My simple definition of food snobbery: Refusing to even try or consider trying a particular fruit, vegetable, regional or local dish for any reason at all. If you are a food snob, let me help to set the record straighter on a couple of things:
Sushi versus Chitlins
I went to a Sushi restaurant in Japan once where there were a bunch of fish swimming happily together in a huge tank. We ordered and the next thing I know, the chef is screaming like a ninja and grabbing a live fish out of the tank and flinging it down on the table in front of us. When he pulled out a cleaver and hacked the head off right in front of me, I almost fainted. Needless to say, I didn't eat sushi (or much of anything else) for a while. Chitlins on the other hand are quite civilized by comparison. I have seen them being cooked before but that is it. Chitlin preparation has the good manners to stay out of the public eye as much as possible.
Grits versus Polenta
Grits and polenta are the same thing. If you let your grits simmer too long and they get really thick, you have made polenta. In Northern Italy, where polenta is a staple dish, it was first made when maize or corn was brought there by explorers. It is cooked down more than grits, but there is not much difference except for the seasoning and serving methods. Of course, grits can be pretty bland and boring if you buy those wussie white ones at the grocery store or you don't know how to cook them. I buy stone ground, organic yellow corn grits. Fortunately, I do know how to cook them (Granny taught me) and mine are delicious.
Livermush versus Blood Sausage
Do I even need to explain this one? Yes, I guess I do.
Livermush is decidedly Southern and Blood Sausage is decidedly disgusting.
Livermush probably had its origins with German settlers to the Southeastern areas of the US from Pennsylvania. Blood Sausage never quite caught on here in this area although I understand it is popular elsewhere. My best friend growing up moved to the US from Europe and we helped her mom to make BS at their house once. I repeat, ONCE. And I never ate any that I am aware of but sometimes when I ate dinner at their house, I was a little confused as to exactly what I was eating.
Okra versus anything
I already wrote an entire blog entry about okra, so refer back to that post from August 16th, to read up on okra. One quick note about okra: it is NOT indigenous to the Southern US (it just loves our climate); it is native to Africa; is an edible hibiscus; and is eaten all over the world.
Caviar versus Catfish Roe
I have eaten caviar once or twice myself, but don't remember particularily liking it. It tasted a little fishy. And speaking of fishy, there are people willing to pay $50+ an ounce for Beluga caviar yet look down their noses of folks who catch and clean their own fish and eat the roe. Joke is on them. Back in the late 1990's, the FDA busted a caviar "importer" who had been packaging and selling catfish roe as Beluga for years. Took DNA testing to determine that the roe in question was not from sturgeon, but in fact from the lowly Ictalarus punctatus or the common channel catfish.Nobody noticed the difference because, lets face it, who eats caviar on a regular basis? Do you know anyone who does? Neither do I.
Cow Peas versus English Peas
Cow Peas- A drought tolerant and warm weather crop, cowpeas are well-adapted to the drier regions of the tropics, where other food legumes do not perform well. It also has the useful ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its nodules, and it grows well in poor soils with more than 85% sand and with less than 0.2% organic matter and low levels of phosphorus. In addition, it is shade tolerant, and therefore, compatible as an intercrop with maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton. This makes cowpea an important component of traditional intercropping systems, especially in the complex and elegant subsistence farming systems of the dry savannas in sub-Saharan Africa. English peas are just a cooler weather, slightly different cultivar of Fabaceae or Leguminosae, or the legume family. There is nothing sophistocated or gourmet about English (green) peas. In fact, if you compared the common field pea grown in the South to the English pea, the English pea is by comparison a thin and pale relative, as far as adaptability and usage.
Water Cress versus Creasy Greens
If you ever watched the Dobie Gillis show back in the 60's, you most probably remember Mrs. Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., Resident RB&S, who was forever giving parties where they served watercress sandwiches. This is probably about the silliest food affectation I know of, in all of my culinary experience. Watercress on buttered slices of bread with the crusts cut off was supposedly the height of snooty cuisine. Somehow the idea of a weed that grows along the sides of the road, in ditches where there is standing water pasted onto a tiny piece of white bread doesn't really impress me all that much. And why couldn't they even have a "big boy" sandwich with the crusts still on...did those rich people have weak choppers or just still long for mama? I don't get it.
I don't remember my Granny even planting "creasies", a delightful little spicy, edible green plant, but she certainly got excited once it showed up in the corn field in the fall. It grows in a rosette, kind of like arugula. Today, you can buy creasy green seeds (Upland Cress is how it is sold) and plant some for yourself, but in the foothills and mountains of NC, they were/are considered a wild, uncultivated food, not to be taken for granted. I think maybe planting creasys would not set well with some old timers. Creasy greens are cousin to watercress and the name "creasy" is probably an Appalachian mispronunciation of cress. They are peppery and add a little spice to other greens.
