Today’s classic A&J is the first of a little three-part series that can be viewed by clicking on the date below the cartoon. When I was a boy, there actually were a lot of restaurants in the small city where my family lived. They almost all were cafes and diners or steak-and-potatoes joints. Salad invariably was iceberg lettuce. For the gourmands, there might be spaghetti with meatballs. A true gastronomic adventure was to drive south, over the county line to “the backwater” where you could dine on fried catfish at a “fish camp” and—get ready for it—have a beer! Well, the adults could. The fare in these places was simple but good, and most of it went away with the spread of suburbia. Strip malls replaced the downtowns, and fast-food chains replaced the local eateries. However, the local dining scene has made a comeback in this century, much of it cropping up in the once-forlorn downtowns. The experience is likely to be different, and more expensive, than that of my youth, but it is a good thing.