donna’s #6

In the market for a quintessentially #Mississippi experience? You could spend some serious lettuce and make a reservation at one of our state’s finest hotels–The Alluvian in Greenwood, for example. Or you could hop into your car with $5 and get yourself to one of my favorite places–Donna’s #6 Produce in Florence.

Donnas Number 6 Produce

Donna’s #6 is a large, open-air produce market (I hesitate to call it a produce stand), and the staff there are some of the friendliest Mississippians I have ever met. Wander in and check out all of the locally grown fruits and vegetables. Like sweet potatoes? Mississippi has three different varieties, and Donna’s #6 also sells sweet potato rolls behind the counter. Need something to dunk your biscuits in? Hello, Ribbon Cane Syrup. Donna’s #6 has this, too.

Ribbon cane

Donna’s #6 also has an adjoining gift store where they sell homemade ice cream. And the ice cream is quite good. Good stuff.

florence and the (peanut) king

The little that I know of Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) I like. Like me, she’s a redhead. Outspoken. Perhaps like me, she favors drama, wit, passion.

Source: hyena269 via Flickr

The same could be said of the Peanut King of Florence, #Mississippi. I have no idea what his name is, but he haunts Route 49 with his pickup truck and makeshift stand every weekend, selling sweet potatoes, jars of honey, and boiled peanuts in two flavors: regular and Cajun.The very little I know of the King, let’s call him PK for short, I like a great deal. He has a broad smile, affable demeanor. And like Florence Welch, he’s got a flair for dramatic storytelling.

I pulled my car, let’s call her Weezy, to the side of 49. I had lived in Mississippi 16 months but had not yet eaten boiled peanuts off the back of a guy’s pickup truck, as my friend Maura Neill insisted I do.

“Haven’t I seen you before?” he inquired, sizing me up.

“No, but I’ve driven by,” I insisted.

“You don’t sound like you’re from here. [I get this a lot.] Where are you from?”

“Chicago!” I exclaimed.

[pause]

“I’m SORRY! Chicago sucks 10 different ways. Ten!”

Chortling, that was me.

He proceeded to inform of Chicago’s high homicide rate and explain how much he hated driving through Chicago when he was a trucker. I love Chicago, but I get it. Big cities are not for everyone. In fairness, I could say the same of small town, Mississippi, anywhere.

We quickly found neutral ground when he learned that I didn’t know how to eat a boiled peanut. He instructed me how to suck the juice out and eat the peanut. I asked him if I could take a photo of his truck and he grinned so brightly, even arranging his signage so that my friends knew I’d visited the King.

“See ya next time. Visit me again!” He shouted.

Will do, PK. Will do.