This is a story about Southern Cooking...
Again this year, my dear friend and colleague
of twenty-two years, Lynne Hale and I made the
same New Year’s Resolution that we have
been unsuccessful in accomplishing in years past.
We resolved not to burn the midnight oil at work
one night a month and meet at a restaurant to
have a good meal and conversation about life,
love and the pursuit of happiness outside our
respective jobs at Lucasfilm. Lynne was born and
raised in Roanoke, Virginia, and we share the
same affection for Southern cooking.
Much to my delight, the first dinner opportunity
arose when I received an invitation to attend
“A Southern Winter Dinner with Scott Peacock”
at Chez Panisse on a Tuesday evening in early
January. Scott is the Executive Chef at Watershed
Restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. The restaurant
is the collaborative creation of Scott and Indigo
Girls’ Emily Saliers with three woman partners.
It specializes in seasonal Southern cooking.
The moment we arrived at Chez Panisse, we were
greeted by Alice Waters, the founder and co-owner
who is credited with single-handedly creating
a culinary revolution in the United States. I
said, “The reason Lynne and I’ve come
tonight is that I’m writing a new book,
GROWING UP SOUTHERN – Stories from the Attic
of Childhood Memories, and this is a research
I explained that when my mother died seven years
ago, her recipe box had disappeared, either stolen
or lost at the Senior Citizens’ Home where
she was living at the time. “I want to put
myself back into the culture of the South through
the palette of Southern cooking.” Alice
said, “Come with me to the kitchen; you
have to meet Scott.”
With gracious hospitality, Scott welcomed us,
and I told him why we’d come. “GROWING
UP SOUTHERN is about family, food, sex, guns and
rock-n-roll.” He replied, “Well, it
has to be about sex if it’s about the South,”
and I assured him that it was.
Scott is the co-author, with Edna Lewis, of The
Gift of Southern Cooking. Together with Miss Lewis,
Scott has helped restore the veritable traditions
of Southern food. That night, he surprised everyone
before the meal by serving warm “boiled
peanuts” which traditionally are sold in
a small brown paper bag at roadside stands throughout
the South. I was in hog heaven.
For dinner, Scott served oyster stew with biscuits
and country ham, a butter lettuce salad and deviled
eggs, pork shoulder braised with port wine, and
Miss Lewis’s greens with hot pepper vinegar,
whipped sweet potatoes and black eyed peas, along
with fried hot water cornbread. The meal was finished
with mandarin and buttermilk sherbets with pomegranate
compote and “Cat’s Tongue” cookies.
It was a three hour culinary delight, and by
the end of the evening, Scott had generously offered
to help me with recipes for GROWING UP SOUTHERN
that would be similar to Mother’s.
In April, my sister, Kitty and I are going back
to North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to finish
up the research for the book. We’ve revised
the itinerary from Raleigh to Swainsboro to include
a stopover in Atlanta to have a meal with Scott
at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur. We’re
eagerly anticipating eating a little bit of everything
on the menu.
Another New Year’s Resolution that I made
was to complete the manuscript for GROWING UP
SOUTHERN by the end of this year, and I’ve
gotten off to a good start.