Part 1 of a 5 day Tribute to the South
So for the next week or so, I'm going to write some Casebeer Tributes to the South...an Ode to the South...a farewell of sorts. You see, Ashley and I are moving on Sunday. That's not very long. This is the beginning of a very hard week and I figured that I need to do something to bring some smiles to some faces! So off we go, part 1 of 5 Tributes. Tribute #1: SOUTHERN FOOD.
I think the way I'll craft these tributes is by doing a series of goods, greats, and interestings. At least, that's how I'll write the first one. So before I even moved out here (down here, over here, whatever) everyone told me "you're going to love the food", "you have to eat this or that", etc etc. It was all about the FOOD. Well, I love food - this is no secret. This thought excited me about moving here. The first thing everyone asks from the West Coast is "have you tried grits?" After a few weeks of resisting, I caved. I tried some. Ashley had to make me try Cheddar Cheese Grits, so of course, who wouldn't love those?? Alan Yawn gave me grit lesson once too. LOTS of salt and pepper. Strange at first, but I've come to embrace it. Now after many months of grits, I'm just a little-butter-salt-and-pepper Grit guy.
Next on the good list is hush puppies. Jon Frazier loves hush puppies. I'm still not sure how to eat them - last night for instance, I dipped them in my 1000 Island salad dressing. Before that bite, they went into the ketchup. And after, directly into my tartar sauce. Does anyone know the proper way to eat these things?? I don't really care how, but they too are a delight found no where near the West Coast. A crying shame if you have never had a hush puppy!
Next up: The Great List. Food you can't live without. Food that will make Ashley and I come back to Georgia every 6 weeks just to eat this food. You know what I'm talking about: FRIED PICKLES. Just kidding, although I really do love fried pickles. What I am really talking about is the one and only CHIK FIL A. The nearest Chik to Oregon is Southern California. Some franchise guy in Oregon needs to get on this ASAP. But again, if you have never had Chik Fil A, you are missing out on real life. Some say real life is in Jesus. I couldn't agree more. It's also eating Chik Fil A. There was a stretch in Boone where I had it 4 days in a row (Ashley did not know about 2 of these days). There have also been twice-a-dayers. It's just that good. Chicken sandwhich, chicken nuggets, waffle fries, milkshakes...it is all good. You need to find one and eat some, immediately!
Another food category on the great list is the seafood. I have been a long time lover of good seafood, but it is different here. I have never had grouper. Or trigger fish. Or oysters. Or real authentic crab legs where you actually have to break them and get the damn meat out of the leg. I swear I tried for hours and ate about 4 ounces of food one time. But the seafood is amazing. Fried grouper? So good. Oysters Patti O'Dea style? Amazing. Crab Legs Aunt Lynn style? Hard work, but well worth it!! I love southern seafood. Last night (along with my hush puppy dilema) I had blackened Flounder, some of Kim's crab legs, 1 of Ashley's Crab stuffed Shrimp, and Gumbo. I mean, come on. Does it get any better than that??? The answer is no.
On the Interesting list is only one item. Maybe it even deserves a disclaimer, that's how disgusting it is. So here is the disclaimer: If you have a weak stomach, stop reading and go to the next paragraph. Last chance. Ok moving on. An O'Dea Family Tradition (ok, only 2 people actually like this) is called Pear Salad. Sounds delish, right? Think again. Imagine with me if you will: a succulent pear chopped in half. . . . .filled with a large scoop of MAYO. . . . .topped with shredded cheddar cheese and a cherry. What in the world? I was tricked into eating this one Easter a few years ago. They said, "Oh come on, everybody loves this thing!!!" So of course, trying to impress the futures, I ate it. Choked it down, really. But I guess people actually like this thing. I'm just not one of them!
And now on to some Honorable Mentions. Food that is definitely noteworthy. Top of the list:
- Nana's Chicken Salad. Also worth coming back every month or so for.
- Anything Danny cooks. In particular, steak with potatoes, seasoned veggies, and garlic bread. Ohhh soo good!
- The dreaded Banana Sandwhich. Yep. Banana Sandwhich. Bread, mayo, sliced naners, mayo, bread. Sick.
- Patti's chicken enchiladads
- BANANA PUDDING
- La Parilla Mexican Grill
- Southern BBQ (I favor the non-vinegar type...)
- Kim's artichoke dip
- Shrimp and Grits
- Mick Ultra, Blue Moon, Yeungling
- Steak n Shake, Waffle House
Well that about wraps up my food portion. Now that everyone is hungry. . .sorry about that! But needless to say, I love Southern Food. I am going to miss Southern Food. I am going to miss eating by the fire in the winter, and the pool in the summer. I am going to miss eating so much chicken salad that I feel like throwing up. I am not going to miss eating the Pear salad and actually throwing up. I am going to miss Ultras, Pinots, and a Guiness at the Olde Blind Dog. I am going to miss a lot!
Things Ashley needs to look forward to in moving West: Micro Brews, Scott Casebeer's cooking, organic everything, and Kettle Chips. Lots and lots of Kettle Chips.
Special and heartfelt thanks goes out to the O'Deas for showing me what real eating is like! Cheers to Southern Food!