by Robin Fulcher, Spring Hill Tennessee
We southerners love sharing our food, the more the merrier! We have fish frys, pot lucks and shrimp boils where all the neighbors and friends come together and everyone brings their best, trying to outdo each other. Competition brings out the best in us and believe me, there are no losers. Everyone wins as we sit down, thankful for what we are about to partake in: a festival of taste, smell and sound. The whistle of sucking on crawfish heads, the sizzle of hot grease as a load of fresh catfish goes in, the rhythmic pounding while shredding pulled pork. Right from the garden, lake, river or woods, we like our food fresh. This is why southerners are known for their great food. The South issues more hunting and fishing licenses than any other part of the country. We love the pursuit of being a part of nature.
Everyone has at least one tried and true recipe that has been passed down through the generations. I know that if my house were on fire, I would grab my old folder of handwritten, 3x5 recipe cards. They are speckled with bits of egg or apple cider vinegar but I would not trade them in for a clean, typed and bound book any day. When I pull one out to begin, iit feels like spirits from the past enter my kitchen to watch and judge my efforts, hopefully giving a nod my way. I often wonder how my ancestors did it. My most cherished recipe goes back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was written by southerners – one of whom was my ancestor Josiah Bartlett. His wife made tea cake cookies which family legend says were Thomas Jefferson’s favorite. I have a Kitchenaid mixer, nonstick silpat pads and an oven I can adjust by 5 degrees. She made them by hand and cooked them in a wood-burning stove…unbelievable!
Cooking fills the senses. It allows you to start and finish something, beginning to end, plus you get to eat your hard work. There is an art to knowing when something is done and ready to be enjoyed and shared by all. Nothing makes us happier than sitting down at a long table covered with big bowls and plates of every type of food imaginable (and preferably straight from the backyard). We saved a spot for you, so come on down for a visit.