We often like to think of ourselves as individuals who form our own style and persona, but actually our personality is made up of many things. Although we do create some specific characteristics which are truly our own, we also collect some of these from family and friends. We are not born with our dialect or our love for a certain sports team, we grow into these with help from family and peers. One of the most noted characteristics is our taste for certain types of foods. Those of you who were born on the coast have an infinite taste for seafood, if you were born on the border of Mexico, you are an avid fan of southwest cuisine, and if you were lucky enough to be born in the south, well God provided you with not only the most beautiful part of the country to live in, but some of the best food to enjoy while you were growing up.
This is a blessing that I was granted and it has become a huge part of my life. Things like Saturday morning little league football and then watching Georgia on the television. My father was a member of the local Masonic Lodge and coached my little league teams. My mother taught us respect for others and to use our manners when out in public, and as with most families in the south, we were taught to cook for ourselves, and both parents taught us recipes that had been passed down from their parents, and their parents before them. Now don’t think that these recipes have not been slightly changed with each hand down but they still remain as close as they could to the first recipes, and of all the recipes that I was taught my favorites are made when the weather cools down and Fall begins.
Fall leaves on the ground always meant bar-b-que on an open pit, Brunswick stew, chili and haunted houses. Yes I was lucky enough to be raised in the greatest state in the union (my opinion), The great State Of Georgia. I was born and raised in a little town about 20 miles south of Atlanta and as kid I was always excited when fall reared its beautiful head. Although it meant going back to school it also meant some of the best food would soon be on the table.
One of my favorite dishes to make in the fall is Brunswick stew. Although there are many claims as to the place of origination, from Germany to Virginia, all true southerners know that Brunswick Stew was first made on St Simons Island in the late 1800’s. Now anyone can research and find hundreds of recipes for this dish, but for years my family has claimed ownership to the original recipe. Now when the citizens of Brunswick Georgia and the adjacent St. Simons Island first made this dish they made it with the meat they had readily available. Game such as rabbit, squirrel, and even deer was used. Todays recipes are a little more, should we say less gamy, using chicken and often even pork.
I can remember going to the pits, that belonged to the lodge, on Friday night and sitting there while the bar-b-que was being smoked for the next days sale. That is when multiple pots of this delightful southern treat would be cooked to accompany the smoked meat. From the first chicken broth and chopped tomatoes until that bubbling concoction tuned into a mouth-watering manna of vegetables and meat that would feel the heart with joy. The anticipation was as close to that experienced by a child waiting for Christmas morning. Finally, it was time to taste this gift that can only be experienced during a miracle.
Growing up in the south was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I have tasted Gumbo in the Bayous of Louisiana, I have eaten seafood sitting on the Gulf of Mexico, I have eaten pizza in Chicago and even eaten Tex-Mex on the boarder of Mexico. I can truly say that the food made in the south has to be the best food a person can eat.
Mike Cannon - Contributing author
A southern boy, born and bred. He was born in Atlanta Georgia, and has lived in some part of the state all his life. He currently resides in Ringgold Georgia which is a bedroom community to Chattanooga Tennessee. Growing up in the south has given him a unique prospective of the culture and tremendous knowledge of the food that the southeastern United States is so proud of. He enjoys watching the Braves in the summer, the Bulldogs in the fall, and NASCAR in the late winter. He is an avid hunter and fisher. He loves a good party and once you get to know him you have a friend for life. Mike will be a regular columnist on our site, sharing stories about his life in the south, it will be up to you to determine which of these are true and which are simply tales.