Good food, greetings nourish body, soul

Published 4:48 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

Almost a year ago, an inaugural football coverage assignment found me traveling up Alabama Highway 97 to cover the 56th annual 45 Classic football game. Along the way I stopped for dinner at Choo Choo’s Burgers and BBQ, where I discovered the best brisket sandwich man ever made.

On Friday, I headed into Lowndes County for another football game, Central High School’s homecoming game, to watch the Lions scorch the Red Devils in their first season win. 

Choo Choo’s was closed for the evening, so we caught Mary Bell at DeepWoods in Hayneville just before closing and found that there is someone who makes better cabbage and cornbread than Mama used to make.

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DeepWoods is a meat-and-three style diner right on Highway 97. The inconspicuous building gives only one indication for the hours of operation – if the neon open sign is glowing, diners can count on some of the best soul food they ever tasted, chased with a heaping helping of “you are welcome here.”

We were not sure Bell offered dinner, so when we found the dining room empty, we almost got back in the car, but when we asked, “Are you still open?” their resounding response followed, “If we still  have something you want, we’ll serve you.”

And, they sure did.

We selected fried chicken, cabbage, green beans, candied yams, and cornbread are were not disappointed. Truth be told, I haven’t had such tasty cabbage and sweet potatoes since Mama stopped cooking Sunday dinner, and honestly, even before.

The food was delicious – the epitome of comfort food, soul food down to the last morsell.

But what filled us that evening was not just the food – it was the warm welcome, given with heartfelt enthusiasm and received with a hearty appetite.

Lowndes County people have a way of making visitors feel at home. The good food and kind words our server expressed about the quality of a recent Playbook issue were a much-needed boon to this writer’s soul.

The experience served as an important reminder, one that prompts me to take the time necessary to make others feel welcome and appreciated. Hospitality is a rare feast for the spirit, one which DeepWoods serves up with soul food in heaping helpings.