Lets talk about starters

Published 11:00 am Sunday, August 1, 2021

By Jennie Guido

Growing up, we weren’t appetizer people. When the Guidos went out to eat, we went straight for the main course and skipped the starters.

It wasn’t until I went to college and was introduced to the many delicious appetizer offerings in the Mississippi Delta that I revisited the topic back home.

In the Delta, tamales are an appetizer. Here they are the main course. In Cleveland, lunch dates take over an hour because we would spend the first 15 minutes arguing which chip and dip we were ordering at either The Warehouse or A La Carte. Appetizers meant business; and since then, I’ve treated the appetizer section of each menu I meet differently.

One thing is clear; I love a spinach and artichoke dip. Some are served with tortilla chips and some are elevated with pita bread.

Either way, it’s my go to at most restaurants. The best one I’ve found in the area is at The Duck’s Nest on Lake St. John. Let me say this — it’s more than just a dip. If you served this over pasta, created a soup out of it, or added chicken and rice to bake it into a casserole, I wouldn’t be mad at it.

It’s cheesy, creamy, and rich unlike any other in town. It’s served warm with homemade tortilla chips (yum), and I have a hard time not having it as a main course. 

I will be honest. We learned the hard way that maybe an appetizer, greens, hushpuppies, and an entree make for a difficult ride back to Natchez.

Next time, I may skip the entree or just order it to go because I will not leave any spinach or artichoke behind.

Next on my list are fried pickles. I like them any way they come to be honest. Thick or thin. With or without a dipping sauce. They are just plain good. However, what Moo’s has done with a pickle is almost revolutionary.

Allow me to introduce the pickle stick, my friends. They have taken dill pickle spears and sliced them thin, deep fried them, and served them with ranch. They are crispy, salty, and not overpowering like you would like with that much pickle. Who knew? Kudos to you, Moo’s. Your pickle sticks are a keeper.

Finally, I have to mention another favorite chip and dip in town. Magnolia Grill may have a solid choice in their spinach and artichoke dip, but it is outweighed by the cream cheese Rotel they offer.

Maybe I’m a fan because I make this dip myself at home, but what is it about a dish that makes it so good when someone else cooks it for you?

Again, I was introduced to this variation of Rotel in the Delta. I had a roommate that wasn’t much of a cook, but she made this dip from time and time. It’s so simple yet so rich and good.

So when I come home to find this delicacy on a menu, I was thrilled! It is served with tortilla chips, but to be honest, you really only need a spoon.