After our memorable flight to Atlanta, we drove for a few hours in our trusty Jeep and got our heads down for the night so that we would be well rested for the following day. The first major stop on our trip was Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
Although my Mom, Dad and I lived in Mississippi for several years, we never made it over to Tupelo to pay homage to the birthplace of The King. As Neil was brought up listening to Elvis due to his Mum being a massive Elvis fan, we thought it was only right that we make a pit stop on our way to Memphis.
If you are in the Tupelo area or are a big fan of Elvis, I would thoroughly recommend a trip to his birthplace. A visit to the site really brings home how Elvis rose to stardom from extremely humble beginnings; what resonated with me was just how poor his family really were and the influence that living in small town Mississippi later had on his music. The house he was born in is known as a ‘shotgun’ house; this type of house is normally small and narrow, with rooms one behind the other and parallel front and back doors so that, in theory, with both doors open a shotgun could be fired and go in one door and out the other. Shotgun houses were synonymous with poverty from the end of the American Civil war to the early 1920’s and are common across much of the deep South.
Visitors to the site are able to view not only Elvis’ birthplace and childhood home, but also the Presley family church, a museum, a memorial chapel and a short film about the star’s early life. I must admit, the film was not quite to our taste and was rather over-dramatic but it gave us all a good laugh!!! We chose just to view Elvis’ home in Tupelo which cost the bargain price of $6; we only spent about an hour at the site but I should imagine you could spend a couple more here if you were to take the grand tour.
After wandering around the historic site for a while we got back on the road and carried on driving towards Memphis, Tennessee. Just short of the state line, we decided to stop at a McAlister’s Deli for lunch.
McAlister’s is a great lunch option when travelling in America; the chain is fairly substantial with branches dotted across the USA. Towards the end of our road trip we found that we were most definitely over-eating and also missing our vegetables; very few places offered lunch sized portions and most ‘sandwiches’ were served with a massive portion of fries on the side! Although the portions are still fairly large at McAlister’s, they are much more ‘lunch’ friendly plus the deli offers a large selection of more health conscious dishes from sandwiches and salads to soup and jacket potatoes – a very refreshing change!
Readers of this blog will be aware that I absolutely detest dull, boring salads; there is no fear of this at McAlister’s Deli! There is such a variety of dishes from well-known offerings such as ‘Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad’ to the more elaborate like ‘Taco Salad’ which includes toppings of chili, tortilla chips, cheddar, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream! Americans are so fantastic at coming up with delicious salad ideas; in fact, my trip to America inspired my recipe for my Mexican chicken salad which is packed full of flavour and rather good for you to boot, although you certainly wouldn’t think it is ‘healthy’!
I chose to eat the ‘Savannah Chopped Salad’ – sliced, grilled chicken breast, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, honey roasted almonds, tomatoes and cucumbers with mixed leaves and a sherry shallot dressing. Although this salad certainly wasn’t the healthiest option, it sure was delicious!! I must admit that I hadn’t thought of using dried cranberries on a salad but their slight sourness really complimented the gorgonzola.
Neil opted for the ‘McAlister’s Club’ – Buterball smoked turkey, Black Forrest ham, bacon, sharp cheddar, Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, McAlister’s Honey Mustard dressing and lite mayo on sliced wheat bread. All sandwiches come with the option of potato chips which is a slightly lighter option than fries!
The one thing we all remember from our pit stop at McAlister’s was the fab customer service and hilarious staff! There were several young girls who were serving that lunch time and they just could not get enough of our accents which had them in fits of giggles! They were all very sweet….I am guessing that they don’t get a lot of British people stopping by in that particular town.
All in all, a great first day. Next stop, Memphis, Tennessee!