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The impending disappearance of Southern Food


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(Of course, there is the turkey baster but that's completely off topic).

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Cucina - There's something that doesn't ring true in your message. If the men in your family are so accomplished - how come your Dad is calling and asking you how to cook a baked potato? My husband isn't a real whiz in the kitchen (although he is great at chopping - he does most of the mis en place) - but even he knows how to cook a baked potato. My father and father-in-law are even worse than my husband - and even they know how to cook baked potatoes! Sounds like lip gloss to me.

And I'm not angry. I'm just telling it like it is. I live in Florida - which is the most important state in the southeast these days (because it's by far the biggest). And like most people here - I wasn't born here. But - after living here for 35 years - I think I have a right to speak as much as anyone. Robyn

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Cucina - There's something that doesn't ring true in your message.  If the men in your family are so accomplished - how come your Dad is calling and asking you how to cook a baked potato?  My husband isn't a real whiz in the kitchen (although he is great at chopping - he does most of the mis en place) - but even he knows how to cook a baked potato.  My father and father-in-law are even worse than my husband - and even they know how to cook baked potatoes!  Sounds like lip gloss to me.

And I'm not angry.  I'm just telling it like it is.  I live in Florida - which is the most important state in the southeast these days (because it's by far the biggest).  And like most people here - I wasn't born here.  But - after living here for 35 years - I think I have a right to speak as much as anyone.  Robyn

Robyn - my Dad is 69 years old so I make exceptions for him. Other than the barbeque grill (where he excels and we enjoy often) he didn't know how to do a thing in the kitchen until my mother taught him. But unlike most other men in his generation, he was willing to learn. He can cook a full breakfast with grits, eggs and sausage (Durmas Family, Booth Alabama - highly recommend it - his discovery - they were making it when he was a little boy and his dad was stationed in Alabama and they still make it now), he can make his own lunch and he can forge around in the fridge and figure out how to put a dinner together if my mother is out - and he's not to shy to ask how to do something if he doesn't know how. This is HUGE!!! My brother and most of my cousins in their 30's and 40's on the other hand, have a very impressive repertoire - particularly with fish and game.

Ironically, I was born in Miami and have a lot of roots in Florida (on my father's side of all things but there are also strong ties to Mississippi) but consider myself more of a Georgian because of the family ties on my mothers side and the fact that I lived there a number of years myself. One of the best southern cookbooks that is still in reprint is one of the Florida Junior League's called the Gasparilla Cookbook. My mother's copy is so tattered, she finally and very reluctantly asked for a replacement a few years ago. Ed Dunlap's Brunswick Stew is particularly good. This cookbook in my opinion is the definitive contribution of Florida to southern cusine.

Anyway, whether you are angry or not, your post came across as very angry and I wanted to set the record straight. I don't think outdated expectations of men on women or the fact that women have entered the workforce out of either necessity or desire have anything to do with why people cook less or whether southern cooking is dying. We lose traditions because people don't take the time to teach them. People have to prioritize what's important. In my family, one of the best traditions has always been lively conversation at the dinner table over a good meal - so it's one I try hard to continue.

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I don't think outdated expectations of men on women or the fact that women have entered the workforce out of either necessity or desire have anything to do with why people cook less or whether southern cooking is dying.  We lose traditions because people don't take the time to teach them.  People have to prioritize what's important.

Cucina, you are my new eGG (eGullet Goddess), but I beg to differ with some of this assessment. While it's obviously true that one of the reasons we lose traditions is because people don't take the time to teach them, it is, I think MORE true, that most traditions, for good and ill, have been passed down by folks that were not even aware that's what they were doing. They were just chugging along, living life, and teaching lessons in the process.

For example, no one ever said to me, "Jaymsie Mae, stop tumping over your brother's toy soldiers and get on in here because it's time to teach you to fry up a mess o' catfish."

