CHARLESTON, W.Va. - I'm a big believer in the "eat like a local" philosophy.
Whether supporting restaurants and markets that value locally produced food or seeking out local specialties when I travel, that's how I roll.
So when a family spring break trip took me to Kentucky last week - and to a throwback restaurant at Mammoth Cave National Park - it was the perfect time to expand my culinary horizons.
With chicken-fried steak.
I'm 43 years young and, until this past week, was proud to say I'd never tasted the stuff.
It's not that I'm all high and mighty when it comes to food. Far from it, actually, given my proclivity to consume copious amounts of biscuits and sausage gravy, especially when no one's looking.
It's just that it never really looked or sounded the least bit appealing to me. A slab of not-so-great-quality steak dipped in batter, fried like chicken and then smothered in gravy?!
No thanks, I would say, with disgusted look and eye-rolling in full effect.
But I was wrong. This stuff rocks.
The thin steak inside was tender. The coating was crispy deliciousness. And the gravy was, well, gravy. Can't go wrong there.
Served alongside oven-roasted potatoes and green beans cooked with salt pork, it was a soul-satisfying supper.
If you find yourself in the mood to go out for a drink or bite to eat at a nice local restaurant on a Sunday evening in Charleston, here's my advice to you ...