I have a confession to make.
Actually, I have several confessions to make, most of which will make the Governor of All Things Southern come to Minnesota to strip me of my Southern Belle card.
No matter what, these confessions have to be said, and said openly, so that I can be on solid ground with my failings.
Acknowledgement is the first step, right?
So, I know y’all think that I’ve got this Southern thing down pat, but in reality, I don’t. I put on quite a good show where I can, but I have a few areas that I gloss over so as to appear a little more Southern than I really am.
- I don’t like sweet tea. Not even a little bit.
- I don’t care for anything à la mode. Especially pie.
- Pecan pie has never been a draw for me. As a matter of fact, the world would be a better place without it altogether.
- I cannot stand fried okra. Or black eyed peas. Or anything ending in “greens”, i.e., collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, etc. No, no, no, no, no.
- I’ve never met a catfish I liked.
- Banana and pie should never be used in the same sentence.
- I can’t keep a garden alive to save a life. Really. You’d better pray that your life never hangs in that balance. You’re a goner within a few weeks, and I’ll have guilt on my head. So do us all a favor and don’t put yourself in that position.
- I haven’t a clue as to how to make BBQ ribs from scratch.
Whew. It feels good to get those off my chest! (I’ve locked the door, moved into the “panic room” and hid my Southern Belle card in a place where no one would look for it unless they want to be slapped. A good Southern gal is always prepared.)
That last one really got to me the most. Growing up in the South, good BBQ is an essential for quality living. And I never learned how to make it because, like most good Southerners, we went out for our BBQ at our favorite spots or at some local business that may or may not have something to do with food – every Mom & Pop business had a smoker in the back and made great BBQ. Why make it when it’s been sitting in a smoker, just waiting for you to come pick it up?
Number 8 also got me because I was standing in front of a cooling case at the store, staring at a bunch of baby back ribs that were on sale at an incredibly low price.
For the love of all that is good and holy in this world, why do I not know how to make BBQ ribs?!
I was berating myself quite soundly (yet silently in my head – I didn’t need anyone to toss me out of the store on my ear because I was acting like a mad woman and scaring the customers), lamenting this great void in my Southern upbringing when a man stood next to me and said, “Isn’t that a great deal? I’m going to stock up! My neighbor is smoking some right now and I asked him to make some for me too and I’d go pick up more to replenish his stock!”
Why can’t I have neighbors like that?
Before I knew what I was saying, I voiced, “I know that’s a great price, but I’m embarrassed to admit that as a Southern woman, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with them. When I get them, they’re already cooked and on a plate.”
The man smiled knowingly and replied, “I think I can help with that.” Then he proceeded to give me instructions on how he makes his ribs.
That’s it?, I queried to myself. ”I think I can handle that! Thanks so much for helping a girl out!” I responded with gratitude and excitement as I grabbed two packages and made my way to the front. I was already picturing the feast that would lay upon the table with these babies!
As I prepared dinner, I chased everyone out of the kitchen, telling them that it was a surprise, one that they would really like, but only if they would leave me alone.
It’s amazing how much alone time I can claim if they know that dinner is on the line! They only came in to ask if I needed help (No! Er, I mean, go away please) or to ask if they could set the table. (Yes, that chore I’ll gladly delegate.)
I went all Southern on them and made the ribs (per instructions), filling in the sides with some Jack Stack beans that I had frozen from our last trip down to Kansas City (mmmm-mmm), deep fried french fries (to eat with said beans) and cream cheese corn. Oh, and iced tea.
Hey, I may not like to drink it, but I know how to make it like a good Southern girl should.
The family was extremely pleased with the surprise, and many sounds of delight and satisfactions were heard around the table as the ribs disappeared. I’m pretty sure we ate enough food to last us for the week. (Well, it should have, but my family is sitting about snacking on popcorn as I type. The gluttonous pigs. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to be rolled to bed tonight… and into work tomorrow.)
And I feel really happy because I think I’ve earned enough credit to crawl out of my panic room and to keep my Southern Belle card for a little bit longer…
Well, at least until they find out that I don’t know how to make fried chicken.
Then I’m screwed.