Thursday, 22 November 2012

Rubbery Chicken and Musical Madness at Sun Studios

Memphis. Three-nights of insane good time fun.
Let me break it down for ya now: 

Beale St and Wednesday night's Earnest Warblers.
After a light afternoon snooze and a trip to the airport to confirm we'd be able to hire a set of wheels on the 17th, we headed to the bright lights and hot blues clubs of Beale Street. It's three blocks crammed full of clubs, tat shops, general oddities and bars such as B.B King's, Hard Rock, a voodoo alley and Superior Karaoke. On the hunt for happy hour deals, we meandered along looking into shadowy windows and laughing at the absurdity of one menu selling deep fried strawberries.
Yeah. I know.
I convinced Leah to have a drink at Superior Karaoke. It was loaded with X Factor wannabes yowling their best country n western, heavily obese black women their voices smoother than a tumbler of bourbon and a Lady Thang (imagine an obese Kate Hudson blended with a generous heap of Miss Piggy) who I couldn't work out if Leah loved or loathed. She watched Thang with this intense fire, mesmerised by the furious whipping of her curly blonde hair, laughing at an unimaginably hilarious anecdote. Her false lashes dipped into her pint glass, tinging the amber liquid with streaks of black mascara as she looked seductively across the bar at the MTV camera that surely must've been concealed somewhere in the venue. Why else this show, Lady Thang? She was ridiculous, a star spangled cartoon who clearly thought she was all that and a bag of chips and I loved her.
Between her, the grinding of Leah's teeth, the blinding display of musical talent and $6 glasses of Big Ass Beer, it was the best Wednesday night I've had this side of August.
The next morning, on the advice of the biggest Yankophile I know, we headed towards the waterside to find the hallowed ground that is Gus's World Famous Chicken restaurant. Tucked between industrial looking shop fronts, it doesn't look like much. But the reviews on Yell told a different story. 'I WANNA MARRY GUS'S CHICKEN AND HAVE IT'S NUGGETS!!', one hysterical customer had declared. Another proclaimed it was the best chicken he'd ever had, but please, no one tell his mama, it'd break her heart. GQ Magazine had selected it as one of the top three restaurants to fly across the country for. It had a lot to live up to. We pushed through the glass door and stood in line, gawking at the fried turkey promotions for Thanksgiving, special prices for Ugly Pecan Pie and talking to Kook, a friendly bottle blonde who promised me that we were on the way to Fried Chicken Heaven. She wasn't wrong.


I ordered a plate of dark chicken which came towards my salivating face with chips, coleslaw and the best barbeque baked beans I've ever had. I'm not really into BBQ. I find the sauce can be sickly and sweet just does not go with meat in my cookbook. But these beans. Yes.
They came second to the chicken. Arriving searingly hot from the frier, the chicken landed on the plastic red-checked table, the excess grease dripping on a slice of inexplicably placed white bread.
The succulent flesh, encased in tracing-paper-thin batter hinted at a twist of pepper and peeled easily from the main piece, gently releasing ribbons of steam and fragrant poulty aromas towards my twitching nostrils.
It was deliriously good, certainly some of the best chicken I've eaten. No meat sweats, a huge calorie debt but absolutely no regrets.

We also did a tour to Sun Studios. Obviously. I'd have to slap myself with a rubber chicken if I'd gone all the way to Memphis and failed to visit this womb of legendary talent.
A heavily sideburned man theatrically led us through the studio's history, playing scratchy original versions of Elvis's first song and Johnny Cash's recordings.
Then - and this was by far the best part - we entered the recording room where all these makers of history sang, sweated and breathed. It was AMAZING. The ceiling was rippled like a giant McCoy's crisp to help with acoustics and there were three spots marked on the ground with black crosses that showed where the King of Rock and Roll once really, truly, madly stood belting out the kind of hits that made millions of people mess their pants with excitement. Leah and I stared transfixed at the ground then shuffled towards the spot in silence.
I felt a tiny pea of jubilation seeping into my own gusset.

Super cool.

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