Now partly, nobody ever said that to me because that's not my name. But mostly, nobody ever said that to me because nobody ever thought to make a big formal deal about teaching me to do it. My dad was just in there frying up catfish, and I was hanging around asking if I could "hep."

And I do think that consumerism was foisted upon us, in large part, as another has said, by television, and its incessant urgency to create "need." It's what they teach in marketing class. Create a need, and then fill it.

But while you're out there in the rat race trying to get what you've decided you "need" (whether you really do or not), something is going to be left behind.

And I think that it's the slow and easy time around the house, frying up catfish. Much quicker to nuke some fishsticks. Or better, to eat out and pay the restaurant $100 or so for a family of four a couple of times a week, and then talk about how hard it is to "make ends meet."

And, despite what Robyn has imagined I meant, this isn't just about the "little woman" sitting around in her apron while big, important Daddy earns the paycheck and then begrudgingly doles out portions of it.

The fact of the matter is that if Daddy comes dragging home exhausted at 10pm every night, and has to go back to the office on Saturdays, he ain't gonna be frying up much catfish either.

So things change.

Like those boys from Alabama say:

"Song, song of the south

Sweet potato pie and shut my mouth

Gone, gone with the wind

There ain't nobody looking back again"

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes -

I'm too new to the forum to have figured out how to quote the relevant sections of your remarks but I'm not differing from you. And gosh! What a compliment to be your new EGG! This might even be better than Julia Reids desire to be Queen of the Turtle Derby! :wink: (Read the book - it's great and it's a great story about the importance of southern cooking as well).

When I say that these traditions are taught, what I mean is that there is something that is done to inspire curiosity - intentional or not. Some of it is basic - like helping children develop a wide palate: See my new thread on the ethics of lying to children about the food they are eating. Mostly, it's not shooing children out of the way when they have an interest which seems like your experience.

I'm proud to say that before my grandmother died, she made sure that everyone knew that I was the only one who could make Pimento Cheese as good as she did. I'm also proud to have finally - after years of disappointment on my mother and aunts part - determined the secret ingredient to our family's corn bread dressing. This came from hours of sitting with her and discussing recipies - over and over again - until she finally gave up (or remembered) that one special ingredient.

In this society, we may not be able to cook they way we would like to as often as we want, but if we strive to inspire curiosity, the art won't be lost.

Catfish is another subject. Remind me to tell you why it's never really caught on in parts of coastal Georgia. it's worthy of another thread. :blink:

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I'm also proud to have finally - after years of disappointment on my mother and aunts part - determined the secret ingredient to our family's corn bread dressing.  This came from hours of sitting with her and discussing recipies - over and over again - until she finally gave up (or remembered) that one special ingredient.

Yeah, like there's a chance in hell we're gonna let you get away with this.

What is it, girl? Fess up, y'hear?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm also proud to have finally - after years of disappointment on my mother and aunts part - determined the secret ingredient to our family's corn bread dressing.  This came from hours of sitting with her and discussing recipies - over and over again - until she finally gave up (or remembered) that one special ingredient.

Yeah, like there's a chance in hell we're gonna let you get away with this.

What is it, girl? Fess up, y'hear?

It's totally anti climactic.....not a spice....not a vegetable....just a very boring thing that actually traces back at least as far as my great grandmother and I don't know how far back beyond that.....

And the answer is........drum roll please!!!!!!!!!

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Cool. I can totally see that. Do you use it in place of the white bread cumbs? Or in addition to?

Oh, and thanks, EGG. :rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Cool.  I can totally see that.  Do you use it in place of the white bread cumbs?  Or in addition to?

