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Sweet Tea and Grits
By: Jack Severens


I moved to North Carolina from California in July of 2006 and I must say that I am growing accustomed to the food in North Carolina.  For that matter, I’m growing period, but that is beside the point.

Let me start out with sweet tea because that is the most glaring contrast.  I have so say NO ONE drinks sweet tea in California.  They may drink green tea which may have a hint of sweetness to it but that is nothing compared to North Carolina sweet tea.  I know this one very southern lady, we’ll call her Miss Rebecca. And she refuses to give soda to her kids but she will let them drink loads of sweet tea.  The funny thing is that her sweet tea is filled with caffeine and she loads it up with lots of sugar.  The irony of that makes me smile.

Then, of course there’s fried okra.  You know, had I known about fried okra I would have moved to North Carolina a decade earlier.  But, se la vie.  I lost 10 years of Okra existence.  You would be really hard pressed to find fried okra in a restaurant in California.  Well, let’s put it this way: I lived in California for over 40 years and I never saw fried Okra in a restaurant.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention grits.  They simply don’t have them in California.  And I don’t know why not.  I mean, after all, they have oatmeal.  Maybe it’s the name.  GRITS.  It just doesn’t sound appetizing.  But in all actuality they are pretty appealing.  They may even be healthy.  I haven’t researched it.  They certainly taste healthy.  Of course, if you slather them with butter I’m sure that it subtracts from some of the nutritional value but it sure does make it taste yummy .  And isn’t that what it’s all about after all?  Making things taste yummy?

You know, as much as I like most of the North Carolina cuisine (or should I say grub?)  I don’t seem to get the fried fish thing.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like a slab of greasy fish as much as the next guy but at most restraints that’s the only choice when you’re talking fish.  Now fish is quite delicious served other ways.  My favorite is fish cooked on a barbeque or broiled fish or even pan fried fish in a little butter with maybe some capers or a light lemon glaze.   But, I have to take the good with the bad I guess and if I can get my Okra I’m willing to make some sacrifices.

Ok, this one is nothing less than a crime that they are not served in California.  Two words.  Hush puppies.  Are you kidding.  These little things are the food of the gods!  I learned where the term came from last week.  Should I share?  Okay.  Well about 100 or more years ago the southern home kitchens were often separate from the main house and the maids or kitchen staff would have to transport the prepared food from the kitchen building to the dining room.  The dogs outside would get pretty excited about the food as it was being transported.  So the kitchen staff would throw to the dogs little fried pieces of dough in order to “hush the puppies”.  And thus the term.

 


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Sweet Tea and Grits
By: Jack Severens
   
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