I doubt that any of the drivers of the trucks parked outside Dixie Dandy in the morning use the word “locavore” much, or have even heard or read it. Yet that’s what they are. Right here in Wewahitchka, Florida. You know Wewahitchka, don’t you? It’s where Peter Fonda lived in that Victor Nuňez movie, Ulee’s Gold. Peter is a beekeeper in a Florida town known for its Tupelo honey and Nuňez, a locavore of sorts since he lenses all his films in the Florida Panhandle, made Wewa, as it’s called by locals and in the movie, the beekeeper’s home and used the resources of the town’s own L. L. Lanier & Sons (www.lltupelohoney.com) for his character’s business.
The Dixie Dandy is on Highway 22 right before it heads toward Panama City. Panama City Beach, capital of the “Redneck Riviera”, is a Spring Break haven for Southern collegiates, a kind of Disney World for boozed-up youths. But these don’t make it to the Dixie Dandy. Locals do. In the morning they buy what the Egg McMuffin would be like if it were local made with great ingredients. Scrambled eggs – scrambled in the Dixie Dandy kitchen – in a biscuit – baked in the aforesaid kitchen – on top of a sausage patty – the real thing. And usually with a “link on the side”, meaning a short length of Register smoked sausage. I mean, you can’t have enough sausage, right?
Which brings me to the locavore issue. Register claims its sausage is eaten by thousands of people each week. How local is that? Well, that would be Northwest Florida, Southern Alabama and Southwest Georgia and no further. That’s local enough for me. There are other smoked sausages at local grocery stores, but why bother? Oh yes, the sausage is made with real pork casings.
There are no tables in or outside the Dixie Dandy. You either take it home or eat in your pickup. Of course, after breakfast there’s fare like fried chicken, greens, and that local favorite, fried chicken gizzards – good!
Wewa’s other big market is Rich’s IGA. No kitchen take-out, but sometimes the owner will offer smoked ribs in the parking lot, and for the holidays he’ll smoke pork butts and whole turkeys. In winter, you will find three grocery carts by the produce department, each stuffed with a different kind of greens: collards, turnip (with the turnips attached) and mustard. Cooking up a mess of both turnip and mustard greens is a favorite. These are not the wimpy bunches you find at Yankee markets, no sir. Each bunch will cook enough greens to feed a battalion – or a small Southern family.
Around these parts people are locavores because they’ve always been. Winter also brings beans and the markets are full of a wide range I never knew existed, like zipper peas. At the IGA checkout counter I heard a young woman, who judging from her looks must have been bodacious back in high school, tell the cashier she’d just made her husband some “lima beans with Register sausage.” I went home and made just that – with local fresh limas, of course. I added nothing else. Damn, if it wasn’t bodacious.