St. Simons, GA – April 8, 2013
“I was in the Marine Corps for 22 years, if I didn’t want to do this, I would tell you to F off.”
And that’s how I met Jim.
My friend Sid put us in touch and Jim told me he’d gotten me a hotel room in St. Simons. I called to turn him down. It felt like far too much from someone I didn’t know and I don’t do hotels. I haven’t this whole trip other than a few days in South Bend when I was visiting my dad and stayed with him.
It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. Many rainy, cold nights, I’ve thought about it, but I like facing the elements, meeting strangers, seeing cities through their eyes, reconnecting with friends. Hotels let you escape the world instead of facing it, they make it too easy to hide, so I banned them.
But when a Marine Corps Officer tells you he’s getting you a room, it’s almost an order.
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll meet you at the dock.”
Jim took me to Barbara Jean’s when I got in. It’s his wife Barbara’s restaurant. She’s German-Irish and born in Brooklyn, but if I had to guess from the food, I would have said South Georgia Coast without any hesitation. It’s classic southern food, hand made from scratch, the kind of place you can’t leave hungry.
I sat down with salt stained clothes, half dead from pushing up the coast as fast as I could and wanted to eat everything. Jim pulled the manager over and told her that anything I wanted was on him, same for dinner if I came back.
I took his word for it, because like he said, he’d been in the Marine Corps for 22 years.
That’s how I met the most dangerous thing I have faced on this trip, an open menu at Barbara Jean’s.
Crab cakes, fried catfish, corn bread, creamed spinach, pot roast, she-crab soup, beans, grits, it’s the king of food you dream about after days of granola and spoonfuls of peanut butter.
I’m just lucky to be alive.
Jim would probably kill me for plugging the restaurant, but he told me he “really doesn’t read blogs” so I think I’m safe. If you ever find yourself along the North Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina Coast, I definitely recommend trying Barbara Jean’s. I promise you won’t leave Barbara Jean’s without a smile and full stomach. The crab cakes are ridiculous. I saw people show up from hundreds of miles away to pick some up to bring home.