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My first job was as a bagboy at the Piggly Wiggly in Raleigh, NC. I was 16 and needed money for my new hobbies: drinking and driving. The job was perfectly suited to my talents, placing a variety of different shaped objects into a paper bag and lugging them out to cars. For this, I was paid $1.25 an hour plus tips, which were generally a quarter. I loved the people working there, with one exception: the produce manager was to this day the worst letch I have ever met. When an attractive woman was checking out, he would pretend to drop a pen so he could bend down and look up her dress. Class act. Even as a sixteen-year old with a budding interest in the subject, I found his hobby repugnant. I witnessed the end of his avocation when the cashier motioned to a young customer to look […]
Back in the days of the old Nashville Network on cable TV, I was backstage at Ralph Emery’s “Nashville Now” show when an unexpected treat arrived: a planeload of shrimp. It had been sent up by the owner of the Flora-Bama Lounge, a classic Gulf Coast beer joint on the Florida-Alabama line. It would be an understatement to say that a great feast was had by all, including the crew of the show, some songwriters who happened to be hanging around and one fairly hungry newspaper reporter. Here at likethedew.com, we haven’t yet received a planeload of shrimp from the Flora-Bama, but an unexpected treat did arrive this week: some virtual refreshments sent by an illustrator in northeast Tennessee, James Noel Smith. These virtual refreshments were so good that we’re also sharing them with our readers. Just look at the illustration and enjoy. (Fortunately, this refreshment, unlike most, is calorie […]
Okay, it’s true. About the time of the birth of LikeTheDew, I set out to write a series on Southern funeral foods. So, my timing was off. I failed to realize that the blossoming dogwoods and their blanket of snowy petals would elicit thoughts of life, rather than death. It was spring, after all. Still, I persisted in sharing at least a couple of funeral food pieces. Then came the azaleas and daffodils, and their explosions of rosy pink and yellow. (My near-sightedness automatically turns all floral landscapes into splendid impressionist paintings.) The violet hydrangeas have blossomed on our balcony. Our basil, chives and Meyer lemon trees are basking in the sun. And, as I see from my window, the steady stream of picnic baskets in-hand headed to the park, I am convinced to postpone the series on food to die for. I offer this confession, despite my firm belief […]
Georgia is squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to milk production, but that’s good enough for a festival. The first Saturday in June marked the 50th year of the Putnam County Dairy Festival, held in Eatonton, the birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker, 78 miles east of Atlanta. What struck this first-time visitor was farming’s low profile at the event. Corn dogs and $7 turkey legs were easy to spot, but good luck trying to find a milking demonstration. Maybe that’s as it should be. Georgia’s milk output — 1.36 billion pounds a year — seems like a lot until you realize 24 states produce even more. Since 1945, the number of Georgia dairy farms has fallen from more than 6,000 to 270. On the upside, the 21st century cow is more productive. And even though Georgia lags the national average in per-capita milk […]
Ssshhh. It’s a closeted secret that I’m willing to share. It’s sweet; it’s sublime, and it’s a little scary sounding. Still, it’s worth repeating. In fact, it’s worth repeating every year in order to supply your winter dishes with an infusion of summer savor. Is this a pantry or a wacky Victoria’s Secret? Okay, so it’s actually a fairly well known, so-called secret, that Vidalia onions can be “socked” away in panty hose and preserved for months on end. This is an idea that makes me giddy from the tips of my toes to my control top. Despising the very idea of pantyhose otherwise, I’m thrilled to provide these relic nylons with purpose beyond snarling and gnarling up with one another in wait of walking somewhere important. It’s sheer delight to put “sheer vitality” to work providing a vital task. Nothing Beats a Great Pair of L’eggs That is, unless […]
As I walked around Lake Claire, the little village of fisherpeople, artists and activists where I live, early on Tuesday morning, I noticed something: No shrimpers were out in their yards mending their nets. As those of you who have visited Lake Claire know, there could be many reasons for that. (You are, as always, free to offer your thoughts in the comments section below.) But when I returned home and looked at the calendar, I had my answer: The Georgia shrimp season had officially opened at 6 that morning. The French have Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the third Thursday of November when the latest bottles of the most popular vin de primeur are rushed to the markets. The closest thing we have here in Georgia is Shrimp Season Opening Day (although I have heard some people say that in Atlanta every day is an Opening Day). When the season starts, […]
Much to my surprise, I’ve noticed every once in a while that not everyone agrees with everything I write. Stunning and hard to believe for the rest of you, too, but sometimes true. For once, however, I’ll just throw out a few opinions that are really beyond argument on a few of Atlanta’s best culinary treats (if culinary can be used when you’re talking about such things as fried chicken and country fried steak). I’d love to hear about other superlatives in local kitchens, not only in Atlanta but all over the South, so this is an invitation to any foodies out there who want to tell others what you think. And, oh, yeah, even though I know I don’t really need to say this, if you disagree with these choices, let your voice be heard. Five Atlanta bests: Fried chicken: The Colonnade. Period. Some people think the Colonnade on […]
I sit at my home-office desk working, but looking for any distraction. It is around 3:30 pm. Kids are streaming back into the houses around the neighborhood as I look up from my laptop and stare out the window to avoid the mind-numbing job at hand.