There are lots more foods I could mention, but my fingers are tired and I have to go feed chickens. My break is over and I need to get back to some real work. Hope you enjoyed my little tongue in cheek (Really? Maybe.) missive today.
Margaret Mead said it:
EARTH DAY draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth as seen from space appropriate."
That is the Earth Day I celebrated. What happened? Last week I heard an ad for an Earth Day Celebration at a water/amusement park in the local area, inviting everyone to come to the park to celebrate Mother Earth. Yes, let's drive our cars, make more trash, waste water and pay our money in celebration of Mother Earth. I just don't get it.
Don't you think Mother Earth would be better served if that amusement park hadn't covered her face with asphalt. Maybe if they had left the trees and plants? What if all the wildlife that lost their habitat had been left unmolested? That sounds like a celebration of our Mother to me.
Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of having Earth Day if you have to drive your carbon footprint to get the the celebration???? Shouldn't Earth Day be about staying home and taking stock of all the blessings that our planet bestows on us every day, not just on one day in April?
I guess, as with every other holiday we have in this country, somebody has found a way to make money from Earth Day, so the true meaning has pretty much flown out the window for most Americans. If you would like to read about what the original intent and purpose of Earth Day really was, you can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day .
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with big, beautiful blue eyes. She had a very big heart and was touched by things that other people seemed not to even notice. She sometimes dreamed that animals would come to her in the woods, that birds would fly to her and that rabbits would eat from her hand. Once she found a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. She tried to put it back but it was too hurt and it died in her hand and she cried for days. The girl wanted the world to be a place of only love and happiness, where people and animals all lived together peacefully and nobody was ever mad or upset with anyone else.
She told lots of people about her dreams but most everybody laughed at her or told here that she was wasting her time wishing for things that would never happen. Even though her parents loved her very, very much, they, too, discouraged her from thinking that such things were possible. This seemed very confusing and strange to her, but, since people she loved and trusted told her that her dreams were silly, she tried to stop thinking too much about them. Because her parents, her teachers and her friends all wanted her to stop acting foolishly and be like everyone else, she settled into being the girl that everybody seemed to expect her to be. But the more she tried to be good, the more it seemed she struggled. All around were people who wanted to push her this way and that way and to make her believe in things that she had never even thought about before. Sometimes it made her angry and sometimes it made her scared, but mostly it just made her sad.
As the girl grew up, she began to forget about many of the things that she had dreamed of when she was a little girl. Still, sometimes she would have wonderful dreams about the birds and animals and she would awaken with her heart full of love but it never seemed to last very long.
She grew older, as is the way with such things, and the girl became a woman. She married a man that she loved very much and for a while they were very happy. Then one day she came home to tell him the most wondrous news, that she was going to have a baby. She was filled with such a glowing inner light that she was almost ready to burst at the seams. But when she told the husband the wonderful news, he glowered at her and told her she had tricked him and stormed out of the house. It was the first time she had seen him so angry and it hurt her so much that she cried and cried. When her husband came home, he was distant and cold and something had changed in him. He stopped telling her that he loved her and her heart was broken in two.
For many years, the woman and the husband continued to live together but their love was never again like it had been in the beginning. For years, because he felt guilty about breaking her heart and he tried to make it up to her but she could tell that there was always something inside of him that he held back and didn't share with her. This made her feel very bad and she was very, very unhappy. She tried many times to talk to him about what was wrong but their conversations always turned into bitter arguments, with accusations and hurtful things being said and so she stopped even trying.
Then, one day the woman came home and the husband was gone. He had moved away and left her alone with their children. He simply left her a note that said he was sorry but he had to find the life that he wanted to live and he wished her well and hoped that she and the children would be okay. She loved her children very much and she knew she had to be strong for them but still something inside of her just broke. She thought back to when she was a little girl and how she had wanted the world to be filled with love. What a joke! All love had ever gotten her was a broken heart and many, many tears. Everybody had been right. And so, she made a wall around the hole in her heart to keep the hurting inside. She didn't realize that it also kept love from getting in.
After the husband left, the woman threw herself into her work and her children. Everything that she did was for them. She knew that she was doing the right thing and she was proud of the fact that everyone praised her for her selflessness and dedication. Yet even though on the outside it appeared that things were very good, that place in her heart was cold and numb. She could still feel the ache of it all the time. She tried to fill the empty place with other things, things she had to buy. Only the more things that she acquired, the more alone she felt.
