Somewhere between Gainesville, Florida and Savannah, Georgia we stopped at a Waffle House just off I-95. Jamie had never eaten at a Waffle House before. I’d eaten at one in Georgia before and was excited to try my hand at ordering the hash browns just how I wanted’em: Smothered, Covered & Chunked (Onions, Cheese and Ham).
As we filed in, and grabbed a table, I remembered that I wanted to grab some of our Sip Snap Savor post cards to leave at the Waffle House. So I ran back outside to grab some postcards. As I swam through the parking lot…a giant big rig pulled up. A man jumped out, he had short hair and was wearing grimy jeans.
He flew ahead of me to hold the door open.
I knew from the gun that he wanted to talk to me. I could feel it. So I decided to converse with him on my terms. He took the booth right behind us. I spun around in my seat and handed him a flyer.
That was all he needed.
Boyd Coots was his name and he was a truck driver from Kentucky. And, honey, Jacksonville, Florida was the end of the line for him. The vurrry ind.
Boyd told us about:
– Being in a POW in ‘Nam.
– Eating grubs and worms.
– Weighing 85 pounds in a Vietnamese Concentration Camp.
– Being shipped to a DC hospital when he was rescued.
Then he told us about:
– Losing his parents in the early 70’s
– Fighting with his sisters
– Not being able to trust a woman
– Having to sell his farm and starting to drive a truck
– The best ways to cook coon and gopher
And finally he mentioned his mother’s good old-fashioned cabbage rolls she used to make him. Without a word, I handed him my green journal notebook. He held it in his hands for a second. Then we both leaned in and flipped pages together to get to a blank spot so he could write down his mother’s recipe as best as he could remember it.
Old-Fashioned Cabbage Rolls
Make vegetable soup: several parts water, pinches of salt and pepper, several handfuls of corn kernals, fresh green beans cut in half, cubed potatoes and a can of tomato soup. Let simmer for several hours on low.
Meanwhile, fry up ground chuck roast. Let it cool and drain. Steam up a pot of rice. Let it cool, too.
Take cabbage leaves and fill with ground chuck and rice and the vegetable soup. Wrap up/Roll Up. Put in a baking pan. Top with remaining soup. Bake it at a low heat for 4-6 hours.