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Grub on the Road Food Friday: Brunswick Stew and the Best Places to Get it.

One of the treasures of growing up in Georgia is a dish called Brunswick Stew. It was sort of a traditional dish that I have fond memories of, as my grandfather made it many years for New Year's Day.

It's a dish that really doesn't have a recipe, per se. It'll have chicken and/or pork... parts...with various vegetables such as corn, lima beans, tomatoes, okra, and so on. I'll admit, it's not everyone's bowl of soup, but, for me, if you find the good stuff, it's a meal unto itself.

Now, a word to the wise. There are some who claim that Brunswick Stew comes from Brunswick County, Virginia. But the real stuff came out of Brunswick, Ga., over on the coast.

So, first of all, go to Georgia. Secondly, don't go to a fancy-and-clean BBQ place. You want a joint that has a dirt or gravel parking lot, and if it has about 25 pickup trucks in it at noon, you want to go there.

The building itself will be wood framed or aluminum siding, and it may have had several additions added to it since the original. This is a good sign that people here know how to cook.

Inside, the walls will be adorned with old Farmer's Almanac calendars and/or metal Coke signs with mercury-filled thermometers. There could be posters of the local high school football team's schedule and, surely, there will be University of Georgia football paraphernalia around. And some sort of a cross and a prayer. And the wall is likely to have panelling from the 1970s.

When you sit down, you will get a red plastic glass that will hold about 67 oz. of sweet tea. They will not have unsweet tea, so don't ask.

Now, Brunswick Stew will most likely come as a stand alone dish or with a heap of coarsely chopped pork - the kind you put the vinegar sauce on and then wonder where the sauce went (at least I did as a kid).

The stew will come with 2 slices of white bread and pickle slices (sweet or dill, but not both, it's kinda like immersion or sprinkled for baptisms in a church - you'll get one, but not the other). Oh, and the stew likely will come in a bowl that looks like something you would've had in a middle school cafeteria.

A good stew does not need any additions, but the kid in me needs two things - a good dousing of Tabasco (Texas Pete will do in a pinch) and about 14 Saltines.

For me, there is an area of the state that does Brunswick Stew well, and that is the section along I-85 around Lake Hartwell.

In Gumlog, there is Gumlog Barbecue and Fish Lodge. During my visit there, I was able to sweet talk the waitress out of a 2nd bowl at no extra charge, as I mentioned how delicious it was.

The second place is Smitty's Family Restaurant in Carnesville, which has the best stew I've ever had. Without question. The cow pasture across the street and the wood burning in the smokers in the parking lot tells you this will be good.

Finally, take the trip down to Royston for a tour of the Ty Cobb Museum, then make the short drive to Franklin Springs and have lunch at the Bar H Barbecue.

At this place, not only are young ladies walking around with pitchers of sweet tea with which they will refill your glass, they have young ladies walking around with pitchers of Brunswick Stew, with which they will refill your plate. Seriously.

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