During my lunch break today, I went to an office down the hall and picked up the January 2009 copy of Southern Living. The last page in there had this article.
My brother has been inspiring me with his writings on Florida - so I thought I would tap into Southern Cuisine.
I grew up on smoked mullet, black eyed peas, cornbread, chicken and rice, mustard greens, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, corn beef hash and rice, liver and onions, sweet tea, banana pudding, hummingbird cake, strawberry pizzas, chicken casserole, goulash, fried catfish straight from the Suwannee River - all these things are still tasty to me! They remind me of home.
Southern cuisine does that. It reminds you of simpler times, home, front porches, the river (and by this I mean the Suwannee), summers on a farm playing with doodle bugs, swimming with cousins, playing softball in the field, "enter your favorite southern past time here". I love being from the South. It is the greatest thing!
So, here are some thoughts from the article by Marti Buckley Kilpatrick subtitled "One world traveler finds her Southern roots in a bowl of greens."
1. "If you want to get a Southerner impassioned, ask him or her about the correct way to cook collard greens." SO TRUE! Anyone can tell you their family recipe for many of the above dishes. And if you differ - you are wrong. Just true - same with gumbo, clam chowder Cincinnati chili, or any other "northern foods".
2. "If collards couldn't be incorporated into my global worldview, then did I really have hope as a Southerner?" I love to travel and have been all over the world. I love to try new cuisines and taste other cultures' food. But, if people ask me what I would live on the rest of my life - if I could only have one food - Southern. That's it. Well-cooked Southern. Now, it isn't healthy - but I could learn moderation and pick up the exercise!
3. I love her last paragraph - so here it is: "After a couple hours of simmering (collards), I settled onto the sofa with a bowl of slow-cooked collards. I realized that everything I love about the South was contained in this steaming mess o' greens - the simplicity, the straightforwardness of the flavor, the comfort and warmth that flooded my mouth and throat after every spoonful. I may go far and wife, fall in love with faraway cuisines, people, and places, but it's a relief to know that all it will take to remind me of my roots is a simple stewed vegetable." And that is why I still love to make Southern foods.
Thanks to my Papa, Granny, Mom, Dad, Alan, Martha, Aunt Gladys, Lindsay, and many others over the years who have taught me about southern cuisine. I live currently in Louisville, KY - it is NOT the SOUTH. That is why I have to get home every now and then to go back to my roots. I'll never forget. I pray one day that God allows me to live in the South again. But, if not, at least I know how to cook Southern.