Archived Stories
from the Road

 


 

Southern Cooking
Introduction

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 project.”

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.

 

 
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