Southern Way

Southern Way

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Barbie World

I never thought it would happen, but I just realized that Barbie and I have something in common. Unfortunately it doesn't have anything to do with her height of 7' 2" (if she were to come to life), or her unbelievable (really) 36-18-33 figure. Alas, it is also not the phenomenal wardrobe she has always sported that put her on the best dressed list. All I can claim is that we were both "born" in 1959, and I will (smugly) add she is 6 months older.

However, I think we all agree, she has fared much better than most of us. Besides the body some would die for and that wardrobe we all would love to have (especially the shoes - go ahead admit it), she always had those great cars even James Bond would envy, and that Dream House -(surely the precursor to HGTV's Dream Home).

But then, even though they hurt sometimes, I like the fact that my knees bend. If, you think about it, her countenance reminds one of permanent botox treatments. And, I have been accused of being stiff - but really. All in all I think I'll pass on the Barbie World. Besides, I never cared for Ken.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Duck Fat

It may be un-American but I have never been a big fan of French Fries - I can take them or leave them. Usually when I find myself eating them, it is not because I want them, it is because they are there - in front of me and I am not paying attention, just putting things in my mouth. A first rate restaurant in town puts truffle oil on their fries - now that takes them to a whole new level and quickly gets my attention.


And, yes there is a restaurant in our town that uses truffle oil - another story for another time. Most folks don't know what truffles are. They just can't figure out why the french fries don't taste like chocolate but they like it. If someone really explained to these folks that what they were confusing with fine chocolates were fungi found buried in the earth, attached to the roots of a tree, that were "rooted out" by a well trained pigs, they may be a little confused. But I digress.


I am on the road and after a long day dealing with the effects of fowl weather and air travel, all I wanted was a good meal and a comfortable bed. In my mind, a good meal usually means comfort food - a steak. The hotel's restaurant, which happened to be really good, served french fries with their steaks. Normally I would have asked for a loaded baked potato but tonight I was willing to go with the flow.


When the waitress brought the basket of bread I new something was up. The bread was unforgettable - chewy, tangy with sea salt. Then my steak came which was good but the fries were unbelievable. I won't even try to describe them - trust me, remember I don't care for french fries and I sat there and savored each one. When I asked the waitress, what made them taste so much better than most, she said, "They are good, aren't they? The chef fries them in duck fat." Like I have said before, anything fried well, is fried in lard. Duck fat fits that category.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Which Dukes?

I've mentioned before, the southern nectar of the Gods - Bar-B-Que, and its the quirks. But, our town add a whole "new wheel to the wagon" as a friend of mine would say. There is one family here, the Dukes, who obviously know the secret recipe - the problem is like many families, there must have been some feuding because now there are three Dukes Bar-B-Que restaurants in town, run by various parts of the family, each called "Dukes Bar-B-Que". Each is very good. (They all use the same "secret" sauce.) However, like everything else in life, each is just a little different and has their own following.



But how do you keep them straight since they have the same name. They are located in three different parts of town. Meeting someone for lunch goes something like this:"Let's go get some Bar-b-Que." "OK" "Where do you want to go." "How about the highway department?" "No, that's too far away, I don't have that much time?" "Ok, then the fire department?" "No, I want some fried chicken?" "Well, then I'll meet you at the Pepsi Cola plant." "Ok, at noon?" "See you there."

Translation: Let's go get Bar-b-Que, the Duke's by the highway department is too far away, the Dukes by the fire station doesn't serve fried chicken, so we'll meet at noon at the Duke's Bar-B-Que Restaurant across the street from the Pepsi Cola plant.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Pill Wagon

I was always confounded by the anti-drug campaigns. When President Nixon took on the "War on Drugs" in 1969, it was a call to arms in our community. (In fact I always remembered "These are drugs" (and a hot frying pan is shown) then "This is your brain on drugs" (and a egg is shown frying in the pan.) In my mind this ad was put out in the late 60's early 70's. I must have been doing drugs because when I researched it, the ad was not put out until 1987. But I digress.) At our school they would bring these full color posters with pictures of what "bad" drugs looked like so we would know what to stay away from. Basically they were telling us we needed to rat on anyone we knew who was "taking drugs". And, the evil "weed" was the root of it all.

