• Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Snap Judgments and Snapping Turtles

    It's been a long and wonderful day of work and discovery, including my stumbling on the Southern Foodways Alliance website, reading John T. Edge's fine work and then realizing that one of the sites I most frequently visit (Epicurious.com) has a feature I'd never read. Choptalk.

    It was on Choptalk that I found this piece by Tim Stark on Snapping Turtles. Read it and click on comments to read my quick story about my encounter with a snapping turtle and the life lesson it taught me. I'm thankful for the reminder that Tim Stark's story offered me and for the fact that I survived my turtle encounter with all fingers intact. (photo grabbed from Stark's column shows a snapping turtle.)

    I'm going to tell you this about me and Southern Food: I love it and I have reservations about going South to eat it. I have a typical Yankee's reaction when I hear a Southern accent. I can recount horrible childhood memories steeped in prejudice and injustice. For years, these have helped me justify my dismissal of all things Southern. Like most biases, I am slowly realizing this one is too tidy to be true.

    So, as I think about an upcoming adventure South of the Mason-Dixon line, I now publicly promise to keep an open mind. I may forget. I may revert to the telling stories that recount harms; stories that shut down, rather than open up, discussion.

    You hereby have my permission to remind me of the snapping turtle incident.

    I'll also allow you these little nuggets, if that is insufficient:
    - I have been to business meetings in the South where clients actually pulled together a 'covered dish' lunch on my behalf and put a welcome sign up in the employee parking lot.
    - I have been invited into a total stranger's home "for a good meal if I were ever in the neighborhood" and they meant it.
    - I have had a complete stranger insist on helping me with my luggage up two flights of stairs in the South (ask me how often that's happened here!)
    - I have enjoyed some of the best food ever in New Orleans, found a welcoming jazz club well off the beaten path there, too.

    Sure, I've been run off the road with yelps of "Damn Yankee!" for merely driving in Alabama with Jersey plates...but that's a story for, and of, another day.

    For now I'll focus on the food. Fried chicken. All good pork things, like Allan Benton's Ham and Bacon. Pecan pie. Small batch Bourbons. Fried green tomatoes. Grits. Gumbo. Buttermilk biscuits with Sorghum Molasses. Sweet tea. Hush puppies.

    Aw man, this is making my stomach growl. Good night and good eats!

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    Blogger Michael said...

    Mmm... Small batch bourbon. I can't wait to try Woodford Reserve's Sonoma-Coutrer, "matured in new, charred oak barrels and then 'finished' for approximately four to five months in Sonoma-Cutrer "Les Pierre" barrels.

    For my own experience with Southern Hospitality... My wife (then girlfriend) and I were driving to Florida. Don't ask. We were staying the night in Santee, SC, in a hotel across the street from a Russell Stover outlet store. After breakfast, we decided to check out the store. Approaching the door, we saw a sign stating that they opened at 10:00. Realizing we had 15 minutes to go, we turned to go back. That is, until we hear a voice behind us that says, "If y'all wanna come in, we're just doin' inventory." We almost passed out from shock. In our area (D.C.), employees would generally be sitting inside the door at 9:59 pointing at their watches to demonstrate that the time for opening has not yet arrived. What a difference!

    1:39 PM  
    Blogger JacquelineC said...

    Then there was the tiny, ancient woman who sat next to me on a flight. She was petite, modestly dressed 80 if she was a day...looked more like a retired Avon lady or member of the altar guild. Talked about what a fool she knew she was for marrying again. Told all her friends last time, "you see me walking down the aisle one more time, just grab a bat or anything heavy and knock me out."

    Too bad the serial optimist hadn't met a man like Caleb!

    2:48 PM  
    Blogger JANET said...

    Well now, I'm glad you're willing to come on down South. Next time you want some southern food, head on over to Alabama's Black Belt for farm-raised catfish! Try the the fried catfish and hush puppies on Thursdays at the Faunsdale Cafe. We'll even show you how it's raised, and we WON'T make fun of your New Jersey plates or call you a "___________ Yankee!"
    You are as welcome down here as the sunshine!

    9:44 PM  

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