In the South, life brews, simmers and bakes. Eating a meal in true Southern fashion is an art form—which is why it shows up so readily in our greatest pieces of literature. Be it cooking, serving, eating or arguing around a table, all figure prominently in our regional texts and offer lessons. Dive into the delicious words of wisdom below.
1. The kitchen is hotter than Hades, but it’s worth it.
“When does Primrose Fairchild think she can make that ton of chicken salad if she doesn’t come on?” cried Tempe aloud in the kitchen as the clock was striking the dot of something. Some of the road turkeys and the ham were lined up in the middle of the kitchen table, and the oven gave off waves of fire and fragrance.
– Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty
2. Use locally sourced ingredients and provide a little entertainment.
He had a string of fresh-caught trout for a present.
“Ah’ll clean ’em, you fry ’em and let’s eat,” he said with the assurance of not being refused. They went out into the kitchen and fixed up the hot fish and corn muffins and ate. Then Tea Cake went to the piano without so much as asking and began playing blues and singing, and throwing grins over his shoulder.
– Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
3. Make more than you need. You never know who might turn up.
The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family: hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs. Atticus grinned when he found a jar of pickled pigs’ knuckles. “Reckon Aunty’ll let me eat these in the dining room?”
– To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
4. Sometimes a sun-brewed glass of sweet tea is the only thing to slake your thirst.
[Scarlett O’Hara’s] tongue was furred and her throat parched as if flames had scorched it and no amount of water could assuage her thirst. Her head felt swollen and she winced even when she turned her eyes. A queasiness of the stomach reminiscent of the early days of her pregnancy made the smoking yams on the breakfast table unendurable, even to the smell.
– Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
5. Comfort food can only be found in your heart and in your home.
“You know, it’s funny what you’ll miss when you’re away from home. Now me, I miss the smell of coffee…and bacon frying in the morning. You cain’t smell anything they’ve got cooking out here, and you cain’t get a thing that’s fried. Everything here is boiled up, with not a piece of salt on it! I wouldn’t give you a plugged nickel for anything boiled, would you?”
The old lady didn’t wait for an answer. “… I used to love my crackers and buttermilk, or my buttermilk and cornbread, in the afternoon. I like to smash it all up in my glass and eat it with a spoon, but you cain’t eat in public like you can at home, can you?”
– Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, Fannie Flagg.