Serious Eats: Drinks
Hangover Helper: Country Ham and Cornmeal Cakes at Pancake Pantry in Nashville, TN
Eating your way down south, somewhere around Virginia you start noticing "city ham" on every menu, even at Waffle House and Cracker Barrel. If you're a Northerner, you might think it's some sort of obscure regional delicacy. It's not. It's the same pink, wet ham that we eat all the time, and maybe came from a can. In the South, this stuff is labeled as "city ham" because the word "ham" alone means Country Ham—a delicious, salted, dry-cured (and often smoked) American cousin to prosciutto.
In the wrong hands, country ham can be a leathery salt-bomb, but this massive bone-in slab from The Pancake Pantry in Nashville was incredible. Salty and fatty like the best thick cut bacon you've ever had, but still moist with a touch of prosciutto-like funk. It's even better when served with two absolutely perfect over-easy eggs.
Of course, you can't come to the pancake pantry without also ordering pancakes. I'm not a big fan of the things, probably because I haven't been eating the right ones. The Pantry's "classic Old South water ground cornmeal pancakes" were like the lightest, fluffiest cornbread you could imagine. Perfectly golden brown and delicious with the whipped butter, and would have been fine even without a drizzle of hot maple syrup or the Pantry's signature cinnamon cream syrup.
Be warned: you're going to be waiting in a line out the door on the weekends, although it moves pretty fast. The Pancake Pantry restored my faith in pancakes, and was definitely the best breakfast I had—not only in Nashville but during an entire week long trip through the south.