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Southern Gentlemen and Pork Fat -- My Trip to Atlanta

Considering that I spent the better part of four beautiful, mild, sunny days inside a Hilton, I actually had a good trip to Atlanta.

I was there for the Equal Justice Conference, and moderated a panel presentation on disaster legal assistance. I hadn't met any of my co-panelists before we got there -- we coordinated the whole thing by phone and email -- so I had arranged to meet them in the lobby an hour before our panel. The two women were at our assigned meeting point, and all I knew was that I was looking for a guy named Mark. I started asking around the lobby -- I approached each man sitting alone and asked if he was Mark. One gentleman, in his late forties, when I asked if he was Mark, literally looked me up and down, lingering a tad too long on my cleavage, and said, in a deep southern drawl, "no, but I wish I was." I spun on my heel and walked away, thinking of all the clever things I should/could have said. Ick. I wanted to take a shower. Blech. Southern gentlemen, my ass, although I'm sure he thought he was giving me some sort of compliment.

If that was the low point, the high points were the people, a few good meals, and a forty-five minute stretch of lounging in the sun by the pool. First and foremost, I'd like to thank the Atlanta-based Chowhounds for responding to my post -- I had two great meals thanks to their suggestions. First was Watershed, a calm, soothing, airy spot in Decatur that features new Southern cooking and is co-owned by Emily Saliers, one of the Indigo Girls (the name is a tribute to their song). We had fried catfish and some of the best onion rings I have ever had -- light and crispy on the outside and sweet and chewy on the inside. I got the duck as an entree, served simply with figs, sauteed bok choy, and roasted parsnips (which I have currently declared to be my favorite vegetable). One of my co-workers got the special that evening, which was a Greek-style roasted fish. It was delicious. They also served warm cookies and milk for dessert.


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The next night was Harold's Barbecue. As we walked up to the place, there was a cop hanging out in front. I snapped a picture of him there, but was too self conscious to take a picture of him later, despite the fact that he was standing right next to a porcelain pig. It was so perfect -- you'll just have to imagine it in your mind. It was definitely a down-home, old-school barbecue joint. Our hands-down favorite of the dishes we ordered was the pork ribs -- juicy, tender, and succulent, with a tangy, vinegar-based sauce. Each plate was served with Brunswick stew, fantastic (non-mayo-heavy) coleslaw, and came with chips and a platter of cornbread. As I was inspecting the cornbread, I noticed chunks of something in it -- at first I thought it was apples, as they were sort of square and had the translucent quality of a cooked apple, but when I picked a chunk out and tasted it on its own, I realized that it was . . . pork fat. Nice. A special thanks to Tiela and Teresa for joining me in my adventure.

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Finally, I got to spend time with the extended Pro Bono Net family -- folks we work with all over the country -- and meet some great new people in the public interest legal community, mostly from California. It was a pleasure hanging out with Becky, the "legions of Stephens," Amy, Michelle, Tamarra, Marni, Megan, McGregor, and everyone else. We even made the most of being trapped in the Hilton by visiting all the hotel bars, including getting a round of drinks at Trader Vic's, the cheezy Polynesian-style joint. How can you resist drinks served in a conch shell?!

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