It wasn't that I was into drugs or did not understand or appreciate the consequences, I did. There was little doubt in my mind if you partook in illicit drugs your mind would be gone and you would find yourself on the corner of some big city street wearing a multi-colored sari with a sign around your neck saying "Please feed the homeless." Of course you could not see what was going on because the drugs had made you go blind. I paid attention to all the TV ads. Yes suree bobtail, I knew what would happen and I wasn't having anything to do with it. It was evil - all of it.

Now, my father was a pharmacist, or "druggist" as they were called then. So I was used to being around all different types of medicine. And, I had worked in Dad's drugstore since I was old enough to answer the telephone, so I probably had more hands on drug experience than all my friends combined.

The conundrum for me was a vehicle. And not just any vehicle. Daddy took my brother and me to school every morning on his way to work. He would usually drive the drug store's delivery truck - a Ford Ranchero. Remember those? But this was a little special. It had the name of the drug store painted on the doors, along with the phone number and the slogan "Free Pick-up and Delivery". It was white with colorful tablets, pills, and capsules painted all over it and on the tail gate, in big bold letters, as if there was any doubt, it said "Pill Wagon". Now around town, everybody knew the Pill Wagon. As a little girl, it was cute, as I got older and the kidding started from my friends, the attractiveness of my "ride" quickly faded.

One day, we are sitting in class listening, once again, to the local policeman talk to us about the evils of drugs. When he pulls out his handy dandy color poster, it dawns on me. I am literally the "poster child" for his program. I ride to school every morning wrapped in that poster. Why couldn't I just be a normal child and be dropped off at school in station wagon, or God forbid a four door sedan.

I came to dread having to show up everyday in a vehicle that resembled the anti-drug posters the officers were always drilling into our little minds. I would go out in the evenings to see if any of the illicit drugs that we were supposed to be on the look out for matched the colorful artwork on the "Pill Wagon". But it was all confusing to me. I understood the difference between illegal drug use and prescription drug use, but still found it a little unsettling.

Eventually the "Pill Wagon" had done her time. I don't know how many miles the old girl had on her, but it was time for her to go to "Delivery Truck" heaven and none to soon for me. Dad was very sad. He was attached to that truck, it was part of the business, of it's identity. When he announced that he had to buy a new delivery truck, I crossed my fingers. My only fear was that it may be something bigger, more colorful. But God was kind. He just bought a regular pick-up truck with a magnetic sign on the door with the name of the pharmacy. He said the Pill Wagon was a one-of a-kind.

Looking back on it, I realize that, like most kids, it didn't take much to embarrass me. And, that truck gave my friends much fodder to play with. But they were the only ones who felt that way. Everyone else in the community had an affection for that delivery truck. And, I should have appreciated it more because there is little doubt that Dad's marketing ploy was part of his financial success. However, at 10 years old it is hard to appreciate that aspect of it.

And, I am sure some where out there another drug store had their own "Pill Wagon", but I have never seen one. I survived the "Drug War" and my friends' endless ribbing. As much as I believe many things painful at the time, are good lessons in the long run. This is one that I feel was optional. I still catch Hell from my friends to this day about this. Whenever my girls complained growing up about something I did that embarrassed them (which was often), I should have retorted with - "Well, at least your father doesn't take you to school everyday in a truck with tablets, pill, and capsules painted all over it and the moniker 'The Pill Wagon' on the tailgate."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mama's Family Beach Trip

My mother has started planning her annual "Family Beach Trip." Well, let me give you some history here. Since she only has my brother and me and he lives in another state, we don't get together that often, well usually once - at Christmas. It's not that we don't get along - we do, and maybe that is because we only see each other once a year. But I digress.

Two years ago, in May, Mama showed up in my office all excited. "Well, I found us a place at the beach." Clueless as to what she was talking about, I asked, "Us?". "Yes, I rented us a place at the beach for a week." She could tell by the puzzled look on my face that I didn't get it. So she continued, "For our family beach trip." "What family beach trip?" "I thought it would be nice for all of us to get together for a week this summer at the beach. So I rented a house big enough for all of us to stay together." "Um, and when is this 'family beach trip'?" "The second week in June. The weather is so nice then."

"Mama, I can't just take off from work then with no notice. Does my brother know about this?" "Of course, you know his family loves the beach." "We all love the beach. That's not the question." It was at that point that I realized that it didn't matter if it suited or not, we were going on a family vacation the second week in June, come Hell or high water. "Well, I suggest you go home and call him right now so he can make plans." "I'll just do that. He'll be so excited." "And, so surprised," I added.

