By Larry Levine –

Strike two.

We just spent three days in Georgia and couldn’t find a Georgia peach. Even at a restaurant where peach cobbler was on the menu, we were told they had run out of it. My thought, supported by the relatives we were visiting, was it was too early in the season – beginning of May.

Then, at a roadside fruit stand in north Florida, I found a display of peaches in small buckets. The woman running the stand told me 90% of the Georgia peach crop was wiped out by a frost. The peaches she was selling, she said, were grown in Florida and probably were the last of the year for the same reason. She cut a slice for me to taste. Delicious. I wanted to buy two and make them my lunch but she said she’s only allowed to sell them by the bucket.

Strike one in what is becoming a misfortune south of the Mason-Dixon Line came several years ago in Key West Florida. During a two-day stay I couldn’t find even a single slice of key lime pie.

I try to make a point of eating things of particular note in the places we visit. Maine lobster in Maine? I’ve had dozens of them. Haggis in Scotland? Absolutely. Po’ boys, red beans and rice, gumbo, etouffee, crawfish, and jambalaya in Louisiana? Of course. Regional sausages and full breakfast fry ups throughout the UK. Tyler Texas bar-b-que in Tyler Texas. Softshell crabs at Chesapeake Bay. A couple dozen varieties of oysters in Washington State and British Columbia. Mole con pollo in Oaxaca. Boston baked beans in Boston. Cheese steak sandwiches in Philadelphia. Chicago Dogs at Wrigley Field. Nathan’s Famous hot dogs at Coney Island. Tortellini en brodo at Emilia Romagna. Escargot in Paris.

But no Key Lime pie in the Keys or Georgia Peaches in Georgia. At dinner in Delray Beach Florida there was Key Lime pie on the menu a couple nights ago. We weren’t in the Keys and I didn’t feel like having dessert just for the sake of dessert. I’ve had plenty of Key Lime pie, just never in the Keys.

Another great disappointment came in Dover England, where I wanted Dover Sole and there was none on offer. Just Lemon Sole. I don’t count this as a strike because I had Dover Sole the night before in Calais France and I get it frequently in L.A. Still, it would have been nice to have Dover Sole in Dover.

Later this year, we’ll be in Copenhagen Denmark, where I hope to have Danish pastry. We’re planning a day trip to Malmo where I hope to have Swedish meatballs in Sweden. I’ve been eating Danish pastry most of my life, but not in Denmark and I have the recipe for the Swedish meatballs from Scandia, the long-gone Los Angeles restaurant. But that doesn’t count. It must be in Sweden.

Back when Donald Trump first proposed building his wall, I said I could support it if it were on the Mason-Dixon Line. I’ll confess: I have a visceral prejudice when it comes to the American south. I’ve said often there’s only two reasons to be in Florida: to visit relatives or to visit the space center. If I can’t have Key Lime pie in the Keys or a Georgia peach in Georgia, then why bother.

I began saying that about Florida long before Ron DeSantis became governor and moved the state to the far edges of right wing extremism. As we approached the Florida border when leaving Georgia a few days ago, I wondered if we would have to declare and dispose of our books as we must divest ourselves of produce when entering California by auto. Florida, after all, is the state where the racist tomahawk chop was invented. Atlanta GA bills itself as the “new south” and wants us to believe it’s leaving its racist past behind. But go to an Atlanta Braves baseball game and you’ll be serenaded by that same chop chant. Fans and the team insist there’s nothing racist about it. Yeah, sure. On the other hand, one cannot miss the influence of the names of famed Black leaders on streets and buildings in Atlanta or the presence of a well-integrated population in the city’s business centers.

Anyway, here I am, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, looking suspiciously at those around me and wondering which of them voted to elect and then re-elect a book-banning, LGBTQ-baiting, neo-fascist governor.

Those who have followed my musings at the political blog The Political Dish may remember I proposed telling the south there’s been a terrible mistake; they actually won the war; now leave. I don’t wear prejudice, bias, or intolerance proudly. My only real prejudice is against prejudice and in today’s America there’s plenty to keep me occupied.

Would I forgive all these sins for a slice of Key Lime pie, a real Georgia peach. I think not. Not as long as they keep chanting and insisting it isn’t racist and electing a re-electing the likes of DeSantis.

As for the space center and our relatives, that’s a different matter.

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