It's Valentine's Day (happy day of love to all of you out there!). While some might consider this a "hallmark holiday," Southerners celebrate it the way we do most any other holiday or special occasion....with food!
In the South, sharing food together is considered our love language. The art of preparing creamy, comforting casseroles, whipping up a big meal of eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits, or baking that special someone their favorite sweet potato pie, nothing says, "I Love You," the way we Southerners can through our food.
It's why our most memorable moments are filled with our favorite tried-and-true, passed down through the family recipes. Mostly, these recipes aren't even formally written down, rather they're shared while laughing across the table. (A perfect example of this is Dolly Parton's Steel Magnolias character, Truvy, sharing her "Cuppa Cuppa" recipe at her beauty salon).
Or, the recipes are cherished and protected, kept inside a faded recipe box, index cards splattered with bacon grease and smudged with butter. Family feuds have broken out over who gets to keep Nana's coveted pound cake recipe (which, it turns out, was really Southern Living's all along).
And while maybe not featuring the healthiest of choices, there's a bonding experience that happens in the South over food. Heaping mounds of macaroni pie pair perfectly with conversations about who's football team recruited better for the upcoming season. And even the most heated of discussions can be mollified with a slice of Derby pie topped with vanilla bean ice cream (homemade in the summer, of course).
In the South, we're known for our biscuits and gravy, our pimento cheese spreads, our barbecue. We buy cream-of-anything soup in bulk, because you just never know when you're going to need to whip up some chicken and dumplings. We swear by Duke's mayonnaise and crushed up Ritz crackers. We grow up eating tomatoes off the vine in the summer, and canned green beans in the winter.
We insist everyone will feel a little better if they have just one more helping. And we make sure to have plenty of Tupperware containers to send friends and family home with leftovers.
To us, food is more than just a meal, it's how we show our love for one another. On this Valentine's Day, we hope you're lucky enough to be surrounded by people you care about - and if you can't be near them, we hope you're able to take time to call (yes call!) to tell them you're thinking about them. And while you're at it, send them a piece of pound cake.