Warning: If Jamie the chef comes out of the kitchen and asks if you want to hear a pirate joke, just say no. Otherwise, you’ll hear something like this: “Where does a pirate go when he wants a drink?” “To a BAHHHHRRRR.” Trust me there are many more pirate jokes where that one came from. But if Jamie is not quite ready for prime time on Comedy Central he could definitely hold his own on the Food Network. St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast is blessed with several very good restaurants. I strongly recommend Crabdaddy’s, which has the best selection of non-fried seafood on the island, and Barbara Jean’s, which tends more toward home cookin’ but has excellent crab cakes and fried catfish. But my favorite island restaurant by far is the Blackwater Grill, where Jamie Cadden is the chef. Owned by islanders John and Rhonda Howton, Blackwater offers […]
With meat loaf, the starting point should always be the finest in ground beef. And I shouldn’t have to tell you that. That last statement was delivered with an all-knowing sneer. My friend Carl LaFong, gourmand and self-appointed culinary expert, had decided to depart from his usual attempts at haute cuisine and prepare that staple of 1950s American dinner tables, meatloaf. The catalyst had been a discussion (argument) about the origins of middle-class American dinner basics. Meatloaf, LaFong had opined, was only a variation on French country pate. And, prepared with care, ingredients selected carefully, it could be an elegant addition to anyone’s table. I was doubtful, since my Sunday-dinner background included a multitude of meatloaves assembled with the idea of stretching ground cuts from the butcher’s scrap pile into service for eight. Meatloaf studded with very visible wads of lumpy white bread. Or large flavorless mounds with the volume […]
There is no drawl, no dripping molasses, just the occasional expanded vowel when John T. Edge talks. This is more about verbal cadence. The tempo of his talk lulls one to listen more acutely in order to separate his “lyrics” from some imaginary chorus of cicadas that set his conversation to music in your mind. John T. Edge is an eater, writer, educator, and a Southern gentleman. The gentleman observation is of the highest order, as it seems to permeate everything about him beginning with his speech, which is eloquent and smart, yet easy. He is polite, and not in a suck-up, I-learned-this-at-prep school fashion. Rather, one gets the sense that his manners are so innate that he actually acquired them the old-fashioned way – from his mama, at home in Clinton, GA where he grew up. So, how might his brand of gentility manifest in today’s fast and interactive […]
I love to cook, so we don’t go out to eat very often, and when we do it is usually for some special celebration or the unexpected guest arrives. Lately when eating out, I have noticed a couple of trends in the menus of restaurants that have caused me some concern and by raising the flag here, may perhaps derail before they move any further down the track of acceptablility. The first trend is that of infinitesimal type-size on the menu. Even when I take my reading glasses into the restaurant (which I must wear to read almost anything other than a good book), the florid descriptions of gastronomical wizardry are difficult to decipher without the aid of a magnifying glass approximately the size of the Hubble telescope. One recent visit to a local eatery found my party seated outside well after dark at a table with soft candlelight. The minutes ticked by […]
I was prepared to believe the financial unpleasantness was ending. But today I got bad news. The Ga. Pig Real Pit Barbeque in Brunswick announced at lunch they had no Brunswick stew. I reeled. What? The man behind the counter muttered, “We’re waiting on the lady now.” He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He said I could have potato salad or baked beans or Cole slaw. A barbeque sandwich, even as exquisitely as they make them at the Ga. Pig, is incomplete without Brunswick stew. How could they be out of Brunswick stew in Brunswick? All morning I’d been listening to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke pronounce the economy might not wreck after all. And the radio news said the swine flu might not kill us all. I strode with confidence into the Ga. Pig. If swine flu showed up there they’d kill it with smoke. It’s a house of […]
When people start talking about Southern cooking, fried chicken is sure to come up. But, lately, my taste in chicken has been running a little farther South. Every week or two, I like to stop by Las Brasas, a brightly painted hole-in-the-wall in Decatur, Georgia, and pick up one of their Peruvian-style rotisserie chickens to take home. Las Brasas translates variously as “hot coals” or “flame-grilled,” and the chicken it serves has a distinctively smoky but juicy taste with hints of wonderfully mysterious spices. You can buy a whole bird for $9.99, a half for $6.99 or a quarter, which runs $3.99 for dark meat or $4.99 for light. When you order and are asked whether you’d also like hot sauce, be sure to say yes. The salsa de huacatay, a green sauce made with peppers and a minty herb known as huacatay, is not burn-your-mouth hot but it has […]