That night I got the expected phone call from my brother. "Did you know anything about this?" "No, and I'm sure it suits your schedule about as much as it does mine." "You couldn't stop her or change her mind?" "It was a done deal before I knew about it." "Did she tell you she has invited her college roommate to join us?" "No, I wasn't privy to that bit of knowledge." So we all changed our schedules and rearranged our lives to join Mama at the beach. And, we had a good time. However, we also had a Come to Jesus meeting with her that if she wanted to do this each year, she needed to plan it in advance and consult with us about the timing.

I mentioned this to one of my friends. She laughed and said don't feel like the Lone Ranger, my mother did the same thing to us last year, except she planned for all of us to go to a dude ranch in Montana. Suddenly, a relaxing week at the beach sounded pretty good and I wasn't going to give my mother any ideas.

Selling water.

I don't get it - bottled water. Folks are making fortunes selling water in bottles. Not oil, fine perfume, frankincense, or myrrh but water. And, in today's world the retail price is more per gallon than gasoline. And, we are not talking about special water with healing powers of Lourdes, or Warm Springs, Georgia (of FDR fame), or White Sulphur Springs, WV (of The Greenbrier fame). Often the water is no more special than that coming out of the taps of New York City.

But packaging is everything. It looks clean, clear, and unique coming from a bottle. Now in Europe they serve "sparkling" water which at least offers something extra - effervescence - bubbles (or gas as they call it). And, most Americans don't have a sophisticated palette for the gaseous water (although I happen to favor it.) I prefer Perrier, particularly with lime (OK it sounds "refined" but it tastes good.)

But back to bottled water. To me this falls into the "Why in the Hell didn't I think of this!" category. But who knew? While everyone was trying to develop something to sell to the American public to make millions, some genius just filled up plastic bottles with water, marketed it as "healthy" and voila - a phenomenon was born.

The irony is that these consumers that are so concerned about the environment are packing land fills with the empty bottles from their healthy water. If I want some water, it suits me just to get a clean glass from my cabinet, add ice cubes from the freezer, and fill it with cool tap water.

Now, if I can figure out how to bag and sell fresh air. Sounds crazy? Crazy as selling water?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Carolinas - Not!

There are several things folks often get confused. For instance: freezing rain and sleet or different place forks in a sterling pattern. But when people refer to the land located south of the state of Virginia, and west of the states of Tennessee and Georgia, as the "Carolinas", then I would like to set the record straight. There is no "Carolinas". Never was, never will be. There are two sovereign states, the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. And, they are as different as apples and rocks. I cannot speak for the folks in North Carolina, but South Carolinians take offense when we are lumped together with the state to our north and collectively referred to as the "Carolinas".

My daughter quickly pointed out to friends that North Carolina was the home of NASCAR and John Edwards and South Carolina was not. Well, we have Mark Sandford crying for Argentina, but at least he wasn't seduced by some new age white trash harlot. And give Jenny Sandford credit, thank God she did not stand by her man, she let him stand and fall by himself in front of God and everybody. If you didn't know better, you'd think she was born here. But I digress.

If you know your geography, you know that the city of Charleston is located on a peninsula where the Ashley and Cooper rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. So, we're a little arrogant. Well a lot arrogant, we start teaching that to them while they're young, like age five. After all it was South Carolina that seceded first in 1860 to protect state's rights. North Carolina was the last state to leave the union in May of 1861. That wasn't very neighborly of them, was it?

We often hear comments about how backwards, quaint, and slow we are. Yet, folks flock to our state going on about the food, the natural beauty, the warmth and congeniality of our people. That's fine with us, we just take their money to the bank (or the jar in the backyard depending on who you're are dealing with.) Heck, we even convinced the Baptists it was OK to serve liquor on Sunday in the low country so the Yankees could wet their whistle and leave more of their money with us.

Charleston is often named as the most beautiful and friendliest city in America. So, I am not saying we are better than North Carolina. (Because my mama taught me not to brag.) But, down here, it's game, set, match otherwise we would have moved. For a little state, we are not going to stand back and let others tower above us. In a way South Carolina is that good looking small guy in school. You know the one that always started the fights and spent a lot of time in time out. But even with a black eye and a few broken ribs, his ego was never bruised. He still had the best parties that everyone would die for an invitation to attend. You have to remember, we started the war and the only way it was ended was by Sherman's march to the sea straight through South Carolina with a scorched earth policy.