Oh, and thanks, EGG.  :rolleyes:

What white bread crumbs? :shock: You bake cornbread either in a cast iron skillet or in a long pyrex dish so it's crispy - no sugar in it and very little leavening. You crumple that all up, add milk, finely chopped onions and celery (that you've briefly heated up in a little butter), salt and pepper and a bit of thyme, turkey gravy, and then bake it up again. Only use white corn meal flour and it's best if you can find a little coarse ground to mix in with it. That's when it tastes like "Mamoo's" -!!! :biggrin: It's simple - but it's tasty - and I've never had better. :wink:

oh yes....and DON'T forget the saltine crackers or it's worthless!!!

Edited by Cucina (log)
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Cool.  I can totally see that.  Do you use it in place of the white bread cumbs?  Or in addition to?

Oh, and thanks, EGG.  :rolleyes:

What white bread crumbs? :shock: You bake cornbread either in a cast iron skillet or in a long pyrex dish so it's crispy - no sugar in it and very little leavening. You crumple that all up, add milk, finely chopped onions and celery (that you've briefly heated up in a little butter), salt and pepper and a bit of thyme, turkey gravy, and then bake it up again. Only use white corn meal flour and it's best if you can find a little coarse ground to mix in with it. That's when it tastes like "Mamoo's" -!!! :biggrin: It's simple - but it's tasty - and I've never had better. :wink:

oh yes....and DON'T forget the saltine crackers or it's worthless!!!

So, you're using saltine crackers instead of white bread crumbs. About how many saltine crumbs per, say, 3 cups of cornbread crumbs?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Cool.  I can totally see that.  Do you use it in place of the white bread cumbs?  Or in addition to?

Oh, and thanks, EGG.  :rolleyes:

What white bread crumbs? :shock: You bake cornbread either in a cast iron skillet or in a long pyrex dish so it's crispy - no sugar in it and very little leavening. You crumple that all up, add milk, finely chopped onions and celery (that you've briefly heated up in a little butter), salt and pepper and a bit of thyme, turkey gravy, and then bake it up again. Only use white corn meal flour and it's best if you can find a little coarse ground to mix in with it. That's when it tastes like "Mamoo's" -!!! :biggrin: It's simple - but it's tasty - and I've never had better. :wink:

oh yes....and DON'T forget the saltine crackers or it's worthless!!!

So, you're using saltine crackers instead of white bread crumbs. About how many saltine crumbs per, say, 3 cups of cornbread crumbs?

I didn't even know there was such a thing as white bread crumbs until now. This is very distressing. I'm having visions of wonder bread! :shock: I suppose it's somewhere between a third and a half a pack - it's really a visual, feel and taste thing - I know what it' supposed to look like, feel like and taste like and so it's more or less what meets that test. (Know that doesn't help but god save you if I ever share Reba's biscuit recipie with you!)

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Robyn - my Dad is 69 years old so I make exceptions for him...

My husband is 60 - no exceptions for him. Our fathers are in their mid-80's - and frail - so we make exceptions (lots of them).

I don't think there's any particular orthodoxy about the lack of sugar in cornbread (except perhaps in the minds of some people). Bill Neal's Southern Cooking has recipes for buttermilk corn bread and spoon bread (another form of cornbread) that both call for sugar (although his dog bread - the most simple form of cornbread - does not). Times change - people change - and recipes change. The best cornbread I've eaten in years comes from the mix sold at Williams Sonoma.

Cast iron skillets don't work well in coastal Florida. Unless they've been seasoned to the point where they can do double-duty as ant traps - they rust. People in Florida 75 years ago were used to sharing their most intimate spaces with most of the insect world. No reason to do that now - and no reason you can't use more suitable cookware as long as the result is satisfactory.

As for bread in general - many parts of the south could be up for contention as the "White Bread Capital" of the world. What passes for bread where my husband's family in north Carolina lives is something I consider suitable only for mushing into little balls and putting on the end of a fishing hook. It is not a highlight of the cuisine.

I really don't think that the issue being discussed here is peculiar to the south - or to the United States for that matter. The world has changed - and people's eating and cooking habits have changed. I'm not ready to go from good food to microwave pizza - but a lot of people are as long as they're not presented with reasonable alternatives in the middle which can accommodate their busy lifestyles. Robyn

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Robyn - my Dad is 69 years old so I make exceptions for him...

