Food Porn

1 05 2008

In the last few days, as the community has been celebrating it’s annual flower festival, I have gone to several events where there has been an overabundance of food.

As I am a fan of food, I dig this.

Now this isn’t of the vein of what you might be thinking. We are talking country cooking with recipes handed down for generations and it’s been amazing.

Monday night, there was a tasting where hundreds of people showed up for a nibble of dozens of dishes and there was a luncheon with judging yesterday. Corn casseroles, green beans put up fresh last year from private gardens slow cooked for hours, meringue piled high on a variety of chocolate and coconut pies, berries piled high on homemade pound cake and dressing from several different people all adorned long tables. Waldorf salads, tomato dishes, canned pickled okra and slow cooked tenderloin marinated in basil all set waiting for those of us who attended. We were like zombies waiting for brains and you couldn’t help but drool a little bit as you stood in line waiting to pile your plate high.

And a country ham smoke and cured for two years that was such a salty delicious treat that my tongue exploded in my mouth (and I’m sure it taxed my heart.)

It was that good, campers.

The most curious thing about the food is that it continues today and tomorrow in several events and it’s all made from recipes that were never written down but were instead taught to some of these women (mainly it’s older women who provide these delicacies) while standing in the kitchen with their mothers in a time where ingredients for dishes came from the family farm.

As it is a rural festival, there is the judging of baked goods with the winners smiling softly that they knew their dish was a hit in their home but is given validation with a blue first place ribbon.

Bragging rights is what it’s all about.

My mother was a baby boomer and she had her feet planted in both worlds of cooking. Those recipes where she and her mother would work in the kitchen together, talking about the events of the day while using what they had available.  They could cook the best fried chicken ever. Homer and I have tried to recreate this (me, of course, under Homer’s wise supervision as I can’t cook) and it cannot be recreated. She could also prepare some exquisite veal scallopini and chicken marsala that would make your eyes water.

But this post is about the hidden world of southern cooking where dishes aren’t made with cans of Campbell Soup but with the embrace of history. As I said, there are no recipes to follow, these dishes haven’t been documented on paper but instead it’s an oral history of food.

And so when I see these women fussing over their dishes, I can’t help but smile to myself because it is their art which will never hang in any museum but art is is.

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3 responses

1 05 2008
Chris

This one made me smile. So well I remember standing in the kitchen with my mother while she created the world’s best yeast rolls and plum cakes and chicken and dumplings.

In the past few years the girls have really gotten interested in how I do our lasagna and chicken spaghetti and stuffed peppers and chicken and dumplings and my world famous potato salad…the heavy hitters from Mom’s Kitchen. I hope they remember and I hope they pass them down to their kids.

Great entry. It made me hungry.

1 05 2008
scoutabout

Yes!! I love it!!
And I’m also looking forward to the cousins of the festival cooking — the quilts and flowers.

2 05 2008
Meredith from Merchant Ships

Oh, I just loved this post. It really spoke to my heart.

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