I have lived in Tennessee my entire life. However… my daddy was born in Tennessee, then moved to Chicago as a child and stayed there for 10 years or so before moving back to Tennessee. My husband also spent most of his growing-up years in the North (okay, northern Virgina/Maryland, which I suppose is technically the South, but trust me the DC metro area does not resemble the rest of the South). Between the two of them and some other experiences along the way, I grew to realize that the South has a personality that is all its own. My favorites to speak about (and occasionally pick on) are food and language. (I’m sure you can tell from reading this blog those are two favorite areas of life in general, so why should focusing on the South be any different?).
Food… I have to say that food that screams Southern to me is not fried chicken and biscuits… though I won’t turn those down. It’s pinto beans and cornbread, washed down with sweet tea. (And, yes, I have drunk it from a Mason jar). It’s cheese grits (yum!) and country ham (even more yum! because I only get it at restaurants!). It’s quick peach cobbler with ice cream. It’s cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving instead of stuffing. Fruit tea. Those amazing green beans that older ladies cook and bring to church potlucks. Banana pudding. Homegrown tomatoes (I can’t wait until those are back in season!) I didn’t discover fried green tomatoes until I was out of college… but they are definitely in there too. And sweet potatoes doctored up with brown sugar and cinnamon until they might as well pass for dessert.
As for language, a group of people is “y’all” (which is not spelled ya’ll!) or “you all”. A soft drink is a “Coke” even if it is Pepsi, or RC (do other parts of the country even have RC?), or Dr. Pepper. “Fixin’ to” is a phrase that means “about to”. We say we “might could” do things and “reckon we should get going”. Being called “ma’am” is a rite of passage (that at least in my case was met with despair that I was getting older… though I was probably only in my 20’s!) 🙂 .
I also can’t pass up the opportunity (with all of you writers reading this blog right now) to talk about Southern authors. 🙂 Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Margaret Mitchell, Harper Lee… and I suppose more modern ones such as Pat Conroy and John Grisham as well. (I can’t say I’ve loved every book I’ve read by all of them but I can say I’ve at least read something from all of them).
There are certainly areas and aspects of the South I don’t love (and most more serious than the heat and humidity in August)… but today, in this post, I’m focusing on the positives. 🙂