My husband is 60 - no exceptions for him. Our fathers are in their mid-80's - and frail - so we make exceptions (lots of them).

I don't think there's any particular orthodoxy about the lack of sugar in cornbread (except perhaps in the minds of some people). Bill Neal's Southern Cooking has recipes for buttermilk corn bread and spoon bread (another form of cornbread) that both call for sugar (although his dog bread - the most simple form of cornbread - does not). Times change - people change - and recipes change. The best cornbread I've eaten in years comes from the mix sold at Williams Sonoma.

Cast iron skillets don't work well in coastal Florida. Unless they've been seasoned to the point where they can do double-duty as ant traps - they rust. People in Florida 75 years ago were used to sharing their most intimate spaces with most of the insect world. No reason to do that now - and no reason you can't use more suitable cookware as long as the result is satisfactory.

As for bread in general - many parts of the south could be up for contention as the "White Bread Capital" of the world. What passes for bread where my husband's family in north Carolina lives is something I consider suitable only for mushing into little balls and putting on the end of a fishing hook. It is not a highlight of the cuisine.

I really don't think that the issue being discussed here is peculiar to the south - or to the United States for that matter. The world has changed - and people's eating and cooking habits have changed. I'm not ready to go from good food to microwave pizza - but a lot of people are as long as they're not presented with reasonable alternatives in the middle which can accommodate their busy lifestyles. Robyn

Ah - what a difference almost 10 years makes! I just don't like sugar in cornbread and don't understand why restaurants inevitably only serve the sweet kind. They should have both. Can't speak for the Williams Sonoma cornbread but the recipie on the back of White Lily white cornmeail mix is fool proof. I guess I'm spoiled or sheltered - honestly - I never knew that anyone would even consider using white bread in stuffing. The best non white bread in the universe (above wonderbread on the foodchain but well below artisan bread because it's mass produced and has the commercial loaf shape is a bread I've only ever found in supermarkets in South Georgia called Captain John Durst's. It's yellow. And it's amazing for pimento cheese, grilled cheese,and turns toast into an art form. The fact that it still exists in its small niche is proof in my book that southern foods will be around a while. Although I must admit, we all mourned the loss of the "pickin'" plant in Brunswick, GA that would process crabmeat. You can no longer buy fresh down there unless it's imported from Charleston or somewhere else. And one of the restaurants on St. Simons - Barbara Jean's - known for its crab cakes flies theirs in from overseas. That's a more ominous sign than just about anything.

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Catfish is another subject.  Remind me to tell you why it's never really caught on in parts of coastal Georgia.  it's worthy of another thread. :blink:

The catfish thread .... :rolleyes:

Catfish is a good example of changing times and changing tastes. Many years ago - when you wanted catfish in south Florida - they were usually wild from Lake Okeechobee. One taste of these things - and you knew there was a good reason why catfish aren't kosher :wink:. Although farm raised catfish are still pretty near the bottom of the fish lover's totem pole in my opinion - they are a distinct improvement over the original. Robyn

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One taste of these things - and you knew there was a good reason why catfish aren't kosher :wink:

I know why but it isn't about the taste ... rather, it is because they are scavengers, bottom feeders .. which, I assume is reflected in the taste of their meat :hmmm: ... Thanks, Robyn, for this! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Whoa!!!

When I spoke of "self-sufficiency" in my post of yesterday afternoon, (I signed off early last evening because I am fixing things for the eG potluck tomorrow),

I was not referring to women being independent or not.

God knows I have been independent almost all my life, through marriages (3) and never relied on my husbands for my livelihood either during or after the marriage. I essentially worked multiple jobs because I wanted to, not because I had to.

