An Institution in the South
By Ell Hawley
Music from the jukebox plays as my waitress hums along. Shades block one wall of windows from the Mississippi sun. The air conditioning helps it stay cool. My waitress is pleasant and smiling as she takes the order I want (not an order I picked off the menu). She calls it out to the two capable men working the grill. In this small icon, there are three waitresses kindly serving about twenty customers. It feels good here.
She brings my order—two eggs over medium, hash browns, toast, bacon, a waffle, and orange juice. Yes, it’s a lot of food (I’m tasting everything)! Sometimes cooks have trouble with eggs “over medium,” but not this cook. He nails it—the balance between the structure of a cooked egg and the gooey middle. It was perfect. The bacon was literally the best bacon I’ve eaten in ten years, with its crispy parts and the fat parts that have been properly rendered. The signature waffle was fluffy as it ought to be, and the syrup was thick and sweet. The huge orange juice was a surprise, because it was robust instead of watery. I loved it. As a matter of fact, I loved every single thing they cooked for me. Did I mention that my breakfast cost $10.24? That’s a bargain for that amount of delicious food.
It seems that one of the cooks is in charge. He is calm and joyful at the same time. My waitress makes a mistake on a customer’s order and then talks to the cook apologetically. She humbly apologizes to the customer, too. He takes the news without overacting; he’s calm.
When I lived in the South, I frequented many Waffle Houses. Some are the kind of places only drunks go, but not this one. This Waffle House on 4411 Denny Avenue in Pascagoula, Mississippi, is clean and joyful and has delicious food. It’s waiting for you now, because it’s open twenty-four hours.