There Will Be Blood, Biscuits, and Big Hats

by cowboylands

A recent trip to Tennessee revealed many truths. 

Carter House (1000 Bullets)

Truth 1: There was a lot of blood spilled in Tennessee in the Civil War, and it spilled copiously on soil that now holds playgrounds and parking lots, historical markers and suburban lawns. Stories of battles (in this case, the famous Battle of Nashville) seem to be at the tip of everyone’s tongues. I can barely recall movie plots without resorting to Wikipedia, but in Tennessee, everyone seems to be able to recount vivid images from long-ago military encounters–so vivid that in the middle of a tour of a plantation house-turned-field hospital I kept peering out the windows, expecting to see the two-mile-deep Confederate line with its flags and bands and generals who were fated to be shot dead and brought to to the shaded porch of the house after the battle. Blood dripped from the wounded soldiers, gushed from under the doctors’ saws, and seeped from the piles of amputated limbs. The owner of the house had sanded the parlor floor, but the upstairs rooms still showed the dark stains. 

Carnton Plantation (Front)

Truth 2: On a lighter note, biscuits–light and fluffy and sweet–are the food of choice there, especially at the Loveless Cafe. Renowned for its fried chicken and catfish (planks of white meat so long you could build a boat out of them), this restaurant on the side of a busy highway keeps the biscuits coming. Why the Southern shout-out on a western blog? Children, please. If you know your history, those settlers living on the frontiers before the Civil War were living in Tennessee, making biscuits and trying to get along with the Chickasaw and the Cherokee. After the War Between the States (as the altercation is called elsewhere than the Northern territories), ruined farms and land goaded families to drift to find a better place. 

Truth 3: And Nashville is the land of the cowboy hats. Not the dusty, sweaty kind that you would find in Wyoming, but the sparkly, designer-stained, leopard-print-patterned kind you will only find in the home of country music. The sparkly, designer-stained, leopard-print-patterned kind of country music. I happened to be sitting behind a woman with a big cowboy hat on a tour bus. The kind of tour that passes around Cheez Whiz and crackers for snacks. The kind of snack that makes a Moon Pie look haute cuisine. Right, the woman on the bus. She stood out in a land of soft-spoken and friendly people. She was brash and smelled of hair spray. She came from New Jersey, so I felt better, knowing that this pleasant state hadn’t birthed her. 

Sheri Lynn and Brenda Kay of Nash-Trash Tours. 

Nashville is a town where George Jones rode his lawnmower to get a drink (his wife had hidden the keys to his car). It’s a place where country stars get little homes so they’ll seem like the rest of us–the part of the rest of us who won’t have to declare bankruptcy. It’s a place where the honky-tonks display the shiny parts of being a cowboy in neon lights and jukeboxes. It’s a place with whiz-bang grits and sage waitresses who recommend the sweet potato pancakes. 

Well worth the visit!



4 Comments to “There Will Be Blood, Biscuits, and Big Hats”

  1. I’m gettin’ hungry!

  2. It was delicious, if you like the stick-to-yr-ribs kind of food. I brought home some bacon (in more ways than one) and that, too, was sweet and vibrant.

  3. why the hell did you go there? the food does sound good, but why the hell did you… your travels frighten me, Bucko. New York is the only safe place in the world, even if we don’t have those biscuits. well…Popeyes does good. wait, they closed the first avenue place. damn it. screwed again. back to pierogois.

  4. Everyone has frontiers, and for some they are the East and Hudson rivers. I don’t tend to cross oceans much (that’s my frontier), but I’ll travel south or west as the interest (and jobs) take me. Frontiers=the edge of the Comfort Zone….

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