I'm not ready to start flying the Confederate flag or anything, but after living in the South for seven years, I believe my kitchen is acquiring a drawl.
Recently a friend from work gave me a big mess of collards. My husband, a Canadian, pretends they don't exist. More for me, I say! I cooked those green babies with a bit of bacon, some onions, garlic and olive oil. When they began to get just a bit crispy around the edges of some of the leaves, I added some chicken stock so they'd steam nice and soft. I was in hog heaven!
And grits. It was quite a few years before I discovered this emotional experience. The trick with grits is that you melt in Velveeta. I know Velveeta isn't real cheese. I'm from Wisconsin after all. But when it comes to grits, it's gotta be Velveeta. Grits don't claim to be health food. But they are proudly comfort food.
Sweet tea is not the same thing as sweetened iced tea in the North. Sweet tea is tea mixed with simple syrup. It's sswwweeeeeet and cold. If you order tea down here, don't expect a cup of Earl Gray. I don't drink sweet tea, but it's not because I don't want to. I've been know to mix a quarter glass of sweet tea with three quarters unsweetened tea.
I still maintain some Northern sensibilities. Even a girl who grew up eating head cheese and blood sausage isn't going to eat chitterlings (chittlins). They are pig guts and just wrong. If you ever hear I've eaten them, please come and do a Yankee intervention immediately.
Now let me explain that the Southern way to cook collards or any greens isn't really much like my way. Have you heard of fat back? It's the uber bacon. If you like bacon - and you know you do - fat back would make your toes curl up in sheer joy. It's more fat and more salt than bacon. It's to die for . . . literally, I'm afraid.
So I heard on the news last night that in addition to the Bible Belt, the South is also now the Diabetes Belt. Is it any wonder? When I tell people down here about Northern Wisconsin fish boils their eyes glaze over with pity just before they offer me a fried chicken biscuit with gravy.