* music by Savannah's sweetheart, Johnny Mercer *
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Sometimes I daydream about what my life would be like had we not ended up in Ann Arbor. Some of it's good, some bad. There are so many things about AA that I love, but I think often about the romanticized version of living in the south.
In order to partially prepare me for this weekend that my family is spending down south, I've read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Sure, it's fiction, but as I see it, if I'm romantically involved with the fictional south, I might as well solidify the myths. It's a decent movie based on a great book, based on a real life story of a Savannah scandal. A large part of the plot of this book is the parties thrown by Jim Williams in the Mercer mansion, catered by the famous Lucille Wright with decadent spreads of low country food.
My affections for Savannah are partially grounded in my latent desire to be a daughter or granddaughter of Paula Deen. It's not that every recipe she makes on her show is fabulous, or that she's not annoying once in a while. From her TV personality (because I'm not naive enough to think there's not another one) she seems like the kind of woman that anyone would want to be nurtured by. I missed out on the whole grandmother experience, never meeting either of mine. As a result, I often covet the idea of having an older wiser stronger woman, slightly removed from disciplining you, but close enough to guide you and love you with a fierce maternal love. For some reason Paula Deen strikes a cord with this internal desire. But before this turns into a self-psychology blog, I'm going to turn back to the food.
I love the decadence of southern food and what I perceive to be an unabashed connection between food & socializing and comfort. Up north, food had its times when it was emphasized, but I didn't quite get the feeling that social gatherings revolved around food in the same way that I think they do in the south. Perhaps in certain ethnic settings, like with my Italian relatives, food was an axis, but it wasn't culturally accepted as a whole. When I think of hospitality, I think south. And I like to think that I've been establishing these "southern" traditions with my own family, some very literal, like always having simple syrup in my fridge to sweeten iced tea, to the more abstract, emotional connections with food.
This weekend, my family is going from Charleston to Savannah, hitting a few family destination spots, but equally important will be the times when the six of us sit down to eat a meal. My kids are psyched for the biscuits and grits, and so much more. We might try to do the Deen place, but even for my fictional grandmother I will not wait four blocks and 2 hours, so we'll see. We've got several other places in mind, some which are a bit out of reach with four little ones. On a large scale my goal is simply to eat as many southern cliches as possible in the next four days.
Please indulge me as I use this as a bit of a food diary for my weekend. Indulge and drool.
~ signing out from my hotel room with a pitcher of iced tea