked off-site somewhere, flash-frozen, and then nuked back to life before being thrown at you. Ugh.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I lived in Savannah for a time in the early 2000's, was a member of the Savannah Bar Association and got to know a lot of folks who knew Thomas. I passed through Pinpoint regularly. He is the pride of Pinpoint, the Low Country generally, and the State of Georgia. Long live Justice Clarence Thomas!

Roger J. said...

Pardon consecutive posts--but the technique of asking people what they do and like works wonders and across cultures--spend every summer up in northern saskatchewan, and have Cree indian families come ashore at my campsite--conversations go on for hours--they are fascinated that whitebreads come up there and canoe camp in their land. Similarly, worked well in Eger, Hungary--the wonderful lady that owned the coffee shop took us on a tour of her house which extended under the castle walls of the Eger fortress. We spent two hours talking to her (and magyar is not an easy language0--Wether its a Rasberry point oystermen in malpequque, or cafe owners in Eger, their stories are worth listening to. And in the case of prince Edward island, Dan and Steve, took the time to show me how to shuck an oyster. Wonderful times.

X said...

and I'm proud of having him compliment me on my shrimp & grits

I'd be interested in your recipe if you fell like sharing.

Roger J. said...

second X's request

Unknown said...

I also like what he said about the South in those days. People today think of the pre-Civil Rights days as a time of open warfare on Blacks, but really, the Civil Rights movement built on a growing integration and acceptance of Blacks.

I read a couple of years ago about a couple from France who came to the US for the first time. They were shocked, in a good way, by the easygoing diversity in our cities. From what they had read and seen, they expected a continuous low level race riot.

buster said...

Chef Mojo @ 8:58

My wife and I met Clarence Thomas and had the same experience. He drew us out and listened, and we did most of the talking.

My wife is a dietician, and Thomas said some funny things about Southern Black food. He talked to me about mutual acquaintances as if I were an old friend.

He is a good, down-to-earth man.

Chef Mojo said...

Here you go, X!

Shrimp & Grits

This is the Charleston High Style version I served to Justice Thomas. I have other versions on request.

For the grits:

1 cup of stone ground white grits (see note at end for sources.)
3 cups of filtered water
1 cup heavy cream
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. dried thyme leaf


Combine all the ingredients, except the grits in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Bring back to a boil and turn the heat back to medium. Keep whisking until the grits start to thicken in the liquid, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When finished, set aside and keep warm.

For the shrimp:

2 lbs. fresh shrimp, (16-20 size) peeled & deveined. Reserve the shells. If you can find true Carolina/Georgia river shrimp, I highly recommend you use them. Doesn’t matter what size. They are so wonderfully sweet. Amazing.

1 lb. of smoked sausage. Slice the sausage lengthwise and then slice each half on the bias. Ok. This is a tough call. I’ve recently started using Edwards Smoked Sausage links at work. Very smoky! But, I also like the spice, personally, so I use good quality andouille sausage. Comeaux’s is my go-to brand. It’s from Louisiana, and I find it to be quite good in this dish.

2 cups white wine
1 bunch of scallion greens, chopped.
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes.

Take the reserved shrimp shells and put in a saucepan with the white wine, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, and then strain off the liquid and reserve.

Heat up a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, sauté the shrimp, and remove to a plate.

Toss in the sausage and sauté in the same pan. When the sausage starts to brown, add the reserved shrimp stock. Turn back to a simmer and reduce, scraping up any bits in the pan. Reduce until the liquid is down by 2/3s, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and then put the shrimp back in. Bring back to a boil, and remove from the heat.

Add the scallions. Count to 15.

Toss in the butter, and start stirring it in. This is crucial. This is what makes the sauce.

When the butter is incorporated, you’re good to go.

For communal dining, I put the grits all in a big bowl, cover with the shrimp, and pass it around.

Or you can just do individual bowls with the grits and shrimp covering them.

Chef Mojo said...

Where on earth can you get good grits? Well, I'll tell y'all where you can get good grits!

Wade's Mill in Raphine, Virginia. I've been using these grits for years. Stone ground at an historic mill in the heart of Virginia's bread basket, these grits are just what you need for this dish.

Unless, of course, you want to go completely over the top. In which case you need to check out Anson Mills Antebellum Grits. That's right. Antebellum. As in, before the Late Unpleasantness, or the War Between the States. Anson Mills, South Carolina, specializes in heirloom grains, including the fabled Carolina Gold Rice. These grits are fresh; meaning that they are shipped frozen and should be stored as such until you use them. The flavor is indescribable, but here goes: When you cook up these grits, it smells and tastes like fresh, sweet corn. That is no exaggeration.

And how about that sausage?

Edward's Smoked Sausage. This is the original Surry sausage. Nothing finer for breakfast. I use this sausage to make Po' Boys at the Inn.

Comeaux's Andouille Sausage. Now, I'm sure there's probably something a bit better out there, but, I gotta tell y'all that I'm pretty loyal to this brand. This is a classic, coarse, well smoked andouille, and it has all sorts of uses.

Chef Mojo said...

Addendum to the recipe!

Serves 4-6, depending on appetites.

Roger J. said...

Chef Mojo--thanks for the recipe--much appreciated. I use Pouche's sausage from Breau Bridge La. and specially thanks for the location for real stone ground grits.

Go out and do good, sir.

Michael Haz said...

Chef MoJo - Thanks for the recipe!

Would you mind posting a link to your Inn's website? Travelling south this summer....

J said...

"I was treated a lot better in the South than I was ever treated in the North,"

I would not be surprised by that at all.

As a Northerner, I found race relations much more friendly in the South than in the North.