Category: Southern life

Sweet Sounds from the Street


Street music can be really sweet music.

The other day, my wife and I took the MARTA to the Woodruff Center for the Arts here in Atlanta, where our granddaughter would be singing and acting in a series of fractured fairy tales as the culminating activity for her 2-week performance camp at the Alliance Theater.

Now just outside the Arts Center MARTA station sits a brightly decorated piano, which is part of a summer exhibition at the nearby High Museum of Art. Any passersby are encouraged to stop and play, something I had done on a few occasions.

Emerging from the MARTA station, I heard some emotion-filled music. Since we were early for our granddaughter’s performance, I stopped to listen. After several minutes, I approached the pianist, complimented him on his playing, and asked if we could chat.

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Finding a Meal with a Side of Romance at the Waffle House

Dixie has always demonstrated a dichotomy when it comes to its men and romance.

On one hand,  you have the chivalric, courtly charms of the Southern gentleman as embodied in such characters as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. On the other end of the Southern male spectrum, you have your bromancing, baseball-cap-wearing, fast-car racing, beer guzzling, gun toting redneck with a nickname like Gunner or Bubba.

For example of what we mean take dining. The first type of man can often be found eating on exquisite China in expensive, jacket-required, urban restaurants. The second type usually frequents the numerous diners and dives that dot the South’s highways and rural roads.

Of course, when it comes to romantic settings with a culinary focus, the upcoming Valentine’s Day and its dining is in a class by itself. Now what if you could bring together all the best elements of both elegant eating and diner dining for that special woman (or man) in your life?

Well, you can. For the 9th year in a row, Waffle House – one of the South’s most iconic eateries – will be rolling out white or red table cloths, lighting truckloads of romantic candles, and offering specially tailored menus for its one-of-kind Valentine’s Day experience.

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It’s Always Warmer in the South

During this Presidential election year, we are being bombarded with the results of polls, surveys, and group interviews.

So, in that spirit of questioning, I decided to find the answer to a question that is, at least to me, much more interesting than what stand should we take on relations with Liechtenstein. My query: Are people in the South really more friendly than those in the North?

We’ll begin by establishing my credentials to conduct such a survey. I feel I have much credence as a judge of things Northern since I lived for 55 years in New Jersey (albeit it was in the southern, not the northern, part of the state), 4 years just outside of Philadelphia while I attended Villanova University, and 4-and-a-half years in an extended staycation in Washington, D.C.

I haven’t lived as long in the South. In fact, as I write this article, I have only been a resident of the Atlanta Perimeter for 52 days, 11 hours, and 22 minutes (and 5 of those days were spent on a Rock Legends Cruise with Greg Allman in the Atlantic Ocean). Now while I realize that amount of time doesn’t make me an expert on all things Southern, I believe it is sufficient for the purposes of my study.

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Okra: Love It or Leave It?

While the phrase “meat and three” might confound a Northerner, a Southerner would know immediately what you are talking about – an entree of a meat dish (usually fried, barbecued, and/or smothered in gravy) with 3 side dishes, often accompanied by cornbread and sweet tea.

Of course, there are many southern side dish options – red beans and rice, grits, butter beans, greens, and creamed corn just to name a few. But just like the Civil War once divided the country, the relative merits of one Southern side dish often splits eaters in today’s South. And that love-it-or-leave-it-off-the-table dish is okra.

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Speaking Blountly, Always Leave Room for Pie

Can a book talk make you hungry?

Well, if it’s the recent food forum featuring noted Atlanta chef and former Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie discussing Roy Blount Jr.’s new book Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations with the author, the answer is yes.

If you’re not familiar with Blount or his work, think the regional wit of Mark Twain or a more historical, but none-the less hysterical Dave Barry.

The discussion was held in Blount’s hometown of Decatur, Georgia, where Gillespie operates Revival, one of his two wildly popular Atlanta-area restaurants.

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Chewing Down on Hamburger Week

I realize when I started Southern Roots Run Deep, I promised that if I wrote about food it would have to be southern. But this was just too good an opportunity to waste.

The magazine Creative Loafing, along with the Georgia Beef Board and Caviar, was sponsoring Atlanta Burger Week, an event where almost 40 dining establishments would be offering a specific hamburger of their choosing for $5.

Now while hamburgers aren’t southern in origin, they are always in competition with hot dogs for the title of the all-American sandwich and the South, at least since 1865, has been part of the United States. In addition, hamburgers are on the menu at Waffle House and nothing is more southern than those eateries. Finally, hamburgers can be drastically altered by applying condiments. So you could southernize your burger by using any combination of such things as fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, fried chicken, Georgia peaches, Texas barbeque, or Louisiana hot sauce. With all these things in its favor, I felt I could participate in Burger Week and justify writing about it.

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