Southern folks have many things we are proud of, things that we hold on to fiercely, like our drawl, our y’all, and our food. Our farmers, our architecture, and … our food.
Yeah, I said food twice…by no accident. Adoration of our region’s food is one of the basic tenets of being a Southerner. Our food is set apart, sanctified, if you will, by the sheer blessedness we have of access to coastal shores, delta dirt, and good grass for grazing. This leads to dishes that are unforgettable and uniquely ours, like shrimp and grits, oyster po’ boys, and barbecue. We love to slather Duke’s mayonnaise on two slices of white bread and then lay on some thick slices of homegrown beefsteak tomatoes for the perfect sandwich. We proudly serve banana pudding at wedding receptions, not caring that it is not nearly fancy enough to be there. It’s there because we love it.
That’s the style of the South, in a nutshell. When we are at our best, we’re laid back, and we love the simple things, elevating them to things of beauty. Many of us prefer a front porch swing to penthouse views, and would rather float down the river on an inner tube than onboard a yacht. That’s just who we are.
It’s not because we’re all poor, we’re not. It’s just that when you have sat on a porch in a rocking chair listening to your granddad tell stories about his childhood while you slid your fork through a slice of banana cream pie, special connections are made. When you hunt Easter eggs among the dogwoods and azaleas, it plants inside your heart a love for those things that will never die. When you grow up on your mother’s fried chicken, you spend your life after she’s gone seeking out that flavor, no matter where you eat. And it just tastes closer to it down South.
I know that some Southerners have migrated to the north. Some of y’all live in New York City or Chicago and enjoy the amazing nightlife, the access to restaurants from across the world, and the progressive outlook on life. That’s understandable; I am certain I’d enjoy those things, too. But you know deep down, it’s when you’re back in your home state of Georgia or Texas or Mississippi or Florida that you feel reconnected to who you really are. That’s where you feel home.
So come on back down here before it gets too hot this summer, and get yourself some good greens. Get a big piece of cornbread and dip it in the pot likker. Get a little bit of sweet potato on your fork and twirl a silky strand of turnip green around it, and then take that into your mouth…you remember now, don’t you ? This is home.
Get my banana pudding recipe at this link. It’s good, y’all. So, so good.
Try out this recipe if you’re not into traditional greens:
Rotini with greens and sausage
1 pound of rotini pasta
12 to 16 ounces of bulk (not link) Italian sausage
12 ounces of chopped greens: turnip, collard, or kale, washed, and stems removed if thick
1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1. Boil pasta according to package directions.
2. As pasta cooks, simmer the greens in 2 cups salted water until tender, 8-10 minutes.Drain and set aside.
3. Saute sausage and onion in large skillet over medium heat until sausage is browned and onion is translucent.
4. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the sausage mixture, stirring in and allowing to warm for a minute.
5. Add drained pasta to the pan, followed by the greens. Toss to combine well.
6. Top each serving with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Copyright 2016 Stephanie Hill-Frazier. All rights reserved.