Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Make You Want To Slap Your Mama

          I read an article today that finally dispelled a myth that many people have about southerners.  For some reason, people link obesity to fried chicken.  Do tell – fried chicken!  The premise was that since southerners are fried chicken connoisseurs, it is a given that more people in the South are obese.  Now I confess we do love to eat.  Many of our social functions revolve around food – church socials, company picnics, neighborhood bar-b-ques, county fairs, and festivals.  We have more festivals than Carter’s got peanuts!  There is the Shrimp Festival, the Strawberry Festival, the Greek Festival, the Chocolate Festival… well you get the idea.   

          I have some friends from South Georgia.  They have a food social that they call a “pig pickin’”.  Now I am “southern born and southern bred” but I had never heard of such.  A few years ago I actually went to a pig pickin’ while on a trip to South Georgia.  The best I can tell about a pig pickin’ is that it has something to do with picking all the meat possible off those baby back ribs.  Well back to fried chicken. Southerners do make fried chicken that’ll make you want to slap your mama.  Please don't be offended by that statement.  That is high praise for cooks down south.  When I was growing up our church sold chicken dinners to raise funds for various needs in the church.  It was given that every southern belle would be able to fry chicken by the time she was tall enough to reach the stove, but for the "industrial size" meals, it was the preacher that cooked the chicken for these fundraisers.  He had a big old iron pot that looked like one of those pots in the movies that was used to mix “witches brew” in.  He would fill that pot with oil to deep fry those delectable pieces of poultry.  People would come from all over just for one of our church’s dinners with chicken, tater salad or cole slaw, baked beans, and a biscuit or roll.  Oh and of course a glass of sweet iced tea!  All my childhood I thought fried chicken was the juiciest meat there was.  I didn’t know that the “juice” was really melted lard!  I know what you must be thinking on the whole health thing. I try to eat healthy myself, but let me just say this.  My Daddy’s mama, my Mama Rich lived to be ninety-seven years old.  She lived on fried chicken, baked cornbread, cooked biscuits, fried okra and squash and every garden vegetable imaginable; not to mention banana pudding, sweet potato or pecan pie, red velvet cake, yeast rolls and apple dumplings.  She had five children so she never wasted one morsel of the chicken - fat and all.  Once we were eating dinner and she was nibbling on a small strange piece of fried chicken.  My brother and my little cousin were curious as to what it was that she was eating.  Well when asked, her reply was “chicken’s butt”.  To this day when I see my brother and cousin at a family function and ask what we are having for supper one of them will reply “chicken’s butt”!  Yes Mama Rich lived to be ninety-seven, was strong as an ox and anything but obese.  My other grandmother, Maw Maw Weeks, is ninety-one is sharp as a tack and still lives by herself and takes care of herself and a home. I can’t really tell her what is or isn't healthy to eat now can I? 

          I suppose I can concede that southern cuisine is a little high in fat and carbs content but that does not make the whole southern population obese at least not any more obese than people from other parts of the country.  Now I know that a picture of Paula Deen holding up a mouth watering drumstick could cause one to speculate that every southerner is coated in bacon lard and butter sticks, but that is simply not the case!  If you saw me at the grocery store, you would see olive oil in my buggy (that is a shopping cart for you non-southerners).  So why in the world has everyone assumed that southerners were more obese than anyone else?  The reason was revealed today in the article that I read.  I’m not one bit surprised at the findings.  The “statistics” were based on phone surveys – people calling up asking if you were twenty or more pounds overweight.  Do you know what the findings revealed?  It wasn't that southerners were more obese than anyone else, they were just more honest.  I have to believe this is about as accurate anything I know.  Why?  Well if you ask Bubba if his better half is obese he’ll say “you bet she is – my woman is a bigun!”  And if you ask Bertha is she is obese, she’ll say “well hun you know I’m a plus sized diva.”  The results of this study concluded that people from other parts of the U.S. just don’t understand the concept of obesity.  When asked about their weight many of them were “fudging” twenty pounds or more in what they reported in the survey.  Bless their hearts!  The truth came out in actual medical studies of people from various parts of the county. 

          You see in the South, putting all the health issues aside, seeing a “plus size” woman or a “big and tall” man, just means somebody’s enjoying life and family.  I can still smell that fried chicken cooking in the iron pot while we kids ran around the church yard and Pastor Taylor laughing at some joke my daddy told him.  In my mind, I see my Mama Rich standing over a kitchen counter rolling out dough, letting it rise, punching it down, letting it rise and punching it down again. It took her two whole days to make those melt in your mouth yeast rolls, but she put so much love into them before every family Thanksgiving Dinner just for the sheer joy of watching us scramble to get a roll or two before they were all gone.  There is something about gathering around the dinner table that is becoming a dying activity.  Not here though.  Our families treasure supper time.  We still have some of those to “die for” dishes that make you want to slap your Mama.  If my grandmama was still here today I’d give her a big old hug instead.

          On that note, it’s just about supper time here…

                                                       Bye bye ya’ll!      

Editor's Note:  Most of you know that I am an advocate of a healthy diet.  Today's "southern moment" was all in fun.  Please do eat healthy and live long! :)