Rule #37 – Everything is better with friends and family
Load up for the Food Eating Tour!
The Magical Food Eating Tour is ready to take you away… ready to take you away, take you today.
(apologies to John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
This may sound insensitive and criminal – to talk about food so close to the New Year and all those weight loss resolutions. We see commercial after commercial for diet products and gym memberships at this time of the year. Like it’s our time of atonement for the food sins of the past year… sorry, I don’t think so.
Fact – Eating nourishes the body – and the soul and the interpersonal relationships and the mind and – well, I could go on.
Last May, I got a chance to experience a total foodie experience aboard the General Jackson Steamboat in Nashville. It was during my pilgrimage to Music City with my daughter and my aunt. We decided to try something totally different on this trip. Now, I’ve been to big dinners before; been to dinner theaters and wine tasting parties, too. This was a trip back into time, back to a simpler era of travel.
|General Jackson Steamboat Cruise|
The General Jackson moors on the Cumberland River, just outside of the Opryland Hotel. As we queued up, we listened to local musicians playing some hard-core country music. Some potential passengers even started dancing. That’s when I knew I was attending a spontaneous party.
|Top deck party central|
As we boarded the boat for our evening cruise, we were greeted by a few costumed hosts. They encouraged us to move freely around the boat. We could head to the upper deck, where we found a bar – and another band. It was cocktail time, and, yes, we did indulge even though alcohol was not part of the event price. Soon the paddle wheel started turning, we slipped our mooring, and we were rollin’ (rollin’), rollin’ (rollin’), rollin’ on the river. Ah, a sunset cruise on the Cumberland!
|Admission covers cruise, food and entertainment|
We were seated in the dining room shortly after we left the dock. There’s nothing like the feeling you just stepped onto the set of “Gone With The Wind” or “Showboat”. The master of ceremonies soon arrived on stage to greet us all, announce birthdays and anniversaries, recognize tour groups, and get us in the mood for a fun-filled, foodie experience.
|Ready to go|
Our waiter and his assistant introduced themselves to our table and checked for food allergies. I made sure that my daughter’s onion allergy was noted when I booked the tickets. Our waiter discussed the particulars with her and took the information back to the kitchen. He showed us where the cash bar was located, in case anyone at our table wanted adult beverages. Then the feast began.
|Salad for starters|
Course number one was your basic salad. Here we served ourselves the dressing of choice, in the amount we wanted. Breads were already available, as was water, tea and coffee, and soft drinks.
|Main course of beef tenderloin and shrimp|
Our main course was beef tenderloin in a red wine reduction, spiced shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans. The proteins were cooked to perfection. The beans were crisp, and not mushy at all. The potatoes – well- Yo Chef, how about sharing the recipe? The timing was perfect between the salad course and the main course. We had enough time as a table group to get to know each other. It also gave us time to swap tourist stories and get suggestions on what else to see in Nashville. No one felt rushed during the meal.
|Sunset over Nashville in May|
|Home of the Tennessee Titans|
|Recycled roller coaster parts make interesting art|
After the main course, we had a long break in the food action. We all got a chance to get up and walk around the boat again. The sun was setting by then and we sailed into Nashville’s downtown area. We stood on the deck and got a glimpse of the Clubs at the waterfront. Yes, we found Coyote Ugly. We sailed past LG Stadium, home to the Tennessee Titans NFL team. We steamed on past a unique sculpture made from discarded amusement park rides. Along the way, we passed under a number of the bridges linking downtown with the eastern suburbs of the city. Lots of people stood on the bridges and waved as we went by.
|Dessert - before|
After that half hour break, and adult beverage refills, we sat down to the ultimate comfort dessert – cheesecake, with chocolate and strawberries. The add-ons were a choice each diner had – one, the other or both. Decisions… decisions…
|Dessert - after.... happy tummy|
|Show - The Heart of Tennessee|
Once dessert was cleared, our show began. The cast took us on a musical tour through the Heart of Tennessee. The presentation divided the state into three sections, grouped around the three major cities. We visited the eastern part of the state, around Knoxville and the Appalachians, where we learned about the origins of bluegrass music. Next we musically stopped on the western side, around Memphis. Here we caught up with early rock and roll, rockabilly, and the blues. Lastly, we focused on the central part of the state, around Nashville, the center of country music. Audience members got involved with the cast on stage, dancing. Many of us (like me) didn’t wait for the invitation. We just danced near our tables. There’s some YouTube video floating somewhere of all of us free lance dancers.
|Music from Memphis|
We left the dock at 6 pm and returned around 10 pm. None of us were ready to call an end to the evening.
Next time you head to Nashville, check out the General Jackson Showboat. Shows change depending on the season, and so does the menu. Tickets can be purchased before your trip at http://www.generaljackson.com/ and prices vary depending on the boat and the meal you choose. Vegetarian and gluten free menus are also available, but you need to note any dietary issues when you book your tickets.
Step back in time, set a spell, and relax with an evening on the General Jackson. You’ll make lots of new friends and enjoy the company you bring.
And – like we were told as we left the showboat - y’all come back now, hear?
All photos are the property of Marge McGugan. No reuse or copying without written permission.