The Southern Tradition of Self-Sufficiency of which I wrote, was the way many southerners still maintain gardens, keep domestic animals for food and do not have to run to the market for convenience foods every time they have to put a meal together.

My cousins, aunts, uncles and sundry other relatives and others, still living on the home farm in Kentucky, are pretty much still self-sufficient. The farm is now a corporation as they market many specialty items to restaurants and hotels in the midwest. But the day to day feeding of folks who live on the farm is not dependent on running to the market.

They still have an operational grist mill, now used only for family and friends, but that's how they get their cornmeal (and occasionally send me a care package).

They grow a lot of fruits and vegetables for home use, still cook sorghum for molasses and of course there are the livestock.

This tradition has hung on in the south longer than in other areas of the country. I know farmers here in California who have thousands of acres under cultivation but make a trip to the market to buy vegetables for their table. I designed and set up a potager for friends who have such a farm near Oxnard, now complete with an extensive herb garden. They never thought of doing it themselves (except for tomatoes and squash) but now love the idea of being able to step out of the back door and pick lettuce, cabbage, Brussells sprouts, dig up their own turnips, carrots, etc.

Both were raised on farms so it seemed odd to me that they could market fruit (mostly strawberries, some tomatoes) but not raise other crops for their own consumption. When the garden was finished they bought 30 chickens for eggs as well as for meat and learned the benefits of chicken manure in a small garden.

Last February they bought a cow, then three goats. They have yet to try raising a pig, but I keep pushing.

Farmers in Iowa, in Minnesota, Nebraska and New Mexico are the same. They simply don't see the point in raising their own food, although a generation ago their parents did.

And much of it is because of the barrage of advertising on TV. This generation grew up thinking that if it was mass produced it was somehow better, vitamins added, etc.

What they didn't think of is that the only reason vitamins are added is because they are lost in the processing of these foods.

When I was traveling a lot when showing dogs, I occasionally made it to a circuit in the south. It was like an invisible barrier had been crossed when I would be invited to dinner at the homes of people I met.

The women, many very independent, prided themselves on their "light" rolls, their biscuits or their fried chicken. Impromptu picnics at dogs shows brought out home made foods, not stuff from a deli. Much different from here in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon or Washington, my usual show areas.

That is the self-sufficieny which I referred to, i.e., cooking without the aid of frozen entrees, instant this or that or pre-sliced, pre-formed and pre-made sandwiches.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I didn't even know there was such a thing as white bread crumbs until now.  This is very distressing.  I'm having visions of wonder bread!  :shock: I suppose it's somewhere between a third and a half a pack - it's really a visual, feel and taste thing - I know what it' supposed to look like, feel like and taste like and so it's more or less what meets that test. 

Well, every decent recipe for cornbread dressing I've ever seen has some type of white bread crumbs in it. You need it because just as you said, without it, it's "worthless." Cornbread crumbs by themselves are just too coarse and heavy and, well, cornbready. I use 1 cup of white bread crumbs to 3 cups of cornbread crumbs. I used to set out some sort of coarse white bread, like a good French or Italian bread, wait until it got stale and use that. Now I (like all these other "busy people" we're discussing in this thread), use the Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix for my 1 cup of white bread. Over in the "dressing vs stuffing" thread, fifi, another good ol' southern gal, uses crumbs from her special white biscuits. You, cucina, are using approximately the same proportion of saltine crumbs. Like the teenagers say, "It's all good."

And back to the topic....I think that anytime you discuss the whys and howtofores of change, there well may be disagreement. Everyone may agree that there has indeed been change, but probably not upon the reasons why, nor whether the change has been a good thing. Like most things, though, there's usually some good and some bad, but there's always a price to pay. Is the price worth it? That's an individual decision, but I agree with those that think something dear is being lost, and I'm not at all certain that it is worth the cost.

