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The heartache of not having any pubs

I’m always excited when I get a new cookbook, but I found this one particularly exciting. Where I live, I’ve adapted to living in a place dominated by Trump culture, shocked by how the insular suburban attitude has taken over rural America. My adaptation mostly involves staying home here in the woods. I chiefly encounter presentday rural culture when I’m out on the road — heavy, gas-guzzling vehicles driving too fast and always tailgating, running over wildlife without even slowing down, the almost complete, and voluntary, abandonment of what was best about rural America by the very people who want to roll the clock back to the 1950s but wouldn’t have the vaguest idea how to do it. To them I would say (but I don’t): But you abandoned all that. Remember? It’s the Dollar General people who couldn’t make a biscuit if you held a gun to their heads who think they know the recipe for making America great again. I roll my eyes.

Anyway, this cookbook caused me to wonder whether pub food really is this fancy. But I suspect that more and more of it is, as well trained cooks from places such as the Cordon Bleu have moved to places where there is enough tourist traffic to support excellently executed traditional cooking. Good food from good ingredients prepared by good cooks cannot be cheap. Only in places where money flows freely can it be found. I am fondly remembering the pub at Benners Hotel at Dingle in County Kerry, where the tourist money flows freely, though to the irritation of people who have lived there since before Dingle was discovered. My recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, showed me that the taverns there do it right — good ale, good eats, and honest (because Williamsburg is so old) 17th Century atmosphere.

Strangely enough, there are two places within 12 miles of me that brew beers and ales. One of them I’ll never go to, because their photos show a metal building lit with fluorescent light, a stark interior, no food served. Sorry. That’s not a pub. The other place, in the little town of Madison, attempts to create some atmosphere, but they don’t serve food. I sampled their ale once and didn’t like it, so I won’t be going back. To my mind, good ale requires at least the option of food to go with it. Good bottled ales are easy to find these days, and for some reason I find myself drinking more ale and less wine.

To the person who ran over the fox yesterday on Highway 772, and to the persons who hit the deer and the three squirrels that I saw on the road yesterday while making a grocery run: Please tell me again how you plan to make America great again. While I wait, I’ll just stay home.

I think I’ll try the bleu cheese and walnut tartlets first.


  1. Chenda wrote:

    I envy your cooking skills David. My image of the best of 1950s Americana is cosy New England towns, Patricia Highsmith novels and Edward Hopper paintings.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda: I often wonder how much New England towns have changed. I spent the summer of 1975 in a little town in the Berkshires, western Massachusetts, not far from Vermont. My guess would be that rural New England has been much smarter about preserving its bucolic character. Here in the Southeast, car travel controls everything — roads, more roads, strip development, more strip development, and farmland turned into suburbanized developments as cities push outward. I chose the place I live now because the foothills terrain is incompatible with suburbanization, at least in my lifetime. I once heard someone who works for the county complain that most businesses won’t come here because there are so few places flat enough to make a parking lot.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  3. Chenda wrote:

    Hi David

    I spent some time in Maine some years ago and there were indeed lots of unspoilt small towns. You could certainly live car free there. Hopefully the energy crisis will help prompt a shift away from car based infrastructure.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

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