Last time I checked there were 50 states. I can't speak for those folks in the "Dakotas".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Need to know - or Not?

I am a firm believer that any mother in her right mind wants to be on a "need-to-know" basis. If I really don't need to know about something, then spare me the agony and don't tell me. And, for God's sake don't tell your father. I don't need a confession of every little sin or minor transgression you may have had. Not only do I not need to know - I don't care. How about let your mother sleep in peace at night.

It is bad enough that I have to know about some things. Yes, it was best that you told me about the "incident" involving the police prior to Mary Alice's mother calling. I was better prepared to deal with her. However, I really did not need to know how many beer bottles you and your friends had to hide from us when you were 12 years old and we came home early. Nor do I need to know that the family car will actually reach the speed of 120 miles per hour.

Some mothers want their children to be their best friends and share everything with them. How much heartache can they take? Maybe their offspring are not as "adventuresome" as ours. Perhaps theirs stay between the lines, follow the leader, and play by the rules.

One mother asked me the other day, "Don't you want to know what they are doing?" "No, have you lost your ever loving mind?", was my reaction. "I don't want to know. I don't want to think about it. I've been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt." (Although, it doesn't fit any more.)

If my kids need me, or need me to know something then they can tell me. I'll always be here for them. But spare me the pain and angst of what I've already been through. It was painful enough growing up. They can do it on their own. They're big girls. There are a lot of things mothers don't need to know. And everyday, I am thankful for the knowledge that not knowing is OK, in fact a lot of the time, it is the only sane way to survive.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Tree for "Miss" Margaret

Now most people think that I-95 is the main auto route from the north to Miami, and for modern day auto travel it is. But if you really want to experience the true South, you need to take Highway 301 as it winds its way through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, into the lower part of Georgia below Statesboro, where it takes a slow left turn to head due south into Florida.


Long before I-95 was on the drawing board, Highway 301 was the main north-south route through these states. It meanders its way through the old tobacco farms of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In South Carolina and Georgia you can still see large expanses of cotton fields and in the late fall, the sides of the roads will be scattered with white fluff that fell off the large bales of cotton as they were taken from the fields to the cotton gins. All along this highway you can glimpse what is left of grand old homes, some just shadows of themselves, hollow and half hidden in cudzu, others standing firm as remnants of a time long gone.

When the interstate was built, it took the life blood out of hundreds of small towns that depended upon the tourist dollars. Highway 301, the main street of many of these towns, brought Yankees (and their money) through town on their way south to Florida - “Snowbirds” we called them. The interstate bypassed the towns and only those few lucky enough to be close to an exit had the chance to flourish. The others went the way of towns out west in the dust bowl.

Our town was one of those towns with Highway 301 running through the center. We still have the carcasses of old motels that closed soon after the interstate opened, of resteraunts that could not make it on local business alone. But, like most southern towns, we also had the beautiful farmland and grand old homes that graced the highway outside of town. This is where my story begins. Most of Highway 301 is four lane, with a grassy median, and no where along that highway is anything in the median. Well, no where except outside our fair town.

The Senator and his wife, “Miss” Margaret lived in his old family home, that everyone referred to as “the big house” just outside town on 301. It was a grand old white antebellum home, set in an established yard of old oaks, camellias, and azaleas. When the beloved Senator passed away, “Miss” Margaret wanted to do something in his memory that would be special and would, in her words “beautify the area for all the people.” Her idea was to plant a mature palmetto tree in the median of the highway in front of their home. Since he had been a state senator, she had plenty of contacts and set about seeing what would be involved in getting her tree planted. She was quickly (and most politely) told that it would not be possible to plant a tree in the median of the highway and given several regulations that stipulated such.

When the family learned of her plan, they were most happy that State had put an end to it, relieving them of that responsibility. They knew if she wanted it done, they were not only going to have to do it, but also provide the maintenance. But they should have known she was not going to take “no” for an answer. She continued petitioning higher powers and always, very politely, told no.

