The Ozark Special

When you are stressed, tired, or just have nothing left to give, there’s nothing quite like comfort food. After trying edgy reimaginations of the classics, restaurants that try to fuse anything and everything with Asian, and international mystery plates, sometimes you crave some homemade goodness.

This past week we indulged in the travel equivalent of momma’s cookin’. For several years we have been spending a long weekend in the Ozark mountains along the Missouri/Arkansas border, and decided to go back for another helping this summer. To spice up a classic, we sent the kids off to camp and rented a cabin at Table Rock Lake. After our recent adventures, it was nice to visit someplace where the native language was (a version of) English, the food was familiar, and there was no rush to ingest every exotic moment before it faded back into the haze of “someday”.

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The verdant hills of the Ozark range are not as impressive as those farther west, but have an attainable beauty that is more apple pie, less caviar and pate’.

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Of course, any barrel has a few bad apples. We weren’t impressed with the guy driving a $400 pickup with a 4’x5′ confederate flag trailing behind, but you can find bigots and scared people with small minds anywhere. Like every place we’ve visited, people are generally kind and generous…

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The best part was a hiking trail behind our cabin that was virtually unused by anyone else; it’s like finding that hole-in-the-wall cafe where the waitress knows your name, and you can sit with your coffee for hours and feel right at home. It might not make the Michelin list, but it is special all the same.

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Comfort is the standard by which we judge newer experiences; just like momma’s cookin’, sometimes the standard is hard to beat.

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