Natchez and Another Roadside Attraction

We crossed the river to Natchez, explored the visitor center, one street of antique shops, and then went down Silver St. to ‘Under-the-Hill’. Beneath the bluffs (Natchez proper) where respectable folk built their fine homes and culture, Under-the-Hill (sometimes referred to as Natchez improper) used to be a low area of disrepute with all manner of shady businesses looking to fleece the crews of the docking riverboats.  In Mark Twain’s time, hundreds of paddle-wheeled steamboats passed this spot loaded down with passengers and freight.

All that remains is a large, disappointing, riverboat casino, ‘The Isle of Capri’ that’s permanently moored there. We boarded her, took an elevator up from the chaotic chimes and flashing lights of the slot machines and fog of cigarette smoke on the main deck, to dine in its upper restaurant, only to discover that its recent refurbishment had replaced all the clear windows with frosted glass, negating what could have been a pleasant river view, and the stale cigarette smoke negated the smells of the buffet. We disembarked.

Big Momma’s Barbecue sounded promising: it might be the same sort of discovery as Rita Mae’s had been in Morgan City. It turned out to be similar: tiny, with just a few tables inside and sincere Southern food. It had its own smoke-house out back and our meals both had some excellent smoked turkey as part of them, with no cigarette smoke. The proprietor was very friendly and food was good.

Next day, we couldn’t resist dining at Mammy’s Cupboard, built in the 40s, first serving as a gas-station, later as a gift shop and now as a very busy little lunch restaurant known for its chicken pot pies.

The dining room was not in the ingeniously bricked skirt, but in a rectangular building behind it, but road-side architectural oddities like this must be supported or they’ll disappear from the landscape altogether.

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