Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Southern Cuisine

 


My father was in the Air Force, and I spent my childhood, moving from base to base, city to city and country to country. We lived in Germany, Portugal, Turkey and West Pakistan, and toured the world from the U.S. to Europe, the Middle East, India and Korea. A saying in our family was, "It's June, time to pack."

The exposure to different foods from around the world influenced what I like to eat and how I prepare it. I used a mix of flavors in some of the dishes I prepared for food competitions, especially "SPAMARAMA", where I won the cooking trophy, "SPAMERICAS CUP" eight times.

I will be writing about Southern Cuisine. This is a broad topic, which gives me unlimited directions to explore. My first topic, one that I will explore many times, is about family. You can not talk about Southern cooking without the influence of the family. Recipes that are handed down, cooking utensils that were used by your grandmother, memories of spending time in the kitchen with relatives, these influence us as who we are.

My earliest memories of cooking and learning about food was with my grandmother. I would spend summers with my grandparents and learned about cooking from my grandmother and eating from my grandfather.

My mother knew the bus schedule and would flag down a Greyhound bus on the highway not to far from our house. It was ninety miles and I would look out the window and try to remember if anything had changed since the last time I took the trip.

My grandmother would pick me up at the bus station and since she didn't go into town very often, we had to stop at the grocery store. I would go up and down every aisle and look at every item, a trait I still possess.

When we got to the house, lunch would be on the stove, and grandma would heat it up for me. I don't remember her ever serving sandwiches or quick cold cuts.

Granddaddy owned a HUMBLE gas station, later on it was changed to an ESSO station, and I would work with him once in awhile. Learned how to fix flats, fill up cars, and generally ran the station while he would take a nap on the back counter. I would also drink every Delaware Punch I could find.

Time with Grandma was spent prepping for meals. Picking through the pinto beans for rocks and dirt, cutting vegetables, baking cookies and pies. Picking figs from the tree that was in front of the kitchen window and picking the chili peppers from the bush by the back door. The figs and the peppers are stories of their own. But every so often, grandma would have special projects to do. Two would be making and canning Green Tomato Chow Chow and Spiced Peaches. These two condiments were offered at every meal. These recipes are the ones I want to share. Recipes handed down from my grandmother that I still use when I have a garden full of tomatoes and my peach trees have more fruit then I can eat.

 

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