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What I Love, Vol. 6: Dreamland

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Only in college football are there official restaurants (or bars) for each team.  Tell people you're visiting Tuscaloosa, and you'll hear "Gotta go to Dreamland!"  Columbia, MO?  Shakespeares!  (Or, if you're looking for a bar, Harpo's.)  Stillwater?  Eskimo Joe's.  Clemson?  Mac's.  Gainesville? Satchel's.  Every college town has a place you just have to try; if you haven't been there, you haven't really been to that college town.

It's not exactly like that with any other sport.  Road trips in college basketball are less common and more likely to be in-and-out (taking in the town is a lot more difficult on a Wednesday night).  And in the professional ranks?  Please.  "Oh, you're going to the Cowboys game?  You've got to eat at The Twisted Root!"  People don't say that.  (They should, by the way, but they don't.)

Important note, of course: these probably aren't actually the best places to eat in the given town.  I could immediately list five to ten Columbia bars I enjoy more than Harpo's (though I'm not sure there's pizza better than Shakespeares').  But that's not the point.  It is part of the town's story, and partaking in it is as much ritual as transcendent drinking/dining experience.

When I was growing up, one of my dad's co-workers was an Alabama alum, and every time he went home, he came back with jars of Dreamland.  After a while, he started bringing one back for me.  Now I order the stuff online.  It is a unique* mix of Carolina tang and Memphis sweet.  Love it.  I've never been to Tuscaloosa (Mizzou hasn't played them since 1978, so...), but when I get the chance to go, I'm going straight to Dreamland, even though locals will inevitably tell me that there are six other places that are better.  And that's because it is 'Bama to me.  No other sport has such an odd, wonderful tie to food as college football.

* Not 'unique' like Arthur Bryant's sauce is unique -- I've never figured out how they made a sauce that only tastes good on Bryant's meat.  I love the stuff, but I brought a jar home one time, and it just didn't taste very good on anything else.  Damnedest thing.