Also, I think that what we refer to as "southern cooking," and hospitality, and all the rest of it is a bit different from other regions, just as andiesenji points out, because the south was so rural. And poor. And the growing season is so long. It's natural that we were still growing stuff, and picking it, and serving up "meat and three" far into the autumn months, when all our Yankee cousins were already bedded down for a long winter. Our gardens and produce really were the wealth of the south. Our traditions, that stem from poor families that really were struggling "to make ends meet" and had little else to offer each other besides food and hospitality, were our treasure. We're losing them.

Of course, I am currently living in Missouri, which isn't nearly so important as Florida, but I think I've got a right to speak as well.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I didn't even know there was such a thing as white bread crumbs until now.  This is very distressing.  I'm having visions of wonder bread!   :shock: I suppose it's somewhere between a third and a half a pack - it's really a visual, feel and taste thing - I know what it' supposed to look like, feel like and taste like and so it's more or less what meets that test. 

Well, every decent recipe for cornbread dressing I've ever seen has some type of white bread crumbs in it. You need it because as you've said, without it, it's "worthless." Cornbread crumbs by themselves are just too coarse and heavy and, well, cornbready. I use 1 cup of white bread crumbs to 3 cups of cornbread crumbs. I used to set out some sort of coarse white bread, like a good French or Italian bread, wait until it got stale and use that. Now I (like all these other "busy people" we're discussing in this thread), use the Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix. Over in the "dressing vs stuffing" thread, fifi, another good ol' southern gal, uses crumbs from her special white biscuits. You, cucina, are using approximately the same proportion of saltine crumbs. Like the teenagers say, "It's all good."

And back to the topic....I think that anytime you begin to discuss the whys and howtofores of change, there well may be disagreement. Everyone may agree that there has indeed been change, but probably not upon the reasons why, and whether or not the change has been a good thing. Like most things, though, there's usually some good and some bad, but there's always a price to pay. Is the price worth it? That's an individual decision, but I agree with those that think something dear is being lost, and I'm not at all certain that it is worth the cost.

Also, I think that what we refer to as "southern cooking," and hospitality, and all the rest of it is a bit different from other regions, just as andiesenji points out, because the south was so rural. And poor. And the growing season is so long. It's natural that we were still growing stuff, and picking it, and serving up "meat and three" far into the autumn months, when all our Yankee cousins were already bedded down for a long winter. Our gardens and produce really were the wealth of the south. Our traditions, that stem from poor families that really were struggling "to make ends meet" and had little else to offer each other besides food and hospitality, were our treasure. We're losing them.

Of course, I'm currently living in Missouri, which isn't nearly so important as Florida, but I think I've got a right to speak as well.

Ok, let me jump back into this fracas that I created.

First of all for really good cornbread, pour your cornbread batter into a very hot cast iron skillet that has about 4 ounces of shimmering duck or pork fat in it. And it is not sacriligious to put a little sugar into the batter...

Hand made food is disappearing from every corner of our country (indeed the world) but here in the South we take more pride in our food stuffs than in any other part of the country. Witness the SFA. Is there a similar fraternity dedicated to preserving the potato culture of Idaho? Doubtful. I am a member of the SFA but keep in mind that the SFA is preaching to the choir, what member of SFA is NOT dedicated to preserving Southern food heritage? It is my position that the folks that need the SFA the most (working class) have little to no interest in making anything by hand because it is too damn easy to get a fried pork biscuit at Hardee's!

Hand made food is quickly becoming the hobby of the wealthy. Who else has so much time on their hands that they can actually cook something from scratch?

I have often asked my cooking class students to complete this statement: All great cuisines have their beginnings in_____

Anyone want to take a stab at my answer?

I'll give you a hint...Pate'.

John Malik

Chef/Owner

33 Liberty Restaurant

Greenville, SC

www.33liberty.com

Customer at the carving station: "Pardon me but is that roast beef rare?"

Apprentice Cook Malik: "No sir! There's plenty more in the kitchen!"

