Friday, May 1, 2009

Southern Style.....

We have visited the Southern United States several times over the past 27 years. It still amuses me every time we come here. It is a fantastic part of our country, but there are certain aspects of the South you won't find a lot of other places. One thing is a given...most of the people are wonderful, warm, hospitable folks that love to have you visit their cities and states. We have particular fondness for a few things the traveler can find here in the South. Here are just a few of them:

At some grocery stores and open market places you can find things called, "side meat", "fat back", and "pork jowls". We found all three right in Salem, Virginia at the local Kroeger Market. These delicacies are not refrigerated as they are packaged in vacuum sealed pouches. Sounds yummy. I know "fat back" can be used to season vegetables while they are cooking, but "side meat" and "pork jowls" I'm not sure about. My cousin in Virginia doesn't use any of that so she could not tell me too much about these items. Check it out if you go to West Virginia or Virginia.

The Waffle House is a chain of funny little restaurants. They are all over the place in the South. While we were driving South on I-75 through Georgia there was a Waffle House at EVERY SINGLE exit for over 50 miles. We love to eat at a Waffle House. We have been to some of them over the years that were pretty yucky looking but lately we have found them to be clean and more appealing. They are usually very small buildings with a counter service available and maybe 10 booths. The waitress will take your order and then stand to the side and call it out loudly to the cook. The cook stands right behind the counter and cooks in front of the guests. Watch out for an item called Country Ham. If you have a sodium problem...this is not the side order for you !! Another thing I always look for when we travel here is a Piggly Wiggly market. The name just cracks me up. They are nice markets, a bit on the small side, and fun to shop in. Here is a photo of the Piggly Wiggly in Unadilla, Georgia.
Also, it just ain't right if you live in the South and you don't have rocking chairs on your front porch! Here in the South they do a lot of front porch sittin'. Any town you drive through will find many folks just kicking back and relaxing in the warm weather on their porches. As you drive by, many will give you a friendly wave.

Have you ever heard of Kudzu? It is present and thriving in every Southern state. It covers over 7 million acres in the Deep South. It is a lovely looking vine that was brought here from Japan for the purpose of erosion control. They didn't know what they were getting with this one. It is invasive and out of control and it apparently can't be stopped. It can grow up to 1 foot per day in the sunny summer weather. It is dangerous because it grows on anything and will cover complete trees, killing them by blocking out all light. It chokes the life out of anything in it's path.

Here is a big growth of Kudzu growing up and over these trees and shrubs.

Here is some more Kudzu growing up the trunks of these trees in Florida.

Some other funny things about the South:
1) Any type of RV here is called a "camper". It doesn't matter if you have a pop-up tent trailer, a travel trailer or a million dollar motorhome....they will call it a "camper". So don't be offended if you have your expensive 5th wheel or motorhome called a camper. That's just the way it is.
2) They sell fireworks here all year long. There are huge stores just selling fireworks. I've never been able to figure out why folks need to have fireworks all the time. Isn't the 4th of July enough?
3) Everything is fried in the South. Enough said.
4) In Virginia they will say "cut out the lights" when they want you to turn the lights off in a room. They don't say turn off the lights. How did they get the phrase "cut out the lights" exactly? I don't know.
5) "Will you carry me to the Piggly Wiggly?" That is another funny little word they use...carry....where they mean "take me". Remember in the movie "Driving Miss Daisy"? Daisy would say..."Hoke, I need you to carry me to the Piggly Wiggly in town". People are always asking if you'll carry them somewhere.
If you get the chance to visit the South, do it. You'll love it. It is a very unique place.

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