Five (Delicious) Reasons Being a Southerner is a Frame of Mind: Virginia Willis

1. Southern Hospitality
“I am a firm believer that what folks call Southern hospitality is just as simple as making someone feel welcomed and comfortable. The minute someone walks in my door I ask him or her if they would like a glass of tea or water. Or bourbon. Or a bite to eat. Hospitality and good manners are the social lubrication the world needs to run more smoothly. It’s just a matter of being polite.”

2. Importance of Family
“A sense of history, respect for the past, and an intense feeling of belonging to family are legendary in the South. Cultural examples of this include family reunions with long buffet tables of ham, potato salad, slaw and cornbread that draw offspring from all over the U.S.

Yes, Southerners have a proud food tradition in relation to family, but so does the lady I met New Mexico, who after hearing me tell of making biscuits with my grandmother excitedly told me about growing up helping her grandmother make tortilla soup, or the Polish man in Connecticut whose eyes glistened while telling me about his mama’s pierogi. The relationship between food and family roots people in their culture and gives them their place in the world, it doesn’t matter where you were born.”

3. Appreciation for Blessings
“Southerners have always been resourceful. The South has forever been an agricultural based region, and therefore, poor. People have traditionally grown their own food, foraged in the woods and harvested fish and shellfish from the lakes, rivers and ponds. Using up every bit of the pig but the squeal was born from frugality. Corn was eaten fresh in the summer and dried for the fall and winter. An appreciation of blessings is a frame of mind that comes from going without. More people could work a little harder at being a little more Southern on this one, in my opinion.”

4. Emphasis on Local
“With its fertile soils and hot climate, the South is a nearly year-round cornucopia of gorgeous produce – this has always been a land people could live off of. All across the region from spring to late fall, produce stands pop up in the corners of shopping center parking lots, at intersections of various main roads and at the roadside in the country. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in fresh and locally grown produce. We are going back to the foods of our ancestors. Farmers markets are now appearing all over the U.S., and stores are listening to customers’ requests to eat seasonally and buy locally. The food of the South is no longer just about fried chicken and overcooked greens. Or doesn’t have to be. Don’t get me wrong – I love fried chicken – but we are more than that. We were country when country wasn’t cool.”

5. Familiar Foodways
“For the past several years a majority of the nominees for ‘Best American’ cookbook by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals were Southern. People like the familiarity of Southern food. Simple country cooking is simple cooking all over the world, at least in the Western hemisphere. Stewed chicken is coq au vin, grits are polenta, and primal foods like BBQ exist without borders. Every nation under the sun throws meat on fire, I just think we might do it a little better down here.”


~ by elevatedsouthern on 2012/02/20.

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