Item from the newspaper: Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was seen dining with Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the Peasant Bistro in downtown Atlanta. One thing you can say for sure about our mayor: She has good taste. The Peasant Bistro is a new choice on my personal list of Atlanta’s best restaurants. In the downtown area, it is now the best choice for eating out. Located at 250 Park Avenue West on Centennial Olympic Park, the Peasant Bistro has been celebrating its first year anniversary all this month. The restaurant describes its menu as “fresh, seasonal cuisine with country French and Mediterranean influences.” Those are reliably good influences. I have no idea what the mayor ate on her visit, but I’m willing to bet it was good. On my most recent visit to the Bistro, my entrée was the best duck I […]
If you were to ask a bunch of Yankees what the official food of the South is, they would no doubt say fried chicken. I would have to agree that despite regional preferences for dry or wet barbeque, country ham or chicken fried steak, on the whole, the meat mascot of Dixie is surely a succulent piece of poultry fried to a golden brown. The same Yankee respondents in our poll could be asked about what our preferred cocktail is, and just as likely, the answer would be the Mint Julep. However, with this I must take issue. First, let me present my credentials. I was born in Charlotte and raised in Birmingham, Richmond and Memphis. Except for a brief period overseas, I have lived in Atlanta for the last 30 years. Therefore, I consider myself a semi-pro expert on all things southern. Yet in all of those years, I […]
When Kathlyn Pattillo graduated from high school last year, her mother, Katy, asked that instead of giving a gift we older and wiser types would write down some words of advice. Little pearls that would guide her through the treacherous waters of the freshman dorm and on into the mainstream of life. I had a hard time thinking of anything that didn’t sound like those sappy graduation-day platitudes (Be true to yourself. Follow your dream. Blah, blah, blah.) until I slapped myself on the forehead and came up with the only tidbit that might be useful: Learn how to make a good grilled cheese sandwich and you’ll never starve. It’ll nourish body and soul. And it’s really cheap besides. When I was a kid in the 1950s, grilled cheese was a slice of American cheese on squishy white bread, buttered generously and toasted to gooey perfection in a well-seasoned iron […]
Good Grief: Southern Funeral Foods continues with more recipes and stories.
As a child the funerals were mysterious things. I never understood the camaraderie, the laughter and guffaws. And how on God’s earth could they eat and drink and carry on the way they did, ‘specially when somebody had died?’ I’d tiptoe among the adults, periodically bear-hugged by a distant great aunt, who’d say, (between bites of a cheese biscuit), “Aren’t you Jack and Mary Ellen’s baby?” I would nod, dodge their eye contact and chafe at the idea of a twelve year-old baby. I’d barely make my escape before, once again, I’d find myself pressed against the lavender scented enormous bosom of another aunt who was sure to inquire, “Aren’t you hungry, sweetheart? There’s plenty. Go over there and get yourself a piece a that pie your Aunt Millie always makes. We wish she’d make it at Christmas ‘stead of waitin’ for somebody to die.” Nary a morsel of that […]
Every spring for the past 41 years, the sleepy Southern fishing town of Darien, Georgia, has come alive with the three-day festival for the Blessing of the Fleet. Darien, with a population of around 2,000 people, is the second oldest city in Georgia. It was founded by Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders — led by Lachlan McGillivray and Lacklan McIntosh — in 1736 near the site of an abandoned British military outpost, Fort King George. Formerly one of the largest ports for shipping lumber, it has been a center for fishermen since the early 1900s. Once famous for its oysters, it is now best known as a shrimpers’ paradise. Darien’s Blessing of the Fleet is believed to have originated when Portuguese fishermen moved to the area and brought the tradition with them. It is generally considered to be the largest ongoing festival of its kind on the East Coast. Activities at this […]
Should have certain ingredients from certain places. This is the reason that my grocery shopping is never a simple task. I go to multiple stores, multiple websites and multiple cities for what I consider to be the best of the best.
Ode to the Onion, May We Weep with Joy Vidalia, I a-peel to thee, oh Georgia’s springtime fruit, Thou art our southern soil’s most sublime root. Rescue my hors d’oeuvre from meager acclaim Then save my salad from wilting shame. Please deliver my soup from an ordinary fate And emancipate my entrée from a banal plate, For thou art nature’s way of marrying discreet, The opposing flavors of bitter and sweet. Join my recipes for all to savor Your layered sweetness and piquant flavor. I believe a Vidalia onion can make most anything good, so I’m pleased to report that it’s almost crying time again. My beloved tearjerker, the genuine jewel of South Georgia will hit the shelves and roadside stands anew in just a few weeks. I’m preparing for the 2009 Vidalia introduction by re-visiting a favorite recipe that has always pleased friends and family. A delightful, Southern woman […]