Kentucky Food: Paducah Deployment

From May 15-22 I was in Paducah, Kentucky for a United State Public Health field training and deployment.  In my “other life” I am on active duty with the USPHS and the deputy team leader of a Mental Health Team.  We train to deploy for disasters and other emergency or crisis situations. We stayed in the Air Dome in Paducah. We called it the giant marshmallow, the bubble, and many other things, but it was like staying in a hangar. The ceiling seemed to be 3 stories high and there was always a whirring sound from the generators.  We slept in cots, out in the open, both men and women together.
My cot is first one on the left.  Blue curtain in the background was the men’s “dressing room”
I arrived on Monday morning at 2:45 in the morning.  I couldn’t leave Azle until the garden tour was over (see previous post) so I took the latest flight to Nashville, 9:30 PM, arrived in Nashville at 11:30 PM and was greeted by the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment staff who drove me and some other late arrivals to Paducah, Kentucky.  We stopped along the way at Jack in the Box where the menu posted the calorie count of all their foods.  Yikes, the ultimate cheeseburger I ate back in 1990 the day after my youngest daughter was born had over a 1,000 calories!  What was I thinking?  I ordered the lowest calorie thing I could find, a chicken fajita pita, but it came with curly fries (and I ate every single one of them).  I had been so busy on Sunday I barely ate anything except a couple of my crostini after the garden tour was over. I was not expecting great food this week so I had some snacks with me just in case.  We did have food, though, provided by Neil, a local restuarant owner and caterer.  He specialized in chicken apparently, because it made an appearance every day.  Fried, baked, in a casserole, along with lots of cheesy, rich, potatoes and canned green beans.  He only knew one kind of salad, iceberg lettuce with bottled dressing. Plenty of storebought pies and cookies were on hand.  Breakfast was biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, some fruit and pastries.  We did not go hungry, but the food was just “OK”.  It was better than MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), though.
On Monday afternoon, during a meeting with Mr. Hank Cecil, the Regional Kentucky Crisis Response Team coordinator, in which we were planning our community missions for the week, he received word of a school bus accident in Carlisle County.  He asked our team for assistance and we were happy to help in any way.  We planned to go with him on Tuesday morning to speak to the superintendent and assess the situation.  It was such a sad and unfortunate tragedy for the families and school in a very close knit community of 4,000, and being a part of the response team was an honor.
with my good friend and fellow team member, CDR Dale Thompson, and on the right, Mr. Hank Cecil
 
Hot Brown–ham, turkey, cheese sauce and bacon on slice of bread
Heading back to Paducah I asked Hank Cecil about local cuisine.  I told him I had heard of Kentucky Hot Browns and asked if he ever ate them.  He seemed pleased to recommend a local restuarant called Happy House so we stopped there.  I ordered the Hot Brown and a piece of Derby Pie.  Both were delicious.
Derby Pie, nuts, chocolate, gooey goodness
It was great to eat at a local place, a historic building with a family run restaurant.  I asked Hank about the BBQ place my husband’s friend recommended and he also told us about Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand River.  He suggested our team join him there on Wednesday night.  It sounded like a great idea, and a way to escape the giant marshmallow for an evening.
Bread in a flower pot, pie, and their famous pork chop!
Patti’s is famous for many things, but particularly the 2 inch (and 1 inch) pork chop.  They also have the craziest pies I’ve ever seen.  The team had a great time and our table ordered 7 different pies.
Sawdust pie–I ordered this and shared it with Dale
 
Chocolate meringue pie
 
Bill’s Boatsinker Pie, dark double fudge pie topped with coffee ice cream, piled high with whipped cream, “drizzled” with chocolate syrup and topped with a cherry.
 
After tasting all the 7 pies I think I liked the boatsinker pie best.  Wish I had ordered it!  We had a great time at Patti’s, visiting with Hank and his lovely wife, Sandra.  I think she probably thought we were strange, but she was a good sport.  Hank paid for our dinners, all 13 of us, a big surprise.  He is such a great guy and we were all so blessed to meet him and work with him.
 
Other food highlights in Paducah:
 
Kirchoff’s Bakery, a family owned business since 1873 in a historic building in downtown Paducah.  What a gem!  Team members brought back cookies and bread to share and we were served cookies from Kirchoff’s at the Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board meeting on Thursday night. 
On Saturday a few of us went there for breakfast and I had a fantastic quiche and a cheese bagel.  The atmosphere was relaxing, quirky, and unique.  I love this type of place.  They had a collage of items dating back over 100 years.
 
 
I did not have a chance to eat any other meals there but after reading the menu I wished I had tried their “Korean Beef Sandwich” with bulgogi (Korean bbq), kimchi coleslaw, carrots, and cucumber in a housemade sesame bun.  Yum
 
Another good meal was at Max’s Brick Oven on Saturday night.  I ordered the crostini appetizer which was crostini topped with pancetta, fontina, gorgonzola and pesto salsa.  It was hot and bubbly and very tasty.
My grilled ahi tuna with ginger lime and cilantro sauce was also excellent.  The restaurant, however, was extremely noisy and busy so it was hard to talk and relax.
 
I was very glad to wake up Sunday morning and get ready to leave for home.  A week in the air dome was more than enough and I hope I never ever see another one of these:
 
 
At the Nashville Airport we stopped for a quick lunch and I had some really good barbeque pork at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  I decided that Nashville may be a good food destination in the future.
Back to work tomorrow and time to start thinking about upcoming food events–Japanese Society cooking class on June 4, Farmers Market demo, June 11, private cooking lesson, June 11, and private dinner party on Italian dishes, June 18, trip to New Orleans, June 20-25.   I will always remember the community of Paducah, Kentucky and Carlisle County fondly.  Thanks, Hank, for being such a great leader.
Hank with MHT 3
 
4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Well written article, felt like I was part of your experience. Enjoyed reading your stay in Daniel Boone country. Certainly hope you don't see that showertruck again. Looking forward to your next piece . Thank you Chef Julia, your biggest fan.YT

  2. Margie
    Margie says:

    Very nice… It is indeed an honor to do what we do!!
    Didn't even mind sleeping on cots and venturing outside just to..well you know!

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