Early one morning, the woman was standing in her bedroom, admiring a new outfit in the mirror. As she stared at her reflection, it all began to blur and suddenly, before her eyes, the little girl she had been once was staring back at her. The little girl's big blue eyes were no longer beautiful, because they were filled with so much pain and sadness. Then, in an instant, the vision disappeared and she was again looking at her own reflection. When she looked at it this time, she saw something completely different and she knew what she had to do to set her life right again.
Almost immediately after seeing this vision, she made a plan. She talked to both of her sons and it was decided that she and the younger one would take a long trip. The older son had his own life and was happy, so she knew that he would be fine while she was away. Her family and friends didn't understand why she was going away and she gave them no reason. She just said good bye to them all.
She and the younger son drove a long, long way, across the country and they saw many wonderful things together. It was the first time in many years that she felt truly free and happy. As they drove across the country, they shared many hours of conversation and companionship. Even though she had been a good mother to the boy, she had never really spent time like this with him and it was glorious! The trip eventually took them to a very beautiful place. On a lonely beach, with the ocean wildly crashing on the shore, the wall around her heart shuddered and she felt something give a little in its foundation.
In this beautiful place, she met an even more beautiful man who had the same blue eyes as she. And when she looked into those eyes, she could see into both of their souls at once. He had come to the wild place with a heart full of his own secrets. But he was a magic man , who could ride the wild waves or go flying over them. He showed some of his power to the woman but never told her his secrets.
The woman would sit on the beach and watch the man and her son together and she knew peace for the first time in many, many years. After a while, she became friends with the man and they spent many hours talking about things that she hadn't talked about in a very long time. It made her feel good to know that there was someone else who believed the same things that she believed in and who didn't think she was foolish. Then one day, he told her of his own broken love and she truly understood how he felt. Deep inside of her, that cold, numb place in her heart was filling with warmth and the wall was becoming weaker and weaker.
The man and the woman became lovers and for the first time in her life, she felt what it was like to love a man without reserve. Even though she had once loved the husband, there had always been something between them that kept her from feeling completely free in her love. With the man, it was different, perfect. Everything they did felt like pure joy! From an accidental brush of the fingertips to a lingering gaze, a tremor of love would course through her that was unlike anything she had ever experienced. Their connection was so deep that she began to feel like she was part of him and that he was part of her, that their souls were linked in some unexplainable way. She knew that the man was special because he would show her a little bit more of his magic every day and she began to have magic of her own again. In time, her dreams came back to her.
For many years, the man and the woman lived together, first as lovers and then as husband and wife. There was something else unique about the man, besides his magic. He always told the truth, even if the telling of it was not always so kind. She loved him for his intelligence, his honesty, his gentleness and his strong heart. She always felt safe with him and most importantly, really and truly loved. She tried hard to be a better person because knowing that if someone as special as the man loved her, then she needed to be the person who deserved that love. It was hard for her sometimes, because she did not possess the same kind of magic as the man and sometimes she would fail. He laughed at her trials and at her frustrations, but never in the way of malice or derision, so that she knew that even in her weakness and failure, he loved her still. Her
heart was so filled with his love that the last of the wall crumbled into dust and she felt its weight no more.
One day the man became very ill and the woman was beside herself with grief. She screamed and cried that God could not be so unfair as to take this good and gentle man away from her. But her cries to Heaven did no good. She decided to put away her selfishness and wished only to make the man happy but she didn't know how to go about doing it. Everyday, she tried to think of ways to bring some joy into his life, but failed at every attempt and she grew weary with the trying.
The man, too, was very sad much of the time and his pain began to take a toll on him. His face became pale and gaunt, but no matter how much he suffered, his clear blue eyes always shone with his love and the woman took heart in the fact that the man loved her still. She could not take away his pain but she could give him all the love in her heart, boundless and complete. The joy of her boundless love did make the man happy and they spent many hours in simple contemplation of that love.
For a long time, the man was sick and no matter what anyone tried to do, he began to fade away.Even with all the magic he possessed, he could not stop the disease. One day, when he knew that his time was growing short, he called the woman to his side and told her once more how he loved her, how they were one and the same and how they would be together always, if not in this earthly realm, then in the next one. They both truly believed that they were soul twins, destined to be together through eternity and linked forever and ever and she took her comfort in that.
His love had made her whole and complete and she was afraid she would be lost without him. She cried and cried when he finally left her but that place in her heart, the one that he had healed with his love, was bursting with warmth and light, like a tiny sun inside of her. Her grief overwhelmed her at first. The grief and pain was greater than she had imagined it might be. Soon, though, she came to realize that his magic was now inside of her and she knew that everyone around her could see his light shining through her, for all the world to see. She was again filled with his love and grace and vowed to live happily ever after, until they would be together once again.
(This is my own true love story.)
Dedicated to my sweet husband,
David William Ballard
December 15, 1959 - March 24, 2010)