Don and I actually ate "lunch" at Mimmie's last January, but "Sunday Supper" sounds more like the Southern Experience that we enjoyed.
We had a meal I'll never forget and what lead to the meal was even more memorable!
Don and I had planned a night in Americus, GA on our road trip. We were excited about our stay in an historic hotel on Saturday night. As we were heading on the highway towards the small town, my friend texted me out of the blue. She knew about our trip and wondered if we were anywhere near Plains. I checked the map and Plains was 10 minutes from Americus.
After much texting and nudging, Don and I ended up altering our travel plans. Instead of heading out early for New Orleans on Sunday morning, we got up at 5 and found ourselves in line outside of Maranatha Baptist Church. As the sun rose and a full moon faded, we shivered and chatted and laughed with others, as the FBI and Secret Service and bomb sniffing dogs did all their duties.
Sunday School With The Carters
We went through security and then spent 30+ minutes in the pews being given strict instructions by Miss Pat. She was quite a character as she handled the packed crowd of "tourists" like a gym class. By 10:00, about 35 local church members (and visiting Paula Deen) arrived and were seated near the front.
Then President Carter began his weekly Sunday School. The crowd of about 300+, was mesmerized. Mr. Carter spoke for 45 minutes in a gentle voice that made me crave each word... stories about his childhood and thoughts about an accepting God... And then there was a break and a whole church service with hymns and collection. And then! The Carters graciously greeted a long line of folks who had traveled from at least 45 states and numerous countries, to hear him speak. What an amazing morning.
Lunch at Last
By the time we left the church it had been over 6 hours since our granola bar breakfast. We headed to the only Sunday lunch option in Plains.
We had heard that Mimmie's was the place to go. You can actually see the cute building in this photo, but the view was blocked by a full lot when we first arrived.
We walked inside to find yet another line. We saw many of the same people we'd seen in church and figured their stomachs were growling, also. It was hard to believe we'd just driven to Mimmie's. It seemed more like we'd just followed the crowd down to the church basement.
There were quite a number of people dining out on a sunporch area. They must have been locals, since many were finishing up.
We heard the Carters often come to Mimmie's after the service. But we didn't get our hopes up, since we knew the Carter's friend Paula Deen was in town and they probably had bigger plans.
Soul and Southern Food
The line moved quickly, so I didn't really have time to figure it out, until we were standing there right in front of the steaming food containers. Luckily the servers were patient as I studied the options.
I kind of liked the "meal ticket" plan. We quickly decided if we wanted a "meat and 3" or a "meat and 2".
My green ticket got me fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, greens, cornbread and iced tea.
We were handed our trays and then decided where to eat. The smaller tables were all on the porch and the 2 large rooms seemed to have community tables. It felt like we were having a meal in a church hall... except for the antique saws on the wall.
We looked around to see what the other diners were doing and decided to keep our dishes on the trays. I was amazed to see the family staff in their white aprons efficiently clearing tables. I could see how dining on the trays helped with efficiency.
As for the food, it was like going to eat at your Southern grandma's. My fried chicken was tasty and better than Don's baked! My collard greens and Don's lima beans were pretty much what was expected. Don's yellow ticket got us a pecan pie to split! Yay for Georgia and pecan pie!
As we sat eating, it was curious to watch the people in line. Who were all these people, who had traveled so far to hear the former president speak? And would any of these people join us at our table? It was kind of like being in the school cafeteria wondering who would come sit next to you.
Mark and Debbie
We felt pretty lucky when a couple from New York asked to join us. They were also on a road trip and had decided to do the church stop as well. Mark actually had some kind of job with the Senate back in the Carter years, so he had some interesting stories.
Mimmie and Family
As things calmed down, I was able to chat briefly with Terrel and I think, his cousin. The restaurant is run by the Raven family, all descendants of Mimmie Hightower.
I read later that she was a former slave, which would mean Terrel and Kristen would have to be great-great grandchildren... or maybe we'd need to add another great?Terrel and Kristen posed under her photo.
Milton and Willie Bell Raven opened the restaurant just a few years ago. Milton was a former educator who grew up in the small community of Archery. That's where the Carter Family Farm still sits today. Milton passed away a couple years ago, but he knew Jimmy his whole life.
At one point I recognized Miss Pat. She was standing around chatting and laughing with people like she was at a cocktail party. She looked a lot friendlier than when she was in the church laying down all the rules.
After being intimidated and amused by her before the service, I was eager to go have a chat, myself. Miss Pat was a delight. She said she loved my sweater. I felt like I was one of her local friends when she reached to read my clothing tag to find out where she could find one. I felt giddy, like I'd met another celebrity!
On the Road
We headed towards Montgomery with full stomachs and happy memories... which all began with the full moon and freezing temps that morning.
A real dining adventure!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.