Virginia might be well known for it's wineries, and perhaps a few specialty items like peanuts or ham, but like most small towns (I use that term loosely) Charlottesville is probably not well known as a foodie mecca. I'm here to make the case that large metropolises are not the only places with great food cultures. As an aspiring food scholar, I could not have picked a better setting. Here are the reasons why:
1. Southerners know a thing or two about comfort food.
I live a block from a humble roadside stand with some truly legendary fried chicken. Philly might have scrapple but we've got pimento cheese. Oh and how did I not know about collard greens? I've also fulfilled my lifelong dream of tasting the glorious monstrosity that is the Kentucky Hot Brown, see below. (Ok, that last one is native to Kentucky, but I don't see them serving it up north.) I'm not saying I'm a regular Paula Deen or anything. But when the mood strikes, an open faced ham, turkey and bacon sandwich soaked in cheese gravy really hits the spot...
2. It's locavore's paradise.
Local Polyface Farm attracted national attention in the movie Food, Inc. but it seems like local food isn't just a trend but a part of everyday life around here. One local upscale restaurant features produce from a different local family's farm each week. There are community gardens almost everywhere. They grow apples here like it's nobody's business. The tofu made by the local co-op Twin Oaks is the best I've ever had. All the tofu and apples I've been eating cancel out the fried chicken right?
3. They don't lack in variety.
Besides the aforementioned fried chicken joint, I also happen to live on the same block as an awesome dive bar (that serves up some great BBQ), a fancy pizza place, a thai restaurant, and a mexican restaurant. Don't worry, we have our fair share of fancy french places, sushi bars, and trendy fusion places too.
Ok, there is one thing that this place lacks. C'Ville could use a few good food trucks. Yeah there's a local donut truck that drives around sometimes. But in a college town like this, a few strategically placed lunch trucks would make a killing. There's nothing like a breakfast sandwich hot off the griddle. I'm pretty sure that was one of my basic food groups when I lived in Philly. I've tried mightily to recreate it. It can't be done.
So there you have it folks. All of you big city snobs should consider that small town life isn't as bad as you might think. You can have your locally raised organic sausage and eat it too.