Friday, November 2, 2012

Deep South Staples

 Or how to survive in a southern kitchen without a can of cream of mushroom soup

By Robert St. John

Oh Sweet Mercy!  Have I chuckled a hearty chuckle while reading this cookbook. 

Growing up north of the Mason-Dixon Line*,  I am often surprised and amazed by colorful Southern sayings. They are an endless fascination for me and I mean no disrespect whatsoever. Truly.

For example, I heard this said the other day while waiting outside of The Sprout's school. 

Tennessee mom said, "Anyone who's ever had their heart blessed knows how true that is...."

Georgia mom nodded knowingly.

BAM! Just like that I was confused. It took me the better part of 15 minutes of silent reflection before enlightenment finally came. 

'Is this a twist on the "Bless your heart" comment?' I thought to myself. 

But by then I had lost the thread of the conversation and couldn't test my hypothesis in context.  I still don't know what "anyone who's ever had their heart blessed" means.  

But enough of the exasperating example. Let's get back to the cookbook.

Published in 2006, the author states that the recipes included were traditional preparations of the Deep South that were handed down from grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They were often written on the backs of old cancelled checks, notepads, garden club programs or church bulletins.

Chapters are organized by occasion: Cocktail Parties, Funeral Food, then Breakfast, Salad and Soup and a grin-inducing essay on Vienna Sausages.  Main Courses follows with an essay entitled, "The Great Possum Predicament."  All chapters are peppered with cooking tips.

As you may well have surmised, it is the cooking tips and essays that had me giggling. 

There is a separate essay on sweet tea!  In it the author explains how the tea gets sweeter as you travel deeper into the South. That rule works for women too, he writes.  

I imagine a few readers may be nodding their heads in agreement.  The following short passage had me laughing out loud:

I hate sun tea. It's a scam. I imagine sun tea drinkers also are dog beaters and jaywalkers. Sun tea is weak. [...passage snipped for brevity...] The same guy who invented the Pet Rock invented the sun tea jar.  He was a dog beater. 

[...snipped again...] Don't beat your dog for fear that someone will call you a sun tea drinker...
This cookbook was a perfect choice for riding out Hurricane-turned-Superstorm Sandy. Cabin fever?  Not me.  I had good food, tatting and this anecdote-rich tome to dispel cooped-up feelings.

Luckily, we never lost power and suffered no wind damage.  We came through unscathed. Plus, my amusement meter reached level 10 at various points throughout the storm.

And a reward for those who read all the way to the bottom:
Funny Southern Sayings - Meaning of Southern Expressions 

I may never completely understand Southern expressions, but the journey is never boring.

* the demarcation line representing a cultural boundary between Northeastern (Yankee) and Southern (Dixie) United States


Ladytats said...

sounds like a fun book.

Kathy Niklewicz said...

I had wondered how you were faring during the storm. Glad to hear you had no problems. We also were spared here in Pittsburgh and are grateful!

Michelle said...

Wonderful post. I imagine I would like this book a lot. Reminds me of the time when I visited KY and in a gas station a young woman asked me , based on my accent I'm sure, if I was a Yankee. I pondered for a few moments if Minnesota was actually a state back then and if that would qualify me as a Yankee. I'm sure she just thought I was a moron.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

I love to read cookbooks, but I almost didn't read the whole post when I saw the words "cream of mushroom soup." I can't tell you how those words send chills up my spine! ;-)

I might have to borrow this one and read it. I do love reading cookbooks. Some day I'm going to finish a cross stitch sampler I have... My collection of cookbooks is greater than my cooking.

I'm glad to read you're doing well after the storm.

** jess! ** said...

Well, I know that "Bless your heart" is not always a good thing. That's one of those phrases you have to decipher the meaning through context.

What is Sun Tea? I don't drink tea myself, but just about everyone in my family does. Livi loves both unsweetened and sweet (and super sweet) tea. :o)

Love the link! Some of my family (that live outside of the Memphis area) have said things on that list. Once you get closer to Memphis, and around where I live, people don't really talk like that.


Jane McLellan said...

Well, I'd be completely baffled by such expressions, but I'm glad that you now only survived the storm but found entertainment during it!

Elizabeth said...

Love the Southern Expressions. I have certainly used a lot of them myself since I was born and raised in Mobile, Al.

tattrldy said...

Glad to hear you made it through Sandy in good shape. How bout the nor'easter? I loved the link to the southern expressions, it is a great laugh. It's amazing how many of those I was familiar with. Thanks for the link.