February 23, 2011

Something New On The Menu

Having grown up in and around families with southern roots, I know first-hand that this is some good eating...when done right.  Neighborhood eateries reflected the tastes of their customers serving up hearty helpings of fried fish, baked chicken, ribs, sweet potato pie and, chitterlings, chitlin's, however, you pronounce it.

Every family can boast of someone (or many) who put their foot into some dish.  My aunt, Ginny, made the best ever corn pudding.  Side dish or dessert?  She taught us the secret of frying liver so that it was delicious and not an awful, rubbery, dish with a horrible taste.  She's gone to glory and I never got that corn pudding recipe.  All of her meals were great--the cakes were divine--but the corn pudding, for me, was her signature dish.

Aunt Sister just cooked. There was always a simmering pot of something on the stove whenever you visited.  Even if it was just chicken and rice...for the dog!  She favored spicy foods; bunches of red peppers were always hanging somewhere.  I, once, tried seasoning my collards with red pepper as she did and wound up with an inedible nightmare.  But I did learn her habit of putting green peppers and onions in with the cabbage.  Delicious.  She, too, is gone and her recipes with her. My mother didn't like to cook.  No sugar-coating here.  But her homemade white potato rolls were the bomb.  And you know the ending, right?  Didn't get the recipe for those, either.

So it was expected that when I moved to the mid-South that the eating would be good. And there have been few disappointments; even the gas stations get fish done right. The local grocery chain, E.W.James, serves breakfast and lunch. (I'm not trying to start a county war but the cooks in B'ville win hands down over the cooks in the Ripley store.)  Mr. James left some mighty big shoes to fill in the fish arena when he returned to  N'awlins but he did give me his recipe, so I guess it will be okay. I've listed several dishes which have been hits with me--among them cornbread salad--so you can imagine my surprise when I took it to the NAACP's potluck, on Saturday, and no one had heard of it.  Neither had I until I got here. (Thank you, Denise, it was a success.) You mean that it is not a local dish?

But back to specific dishes...brussel sprouts have been an abomination as far as I can remember.  My brother and I drowned them in ketchup and, even then, they were awful.  During a trip to NJ, to meet cousins whom I'd never met, I was told to cook them with ham hocks.  "Yeah, right."  Well, boys and girls, sprouts were the only thing on the hot table when I ventured into E.W.James for lunch yesterday.  OMG!  There was nothing else green to choose from.  Suck it up, Missy, and try a little...a very little.  Let me tell you, I could've eaten the whole pan. Must have used that pig to season them.  I've been avoiding these for how long????  It is obvious that my folks didn't know how to cook them.

So something new has been added to list of things to eat.  And I'm adding something new on the menu for you, as well.  Whet your appetite and stay tuned.

Be safe.  Be Blessed.

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