You've seen this acronym before, right? G.R.I.T.S. Girls Raised In The South. That's me. Although I was born in Georgia but raised in Florida, I still consider myself a southern girl. Actually, after having done a bit of math, I realize even though I did grow up in Florida, I have lived in Georgia for most of my life. (10 years in FL vs. 24 years in GA- if you count the my first 8 years of life here and then my living here from college on.) So, anyway, Imma Southern girl and proud of it.
However... when it comes to cooking southern, I'm not sure I measure up. If I were asked to make a good, ole' fashioned, southern meal for a first time visitor from the north, I'm not sure I'd know what to make. For some reason, the first thing that comes to mind is fried chicken. I don't know why that's the first thing that I think of seeing as how fried chicken is not a recipe in my repertoire. I have only ever attempted fried chicken once before, in college. It was a disaster. Either the chicken was not cooked all the way through or the outside, while crispy, was a nice, dark shade of tree bark (that's a fancy way of sayin' I burned it). On top of that, not only the kitchen, but the whole house stunk of burnt chicken skin and oil. I'm not sure what I ended up doing for dinner that night. I'm pretty sure I didn't eat chicken.
I might make something like fried okra or some grits. I'm pretty sure those are southern type dishes. Maybe something with sweet potatoes. I don't make or like collard or turnip greens. My hus does though. If he's lucky enough to get them at home, they come out of a can. I just don't know.
My grandmother on my father's side would know. She was a southern lady through and through. She did leave behind an extensive recipe collection that my uncle was nice enough to put on CD for everyone. I could consult that I guess. If I wasn't afraid of gaining a minimum of 5 pounds per meal, it might be fun to eat my way through her collection. I do know enough about her cooking to know that "healthy" was most likely not included in any of the hundreds of recipes she had. She was known to keep an actual tub of lard on hand to cook with. She also cooked like we were a family of 25. Truth is, there were only 7 of us including my grandmother (whom we called Honey) and grandfather (whom we called Grandaddy). There is one of her meals that I do cook on occasion. It's this spaghetti dish affectionately called, "Honey's Spaghetti." I'm sure she dipped into her tub of lard for this one but I just use bacon grease. Yes, it has bacon, bacon grease, at least a pound of cheese, onion, peppers, and of course spaghetti noodles and a homemade sauce. It's pretty delicious. It makes enough for a small army. Maybe I would make that.
As I think about it though, the thought crosses my mind that maybe I cook more southern style dishes than I know. After all, I have lived in the south all my life. I don't know anything else. I've never spent any real time up north. I've actually only been in the north twice in my life. NYC both times. I've been to VA a few times though I think it is funny that they consider themselves part of the south. I did make it to the gateway to the west a couple of times (St. Louis for those of you not in the know). Could it be that since I've lived in the south so long and have so little experience outside of the south, that I am more of a southern cook than I realize? I didn't know that words like "fixin' to" and "usetacould" were terms only used in the south until I heard Jeff Foxworthy's, You Might Be a Redneck... *Disclaimer* I do draw the line at being referred to as a "redneck." I'm not a redneck, nor am I country. There is a difference between these things and Southern. I am southern. A lady. *snicker, snicker* My husband is probably laughing right about now.
I did make biscuits this morning. Do people up north eat biscuits? Surely they do. We put butter and jelly and sometimes honey on them. Is that how they eat them? It doesn't really matter. I am proud of my heritage. My husband is from the south. (worse than me, he was raised in Alabama!) Our kids are being raised in the south. We eat what tastes good. That may include mayonnaise, honey, fried things and yes, occasionally some good, ole' lard. Yummm... I guess you could say that because I am a southerner, I cook southern foods. Does it stand to reason that one effects the other?