Friday, August 1, 2014
The South's Food Groups
I just got an email inviting me to a food fair on "Healthy Southern Cooking". Now I do not mean to be a curmudgeon but if it is a show on real southern cooking they should have named their show "Tasty Southern Cooking", "Traditional Southern Cooking", or "Good Ol' Southern Cooking", but they chose the word 'Healthy'. Many would call that an oxymoron. I will not stoop to that argument. But it didn't sound right and I chose to regret to their kind thought due to prior plans I had made but I was sure it would be lovely affair enjoyed by all.
It is not worth my time. As my Auntie would say, "Why mess up something good?" or a good friend of mine would say, "Why screw it up?" My first thought was "Have they lost their ever loving minds?" Whatever the reaction, they are talking about two different things here. Oh they are not necessarily mutually exclusive - well maybe.
I can almost imagine the "small" changes they would make, certainly just take a little here, a tad there, nothing anyone would even notice. "It's the same thing."Yeah right. The last time I heard that, my mother was telling me that the homemade copy she made me of the authentic Lacoste tennis shirt all my friends were wearing was "just the same". It was made from polyester and since she could not find an alligator from the notions store to sew on the left breast certainly no one would notice that she substituted a small elephant. I digress.
Part of southern cooking, let's say the heart of southern cooking, is the flavor. And that flavor is not something you can bottle (short of someones secret BBQ sauce) or put in a flavor packet. The collards taste just right because of the thick pieces of bacon, hunk of fat back, or piece of salted pork you browned in the pot before you threw the collards in.
Biscuits will not work correctly without Crisco or lard. (And for the record, I seriously doubt Bisqick contains dehydrated lard.) OK, you can fry chicken in vegetable oil and it will taste great. But I can assure you it tastes better in lard. And no, there is no such thing as "Oven Baked Fried Chicken" - seriously?
Butter is a food group down here, along with bacon, and gravy. A decent biscuit deserves a pat of sweet creamy butter. "I can't believe it's not butter" isn't - just in case your mother never told you. Margarine is blasphemy along with turkey bacon (now there's an oxymoron) and powdered gravy.
I realize that due to heart health issues some folks need to abstain from the saturated fats. Everything in moderation. However, anyone who knows anything about the south knows moderation is not in our DNA. The only time southern women use moderation is in their words when writing a note of regret to the hostess of a party they did not want to attend in the first place.