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Table Talk: Gratitude and Hail Marys
If you’re not ready for Thanksgiving and not committed to turkey, you can always feast at New Asia. (Jennifer Biggs/The Daily Memphian)

If you’re not ready for Thanksgiving and not committed to turkey, you can always feast at New Asia. (Jennifer Biggs/The Daily Memphian)

Welcome back to Table Talk, where Daily Memphian food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

By now you have your Thanksgiving meal well in hand and if you don’t, things could be worse because while you might not get your turkey and dressing, you’ll always be able to find a place to get a meal.

An overlooked part of holiday dining is that Thanksgiving is, well, an American holiday. That doesn’t mean all “non-American” restaurants are business as usual, because most people want their traditional meal and most people eat it at home with their families. So the restaurants close and let their employees have their family time, too.


But one restaurant always pulls through. New Asia in Germantown is open on Thanksgiving and Christmas and unless I get a move on after an unexpectedly busy week, we might see you there. This is Wednesday, Nov. 24, I’m supposed to be long done with work and setting the table, but life has a way of doing its own thing.

I know I’ll pull the rabbit out of the hat because that’s what I do; I’ve done it in one way or another untold times. But I promise that Maggi Beef wouldn’t be a bad Thanksgiving meal and if you’re not committed to turkey and still looking for a place to eat, check it or similar places out.

When I evaluate my gratitude — I really do this around Thanksgiving and I hope you do, too — the list will be long. We always think of our family and friends, of course, but go deeper. I’m also thankful for The Daily Memphian, for paying me to bring stories to you almost every day.

This week I stepped a little outside the food writer line when I came across a different story while taking a look at a restaurant in Stanton, Tennessee. I’m always re-energized when I use some different writing muscles, and you can look for more “off-beat” stories (by that I mean off my regular beat) from me in the coming year, because there are more people like Stanton Mayor Allan Sterbinsky out there and I want to tell you about them.


Stanton Mayor Allan Sterbinsky gives a tour of the old Stanton Presbyterian Church, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)


Just like him? I doubt it. Please read this, if you haven’t yet, because it’s a story about a man with a plan and if he succeeds, he’ll change the course of a town and turn poverty into prosperity. He’ll even start an artist colony, which is the most ambitious part of his plan.

But it’s the Stanton Cannery Café that I keep thinking about. As soon as health department approval is granted, the town will start renting out restaurant space for $10 an hour for everything. People who can’t afford to lease space and buy equipment don’t have to; they can rent it for a day or two or a few hours, pay $10 an hour and save the profits to start a business.

This week I also met Bala Tounkara for the first time, though of course I’ve known who he is and have heard good things about him. Others at The Daily Memphian have written about him, but I hadn’t, as Bala reminded me, so I went over for the soft opening of Bala’s Bistro in his new location and you can bet I’ll be back. He’s closed on Thanksgiving, but reopens on Friday and you need to check it out.


Bala's Bistro owner Bala Tounkara makes a buffett plate at his relocated and expanded Whitehaven restaurant. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

Chris Herrington went to another favorite spot that neither of us have visited in a while and came up with a nice $10 Deal at Sabor Caribe in the Edge District, and he also scored a New Eats at Abner’s Famous Chicken in Crosstown.


I gave you a look at what the staffing situation is like in local restaurants as they enter their busy season, and it’s marginally better than it was a few months ago but still not up to speed. Will it ever be? It could be a while. I talked to a couple of people who have left the service industry and say they’re not going back; please exercise patience with your servers and restaurateurs. They are doing the best they can.

And keep Makeda’s in your holiday heart. This family-owned bakery on Airways was the scene of the tragic fatal shooting of Memphis rapper Young Dolph last week and the Hill family needs your support. There’s a link to a GoFundMe in the article if you want to help financially, and the location at 301 Jefferson is open if you want to purchase cookies.

No recipe this week because let’s face it, the meal is either planned or you better look at this list week from last week or head to New Asia et al. If you are unprepared but ambitious, here’s a link to the New York Times Thanksgiving recipes page, and you have my best wishes. Whatever you do, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, friends.

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