Bill Heavey: Fried Alabama

I've just returned from a hunting trip to Alabama, which has greatly reduced my life expectancy, mostly because of what I ate. At home, I stick to a balanced diet of pizza, cheeseburgers, beer, Doritos, chocolate bars, and one dessert a day: a single serving of ice cream consisting of however much is left in the carton.

Alabama hunters consider this a vegan diet. We rolled out of our bags each morning and immediately nuked two or three Jimmy Dean sausage-egg-cheese-and-more-sausage biscuits apiece. We washed this down with Dr. Thunder, an off-brand carbonated beverage that lives up to its name. As sitting in a shooting house burns untold calories, we loaded our pockets with more Dr. Thunder and peanut butter crackers before heading out.

Lunch began with grilled homemade sausages (plain, jalapeno, or jalapeno-and-cheese) made by Jimmy, who excels at fixing trucks, reloading bullets, and cooking. We ate these hot and dripping fat with our fingers while he deep-fried bass filets, deer medallions, and breaded chicken bits. Halfway through the meal, which we ate standing around a fire in a 55-gallon drum, someone produced a loaf of white bread. The slices served as plates for food too hot to touch, as napkins when you tired of wiping your hands on your pants leg, and had the added benefit that you could eat them.

Dinner was at a restaurant that served fried dill pickle slices as an appetizer. Most of us went for the 17-oz. ribeye with hush puppies and, for the vegetable, french fries. We washed this down with beer. Then, because it is impossible to eat while you are asleep, we had slivers of cheesecake with a molecular density similar to that of uranium to tide us over until dawn.

The guys invited me to come back next year for the annual barbecue on the last weekend of the season. "We get serious about it then," one said. "Damn near stop your heart up like a rusty watch."

If I'm alive, I'll be there.