The Best Hush Puppies Ever

By Michael J. Legeros

There's a lesser-known route between Raleigh and Atlantic Beach.
Take I-40 south, through Garner, past the customary U.S. 70 exit,
through Johnston county, past McGee Crossroads, and another fifty
(or so) miles to the Magnolia exit.  Go east (ten minutes?) until
you hit Highway 24 and then just follow that bad (and occasionally
agriculturally odiferous) boy all the way to scenic Jacksonville,
a military town with *miles* of neon-advertised roadside retail
establishments.  Pause to pawn guns and/or stereo equipment.  Continue
to Swansboro and finally Cape Carteret, in Carteret County.  At the
intersection with whatever road leads to the Emerald Isle bridge,
make a choice:  sound-side or ocean-side.  Both lead to AB, though
the former takes you through Morehead, the town where Yours Truly
spent his high-school years before relocating to North Carolina
State University.  Go Pack.  Now, about ten miles *west* of J'vil-
le, try a detour south on Highway 111, the road to Ellis airport.
One mile on the right is Thig's BBQ House and, if it's Friday after
sunset, the parking lot is probably full.  Go on inside.  The unas-
suming, single-room restaurant is simple as simple comes.  One row
of tables along a wall is the designated non-smoking section.  Two
white boards on opposite ends of the dining room are the menus.
Entrees (called "dinner plates" in these here parts) include pork,
chicken, hamburger steak, and, on Friday and Saturday nights, ex-
ceptionally tasty spare ribs.  (Plus two sides.)  The best part of
the meal, by far, is the hush puppies-- oblong spheres of deep-
fried corn meal and with more sugar in the mix than you'd expect.
The result is a crunchy, sweet-tasting confection that's almost a
dessert.  (Thus why the waitress notes "they're good with jelly,
too!")  No onion flavor, nor too much sweetness.  Just right.  Just
perfect.  The server that night also did something I've never seen
before: she brought *two* cups of Diet Pepsi, one with ice and one
without.  The latter was "some extra."  Smart gal.  I left a good
tip and with good words to the hostess, but not before ordering an
extra dozen certain somethings.  To go.

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


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