I am a southern, born and bred. Growing up in the South definitely has its advantages. Visitors may admire our beautiful scenery, hospitality, slow-paced life and southern drawls but when asked, most will admit to being most impressed with our food.
With this reasoning, I have to agree. We have a way of seasoning and preparing foods unlike any other region. While a little battering and frying generally makes everything taste a little better, I am convinced that food prepared with love, is the key to the best the culinary experience.
I fondly remember my mother scurrying around the kitchen preparing for her favorite day; Homecoming Sunday at our small church, Emmanuel Baptist. She would spend the entire day prior making caramel or coconut cakes, banana pudding, caramel, chocolate, and coconut pies, vegetables, and potato salad (always served warm). She would get up early Sunday morning and fry mounds of golden crispy chicken. Oh, that chicken! I have yet to find any other chicken which compares to Marthie’s.
Many family gatherings were had around Momma and Daddy’s table, much advice was given, tragedies and triumphs were shared. Southern moms know a secret. Food, when prepared with love, you see, has healing properties.
I remember her fixing chicken and dumplings or a meaty casserole for the sick or for those who had just lost a loved one. No, going through the drive-thru, just would not do. Her food and precious words of comfort were no less than magical. I remember coming to her house to cry on her shoulder, after losing my first patient as newly registered nurse. She fixed me breakfast and let me cry. She then encouraged me to press on understanding that this would be one of many days like this. Those shoulders were my soft place to fall numerous times over the years.
My mom will be gone from this earth for five years on February 26th. Life has not been the same, but I have found my new normal. I took my next spot in line and continue to carry on traditions with my own family, that meant so much to her. I wear many hats, but my favorite by far is one of a southern mom and grandmother. May the food just be one more way for my family to know how much I cherish each and every one of them.
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