One day, her daughter-in-law and grandson were on their way home from town. As they got within sight of the Miss Margaret’s home, the grandson said, “Mama, is that a tree in the median in front of Nannie's house.” As she looked, and realized it was not a mirage, she answered, “I’m afraid so.” They immediately went to "Miss" Margaret’s to inquire about the tree. "Miss" Margaret was beside herself. “Isn’t it lovely? What a wonderful memorial to the Senator.” But who gave you permission?” asked her daughter-in-law. “No one. I got tired of asking, so I just called the tree service and had them plant it.” “And they just did it, no questions asked?” Then she stopped. “Never mind. I don’t want to know anything else.”
So, ever since, there has been that wonderful landmark, and memorial to the Senator, the only tree planted in the median of Highway 301. Folks often ask me, “I didn’t know you could plant a tree in the middle of the highway?” My answer, “You can’t, unless you are "Miss" Margaret.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Four Truths of Motherhood

It's never good when my youngest daughter calls , and her opening line is, "Are you alone?" This is the point when I start pouring a glass of wine, or better yet a stiff drink. Then after I realize that the law is not involved (yet), she hasn't eloped (although that would relieve us of the stress and expense of a wedding), and nothing has happened that will require a hasty wedding, I can just settle down and prepare for some disaster that she doesn't want her father to know about. Like I can solve every calamity she creates.

I have tried to be honest with my girls as they grew up. Being a mother is not all it's cracked up to be. Oh, there are those "Hallmark" moments when you realize that it is all worth it, otherwise you would share the natural instinct with mothers in the wild to kill your young.

First, I impressed upon them that child birth hurts and that is just the beginning. My mother never gave me this advice. But come to think of it - I know why. My mother felt nothing, remembered nothing, and awoke 2 days later with a beautiful daughter that a nurse was caring for. I on the other, begged for all the drugs that had been developed, they would give me little, and what they did had no effect, it hurt like Hell, and five minutes after going through the most pain I have ever experienced they hand me this screaming baby, smile and say "Here she is!"

I tried in vain to convince my Ob/Gyn to give me Gas for my pain during child birth - after all they used it on my mother. I was born with two arms, two legs, with ten digits on each. I can walk, talk, and I graduated from college - it can't have too many side effects. But I digress.

Secondly, I told them that, unfortunately, they did not come with instructions, a guarantee, or a return policy. Once they were delivered, their Dad and I were on our own.

Thirdly, God sent them young for a reason. We got attached to them before they became a little "trying". By that time we had such an emotional investment, we were willing to do anything we could to help them (and us) survive to adult hood.

Fourth, the goal was for them to leave the nest and be successful.

Now how much of this they took seriously, I'll never know. I'll just wait until they have their first child. Then I'll just sit and watch. One thing is, they can't say I wasn't honest.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Lee Brothers

I'm a little confused, but then it doesn't take much to confuse me. The "In" cookbook writers these days are the Lee brothers, Matt & Ted. Now, in full disclosure, they are the ones who finally led me out of the darkness and saved my reputation by showing me how to cook collards. That said, I was reading a write up about them and their new cookbook. They said that even though they went to school in the northeast, they grew up in Charleston. What is interesting is that they moved to Charleston in 1980, with their family, from Manhattan - as in New York City.

I imagine that their reaction when they got here was something to the effect of "What the Hell have Mama and Daddy done now?" They talk about skateboarding in downtown Charleston. (I can also envision some locals saying, "Where did these young men come from?".) But they are bright boys and knew a good thing when they saw it (or tasted it.) They obviously learned a lot and have done well with it. And, don't get me wrong, they never claim to be native born blue blood south of Broad Charlestonians. Their long road to culinary success is in their cookbooks. And, it is an interesting story.

Now back to my confusion. In reading through their cookbooks, which have very interesting stories about local characters and customs that play into their recipes, they are quick to give credit to others. They talk about their education in southern cuisine and learning how to cook. It is all very basic. Paula Dean calls them the "Lewis and Clark of southern cuisine". Actually, I think they are the most honest southern cooks.

They give credit where credit is due. Other authors who write southern cookbooks (and yes I worded it that way on purpose) are just like carpetbaggers. They come in, get to know nice people, claim the traditions as their creations, write them down, and make fortunes selling cookbooks. Worse yet, they take our wonderful cuisine and "doctor it", make it "better", and then write their books. These folks should be hanged to dry somewhere. (This goes back to the Fried Chicken craze in New York City. See Jan 12)

Black eyed peas can be served with fresh artichoke relish on the side, but it is not a dish of chilled peas to be served mixed with mango chutney in a sherbet dish with a sprig of mint. You can grill your shrimp with a cinnamon glaze (God forbid) but don't call it southern cuisine. And, if don't know what She-crab soup or Chicken fried steak is, or worse yet, are afraid to add it to your cookbook it's not true southern cuisine. Most good South Carolina cooks have a copy of Charleston Receipts (the cookbook first published by The Charleston Jr. League in 1950 and it is very much the same in its 33rd edition). We don't change much here.

