Although the Tar Heels lost their football game on Saturday, Merritt’s is always a win for a BLT. Our son, James, went back to UNC this past weekend to visit friends, hang out at the house, catch the game and drop by some of his favorite dives he enjoyed during his college days. Anyone who went to UNC knows Merritt’s. Their BLT’s, pimento cheese and sour dough bread are probably known world wide. Okay, well, if it’s not known world wide then at the very least it’s wildly popular in mid-state North Carolina. James took us for lunch during one of our first trips to visit him and we flipped over the place. Merritt’s stacks generous mounds of bacon strips entangled in a crispy, salty jumble. Added to the sandwiches are juicy slices of ruby red tomatoes and cold, crunchy leaves of lettuce . All this is bound together with a liberal slather of good mayonnaise on the bread of your choice. Our mouths drooled while our eyes were wide open with wonderment. It was the first of many adventures, culinary and otherwise, we shared with James. In fact, ALL our weekends with him at UNC were sensational. Our favorite boy was genuinely excited to see us, a marvelous host and a most fun master of ceremonies. He introduced us to UNC football and basketball games, Parent’s Weekends for both school and fraternity and all the best restaurants on Franklin Street and in Chapel Hill. We became acquainted with James’ friends and fraternity brothers, shop keepers, bell hops and waiters . I look back at those days with such happiness and fondness. Our son is always loving, thoroughly enjoyable and nonjudgemental even the time when Mama may have skirted the boundaries of proper parental behavior. Yes, there is one Parent’s Weekend that comes to mind. His fraternity had a cocktail party at the house Friday night. They had a band set up in the formal room or big hall, I don’t recall the name of the room and I don’t dare call James at his work and ask because he won’t want me to write this and may become slightly irritated with me soooooo… anyway the boys had several kegs tapped and ready to pour and a myriad of handles out; the pledges had spent the day cleaning so the house sparkled. Everything seemed to be perfect. The only hitch was the cocktail party started at 11:00…at night. Gentle Reader, I am IN THE BED at 9p.m. and, more often than not, lights are out at 10:00. It was tough staying awake that night but no one was going to call me a party pooper. Oh, hell no. I had to keep up and keep up I did. Drink after drink, before dinner, during dinner, after dinner… honey, time we hit that party this girl was LIT.UP. James gave us a tour of his room, introduced us to more brothers all the while the band played on, cranking out hit after hit and, of course, we kept on sippin’. Don’t want to let anybody down. And what a time we had! James and I danced to song after song reassuring me he’d have plenty of dances later with his gorgeous date after Daddy and I went back to the hotel.
What a time we had! While dancing it occurred to me the band sounded incredibly familiar and it turns out I HAD heard the band, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, at some party somewhere when I was in college! It was positively magical. Until James walked up and shouted in my ear so only I could hear, and these were his exact words, “It’s time to go home, Mama. C’mon. Time to go.” He told me the following morning at the 9:00a.m. Bloody Mary tailgate he realized it was time for me to go when he looked over and saw I was dancing in the corner by myself. Ouch, that hurts. But James, prince that he is, has never made fun of me or thrown it back in my face. No. He’s quite aware I may get a bit out of hand every now and again…we all do and there’s just no nice reason to be holier than thou. But, boy, did we have fun. And I’ll end this story by adding my husband, Jimmy, has never poked fun at me over this. Nope. Not a word.
Happy Parent’s Weekend everybody. Hope all of yours are as splendiferous as ours were. And I expect all of you to explore the towns where your kids are studying, their friends, suitemates, the town folk and all the foods and customs that go with them!
Bacon Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich
- 4 slices bread of your choice, toasting optional
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha or hot chili sauce of your choice
- 4 thick, fried green tomato slices. If you need a recipe type “fried green tomatoes” in the upper right search box.
- bib lettuce leaves, washed, dried and stem taken out
- 5 slices thick cut bacon already cooked
- freshly ground black pepper
- Lay out bread slices.
- In a small bowl mix mayonnaise and chili sauce until completely mixed. Add additional chili sauce to taste.
- Divide evenly and spread mayo-chili sauce mixture on one side of each slice of bread.
- Place one tomato slice on two of the four slices of bread.
- Break bacon slices in half, vertically, and arrange 5 pieces on top of the tomato slices.
- Carefully place lettuce over the bacon.
- Top the lettuce with another slice of tomato and dust with black pepper.
- Place the remaining bacon on top of the tomato slice and top that with the second slice of bread.
- Gently press down when slicing in half.
- Serve immediately.