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Hunger? :unsure:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  I have often asked my cooking class students to complete this statement: All great cuisines have their beginnings in_____

Anyone want to take a stab at my answer?

I'll give you a hint...Pate'.

Beginnings in using items of necessity? Creating from what is available and easy to find?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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One taste of these things - and you knew there was a good reason why catfish aren't kosher :wink:

I know why but it isn't about the taste ... rather, it is because they are scavengers, bottom feeders .. which, I assume is reflected in the taste of their meat :hmmm: ... Thanks, Robyn, for this! :biggrin:

Okay - here's my catfish story and how it relates to dying traditions. Catfish is not eaten by most natives in certain parts of South Georgia (namely Camden, Glynn and Wayne Counties) because sometime around the turn of the 20th century, a ferry that was shuttling passengers across one of the tributaries (can't remember if it was near St. Marys or along the Altamaha rivers) capsized and everyone aboard drowned. When the bodies finally started floating up to the surface, when they were fished out they had catfish all over them. :shock: My great grandmother never served catfish and none of her 8 children did either and none of the subsequent generations will either eat it or serve it. Now you can certainly FIND it in some restaurants down there, but typically only the tourists are eating it or transplants.

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Whoa!!!

When I spoke of "self-sufficiency" in my post of yesterday afternoon, (I signed off early last evening because I am fixing things for the eG potluck tomorrow),

I was not referring to women being independent or not.

God knows I have been independent almost all my life, through marriages (3) and never relied on my husbands for my livelihood either during or after the marriage.  I essentially worked multiple jobs because I wanted to, not because I had to. 

The Southern Tradition of Self-Sufficiency of which I wrote, was the way many southerners still maintain gardens, keep domestic animals for food and do not have to run to the market for convenience foods every time they have to put a meal together.

My cousins, aunts, uncles and sundry other relatives and others, still living on the home farm in Kentucky, are pretty much still self-sufficient... 

I think you are equating rural with southern - and rural in the south is associated with poverty. It took a lot to drag big parts of the south into the 20th century (including mammoth projects like the TVA) - but - by the beginning of the 21st century - the south was a lot less rural than it used to be. Good thing too. I never found most southern rural areas to be remotely attractive (in large part because they're very poor). Like the new joke I just heard today - what do a hurricane and a southern divorce have in common - in either case someone loses a doublewide.

Please note that I live in a Florida county where there is a bunch of agriculture. Cabbage and potatoes. It is a downright ugly part of the world (and very typical of rural Florida areas) - with a lot of dirt poor workers. Poorly educated workers too (that's certainly one thing we need to improve on a lot - our educational system - fewer than 50% of all kids in Florida graduate from high school). Not anything like you see in Minnesota farming areas.

Moreover - I don't think you're going to see anything like you describe in the areas of the south where most people now live - metro areas like Atlanta, SE Florida, Raleigh-Durham, etc. Good thing too. The future of the south - assuming we don't fall 50 years behind the rest of the US - isn't in harvesting potatoes - it's in working at places like the new Dell computer plant planned for the Triad area.

If the food suffers from the modernization of life - so be it. Like I've said here before - the south isn't and shouldn't be a museum where strangers come to gawk at the quaint ways of the past. My first priority is to see kids learn to do math - to get educated - to get good jobs - not to make cornbread. I'm not saying that we definitely can't do it all - those are just my priorities.

By the way - I don't think of Kentucky as part of the deep south since it wasn't a confederate state. Robyn

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Of course, I am currently living in Missouri...

Missouri wasn't a confederate state either. Not that being a confederate state after the Civil War was any great shakes. I just think that the confederate states had a lot of catching up to do in terms of getting even with the rest of the country economically in the 20th century (and I don't think they started to hit their stride until air conditioning became widespread). Moreover - I look askance at efforts to try to cast in stone "traditions" that were in large part the result of miserable economic conditions. Robyn

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