Thursday, October 7, 2010
Close to Nowhere
My mother was a Yankee
I never understood, as a kid at the dinner table, why my dad made such a fuss about my mother being from “up North.”
My mom was a pretty good cook and unless she’d made beans and cornbread (now, one of my favorites!), I was generally pretty happy with whatever was on the table.
My dad, however, would frequently mention that the fried chicken or, often, the cornbread, wasn’t quite what it should be.
After I married and began to live in close proximity to “real” Southern cooks — my mother-in-law and her mother were both “real good” Southern cooks — I understood what my dad meant.
Not that my mom’s cooking wasn’t good. It was! It was just different.
Perhaps it was growing up in a “mixed” household that made this one new cookbook catch my interest.
We often get emails and calls at the office with books that a publisher or author would like reviewed. Sometimes, they sound good, sometimes, they don’t.
“Someone Stole the Cornbread from my Dressing,” by chef Elizabeth Gourlay Heiskell and transplanted Southerner Susanne Young Reed, caught my eye and my interest.
Suzanne Reed moved from the South and tailgating at The Grove, to Pennsyslvania. In Chapter Two of her book, she tells about her first tailgating adventure up North — she dressed in her best dress and heels with a picnic basket full of fine china, wine, baked goods and cheese arriving at a Northern football game tailgate party where everyone else was dressed in jeans and literally, eating out of their trunks.
No tents on the lawn, with white tablecloths, fine china and silverware here.
Reed, and Chef Heiskell have written a book highlighting the culinary differences (their words, not mine), between the North and the South. They managed to make it funny — Reed’s description of tailgating in the Grove is even funnier because you know all the folks she’s talking about.
The recipes are also pretty good! Deloris’s fried chicken will make you lots of friends. The Peanut Butter Bars will make you best friends. The Pimento Cheese and Egg and Olive Sandwiches are tried and true recipes — real Southern traditions. Delicious also.
And reminders everywhere throughout the cookbook, when mayonnaise is an ingredient — only Hellman’s will do!
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