When I see a Yankee I try not to laugh at them too hard…after all I WAS born in Ohio…but when I see their pitiable attempts at dealing with southern culture I have to admit, it DOES give me a good chuckle, especially when they are struggling with our food, like grits.
Y’all can quit giving me a hard time about being born in Ohio…I am NOT a Yankee! I’ve been living in Georgia since I was 9 years old. Yes, I was born up north, but I got over it.
Anyway, watching Yankees deal with all things southern is always good entertainment, but they have a particularly hard time with southern cuisine. Here are a few examples:
The proper method for eating fried chicken seems to be a mystery to folks from north of the Mason/Dixon line.
Everybody knows that fried chicken is meant to be picked up and eaten with your fingers…or at least all southerners know it…but Yankees seem to think that all chicken except fast food Kentucky Fried Chicken is supposed to be eaten with a fork. What’s up with that? Not only is chicken finger food, in some places it is actually ILLEGAL to eat fried chicken with a fork!
“…when Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper told Dietrick to put down her fork and listen up — she was under arrest.
“Hooper informed Dietrick that it’s against city ordinance to eat fried chicken, “a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic,” with anything other than your fingers.”
Folks in Gainesville oughtta know the proper method to use to eat chicken. With apologies to Springdale, Arkansas, Gainesville is THE poultry capital of the world.
More of the story shows just how serious this is:
“Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras was on hand at Longstreet Cafe to dismiss the charges of improper poultry consumption against Dietrick.
“Figueras let her off easy.
“You are required to come back to Gainesville often and are required to eat lots of Gainesville chicken,” Figueras told her.
“Dietrick said in all of her 91 years, this was her first run in with the law “except for a ticket I got once way back in the ’40s — something about parking,” she said.
Dietrick’s arrest citation ordered her not to get up from the table until she mastered the proper techniques for consuming this succulent delicacy, “down to and including the licking of the fingers upon the ingestion of the last available morsel.”
Another southern delicacy that seems to confound Yankees is boiled peanuts.
I’ve spent several years as a dumb redneck boiled peanut salesman selling them from a roadside stand. Every summer I’ve had several cars stop and the first thing they ask is, “What the heck is a boiled peanut?” Without even looking I know the tag on their car is from “up nawth”.
I’d like to take a moment here to address the northern illusion of we southerners’ perceived “dumb redneck” or “stupid hillbilly” image. Think about that question in the last paragraph…”What the heck is a boiled peanut?”
Well…it’s only two words…easy words. There is “boiled” and there is “peanut”. Just as a guess I’d say a boiled peanut is…a boiled peanut. Now…whose lightbulb ain’t too bright?
“Stupid hillbilly” indeed…
Anyway, boiled peanuts are a true southern delicacy. I also call them Caviar of the South. If you’ve never had any, give them a try if you get a chance…they are lip smackin’ good. A word of warning though…
Authentic boiled peanuts are served in a certain way. If you stop at a roadside stand to get some and the guy at the stand dips them up with a coffee can attached to the end of a stick, puts them in a brown paper lunch bag lined with a plastic bag like veggie bags from the grocery store, and gives you an extra paper bag for the shells…they are the real thing and are probably great.
On the other hand, if the guy at the stand dips them with anything that looks “kitcheny”, puts them in a Styrofoam cup, and doesn’t give you a shell bag…RUN!!! He’s probably a Yankee peanut salesman wannabe and his peanuts are probably pure YECCCHHH! (YECCCHHH is a highly technical culinary term for “bad flavor”).
Fried chicken and boiled peanuts aside, my favorite culturally southern food that confounds Yankees is grits.
Like boiled peanuts, the only way you can describe the taste of grits is to say, “Well, grits taste like grits.” There simply is not another food that I can think of that I could give as an example of the taste of grits. With that in mind I’d like to illustrate Yankee confusion about grits with a story from my younger years.
Back in my drinking days I was sitting a Waffle House restaurant in deep South Georgia at about 3:00 AM one morning after closing up all the bars. A nice young family, mom, dad, and a couple of kids, walked in looking pretty beat. I overheard mom and dad talking and it became apparent that they were just starting out their vacation, driving all night from somewhere up north…Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania…in order to be in Florida the next morning to begin their beach vacation. They had stopped at Waffle House to get some breakfast before finishing their drive to Jacksonville Beach.
They were sitting in the booth behind me with mom and dad back to back with me. After bringing their water and menus the waitress returned in a few minutes to take their order. After finding out what mom and the kids wanted the waitress turned to dad to take his order. Almost word for word the conversation went something like this:
Waitress: “And what can I get for you, sir?”
Dad: “I’m not sure. I’m thinking about getting grits and eggs, except I’ve never had grits and don’t know what they taste like. I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never had any.”
Waitress (hiding a smirk): Well, lots of people like them. Would you like to try some?”
Dad: “I’m not sure. What do grits taste like?”
Waitress (almost a full blown laugh now): “I don’t know how to explain their taste. They taste like, well, they taste like grits. Would you like some?”
Dad: “Well, if I didn’t like them I’d hate to waste an order. Tell you what, I know I want two eggs sunnyside up, an order of bacon, toast, and a cup of coffee. I’m still not sure about the grits though…”
Dad: “I’m still not sure I want the order of grits. I’ve heard they are good, and I would like to try them, but like I said, I’d hate to waste an entire order.
“Instead of a whole order of grits that might get wasted could you bring me just a grit so I could try one?”
I found myself with coffee spurting out my nose…while the waitress brought dad One…Single…Grit.