What I am trying to say is, you have 2 young men who came in as boys, embraced a way of life, and gave back by writing cookbooks that recount stories of our culture and the people. Their recipes are of the true food and the way to prepare it. No fuss, no fake accents. If they weren't honest and good folks, we wouldn't have welcomed them in. The irony is, they had to come here, from out there, to appreciate the "real thing". And, they are not scared to write about it, because they understand the wealth of authenticity.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To Engrave or Not to Engrave - That is the Question

Last year, at a board meeting for the debutante society, one member made the suggestion that perhaps we should consider not having the invitations engraved, but use thermography instead. You would have thought she was suggesting that the debs could wear red dresses. There was just silence at the table. I, taking my life - or at least my social reputation - in my own hands, supported the idea, reminding everyone that it would save a significant amount of money and with today's technology it was very hard to tell the difference.

One of my fellow board members spoke up, "Oh, most people couldn't tell the difference, but I can assure you, my mother-in-law can. And, I would get the first phone call. I can hear it now. 'I just got my Ball invitation and I swear it did not feel like it was engraved. And, when I looked at the back, I found it wasn't. Y'all need to call that engraver right now and tell him of his error?'" We all laughed, sharing her pain - because we all could imagine the phone call.

After much discussion, it was decided that we would break with tradition and forgo engraved invitations. But it was not a unanimous decision. There were other decisions made that afternoon, but none so earth shattering.

When the invitations arrived, the doubters were pleasantly surprised. There was a collective sigh of relief. (I'm not exactly sure what they were expecting.) The invitations were mailed. The Ball could go on.

At the next meeting, I asked my friend if the invitations had made it past the "mother-in-law" test. She laughed. "Oh, the invitations were not the problem this year. I had to hear about the venue for luncheon being changed. Seems it did not suit her that it was not at the Country Club." Knowing her mother-in-law had been a former president of the society and was a stickler for protocol, I couldn't help but ask, "I don't remember that being in the constitution." "It isn't and I can assure you I looked."

At this meeting, someone suggested we start the receiving line at 7 pm instead of 7:30 to give everyone more time. My friend just shook her head. "Don't go there unless you're going to call my mother-in-law."

Monday, March 1, 2010

We Eat Meat

If you ask someone down here, "What's for supper?" they are most likely going to answer in one word, "Meatloaf", "Chicken Casserole", "Chicken Fried Steak", "Pork chops". Now, some may, after a moment add a list of dishes accompanying the main entre. So, one would come to the conclusion, correctly, that there are few vegetarians among us. Now, don't get me wrong, we love our vegetables - those fresh bounties of our backyard gardens and farms. But, everything is served around the main dish - the meat.

I admire vegetarians if they make their choice for a rational reason. I once had a co-worker who told me she was a vegetarian. When I inquired what was the basis of her decision to give up meat, she said that she was following the example of a female co-worker she admired. Then, I pushed a little further, "And her reason for being a vegetarian?" "Well, I'm not sure. But since she was one, I was certain that I should be one also." Sounds good to me, just like lemmings off a cliff. But I kept going, "Do you like the taste of meat?" "Oh yes," she said, "I love meat." I just quit, sometimes you can't save people from themselves.

As my Aunty used to say, "It takes all kinds to make the world go around." There are always the picky eaters, or "finicky" as my mother used to say. Oysters tend to be a challenge for some. Now why someone would have issue with one of the most exquisite tastes God put on the earth, I don't know. Could be you are eating a gelatinous bivalve, and the best way is straight from the shell just slightly steamed, are better yet raw. Even I have reservations, Ok I just don't go there, with chicken livers or gizzards. Heck, some folks want go near asparagus - go figure.

Up north they talk about "Comfort Food", a term I had never heard until several years ago. Down here, we find comfort in all our food . . . and our drink. But, unlike the poor people up North, who are shut in for long periods of time during the cold winter months and need hearty nourishment to keep them going, down here we just love to eat. We see it as a religious experience.