One thing that may come as no surprise–I’m a food lover. It doesn’t matter if it’s Asian, Mexican, Greek, Caribbean or Puerto Rican food, I’ll eat it.
I try something new regularly, but my heart and appetite always reverts back to soul food.
Soul food is not just yummy, but it’s comforting too.
I couldn’t ask my mom to make me a small Thanksgiving feast in the middle of the week, because the answer would have been no (with another word in front of no). So, I ventured to Ms. Nancy’s Place in Merchantville. I’ve heard so much about this place from friends and family, that I knew I’d be able to get what I was looking for.
I ordered the fried chicken entree (dark meat) with mac and cheese and collard greens. If that wasn’t enough chicken for me, I just had to try the pineapple jerk wings and a side of candied yams. Soul food eateries always have the best desserts, so I indulged even more and got a slice of red velvet cake.
I opened the platter and the food’s appearance took my breath away. The cheese in the mac and cheese glistened so brightly, while the skin on the chicken was so brown and beautiful. The buttery piece of cornbread nestled right on top of it all was an added surprise.
I love dark meat, and when I bit into the thigh, and tasted all the juices rushing into my mouth, that reconfirmed why. Simply, dark meat is much more flavorful than white. Additionally, the skin was crunchy, which is the only way fried chicken skin should be (not up for debate).
The first scoop of mac and cheese I took had a big yellow piece of cheddar that hadn’t fully melted into the noodles. When I say this is in the top five best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had, I tell no lies. What I love about mac and cheese is how sweet it is, yet the well-salted noodles help balance the sweetness. Ms. Nancy’s mac and cheese also had some extra flavor to it. I couldn’t make out if it was extra garlic or what (Ms. Nancy if you’re reading, I’ll be in contact soon), but what ever the special ingredient was, gave it more savoriness.
Collard greens are always the perfect supplement to a heavy meal. The vinegary salty veggie was full of flavor, and surprisingly only prepared with vegetable broth. There aren’t many places that can make quality greens minus the meat. Ms. Nancy however, had it perfected.
It was time for the wings, and the thick sauce resting beautifully over them, had juicy pieces of pineapple in it. I picked one up and watched the sauce slowly drip back onto the foil. I took a bite and it was crisp and flavorful, just like the fried chicken thigh. The sauce really made the wings what they were. Any dish that’s sweet and spicy, with hints of salt and a little tang to it, is a winner.
Ms. Nancy should really consider selling that sauce in bulk. It could turn surely anyone’s bland meal into something so spectacular!
If I had to pick my favorite soul food side dish, it would be yams. These yams were huge circles baked in a sweet and sticky broth. The yam “sauce” was the same consistency as the sauce on the pineapple jerk wings. It was addictively sweet and had a hint of citrus in there (maybe pineapple, or orange juice. Ms. Nancy, enough with the secrets!). The yams were the only side I finished right then and there. I looooveeeee yams.
I could tell just by looking at the bright red slice of cake, that it was going to be something special. I saw tremendous moisture running rampant. I didn’t nibble on it, I shoved the whole thing in my mouth and let the sweetness do its magic. This was one of those treats that you eat and go tell anyone who will listen all about it. It was phenomenal and the icing may have been even better than the cake. I could eat the cream cheese icing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and any meal in between.
My weekday feast left me extra stuffed and happy. Whenever you’re craving a meal reminiscent of what mom, grandmom, or auntie used to make, run with all of your speed to Ms. Nancy’s Place. You’ll thank me later.