If Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to eating, summertime is a whole season revolving around the same act.
We know that food is one of the most important aspects of a culture. In my opinion, you don’t really know a culture until you’ve tasted it.
Food is essential for any society, but it is a focus for Southerners. As in all other things, we have our quirks and favorites when it comes to our foods.
Let’s face it: some foods are just so inherently summer-ish, they conjure up visions of lightning bugs, humidity-ravaged hair, and Old Navy American flag T-shirts. The following 12 summertime staples for any Southern table will having you looking like…
1. Tomato Sandwiches
Are you a fan of the simple life? If so, you’re probably from our neck of the woods.
There is nothing so beautiful as the delicious, yet no-fuss nature of the tomato sandwich. Wondering if you have what it takes to create this delicacy? The must-haves are as follows:
- Much of the South is partial to Dukes
- Salt and Pepper
- A “kitchen sink” tomato (it’s so juicy you must eat it over the kitchen sink)
Want to get a bit fancy with it? Here are a few optional add-ons:
- Cheese (must be Kraft American Singles. Is it really cheese? Does it really matter?)
Peaches: the Show Pig of the South, the Great Gemstone of Georgia, the Prime Produce- there simply are not enough compliments I could offer this summer treat.
If you’ve only ever had peaches from a grocery store, I pity you. Peaches are best when they are fresh and never frozen.
I’m a purist when it comes to this fruit- I eat my peaches straight from the tree.
Whether you favor grilled peaches, peach cobbler, peaches in milk, or peaches on cereal, the possibilities here are endless. However, perhaps the most popular mode of preparation is…
3. Peach Ice Cream
Yes, I understand that I already named peaches. However, anyone with a pulse can tell you that homemade peach ice cream deserves special recognition.
I could describe it, but sometimes, the English language can’t captivate the beauty of a thing, and this is one of those moments. Just know that this dessert is creamy, sweet, peachy, and a sign that God truly loves us.
Forrest Gump was a picture of Southern hospitality as he tried to share this sweet treasure with others.
Squash is like a good vacation in a faraway land: it’s great, but it sure is a lot of trouble to get there.
There are numerous ways to dress it up (casserole, grilled, etc.), but the best way is simple: cut up a coupla’ Vidalia onions, toss ‘em on in, and sautee the stew out of them.
A little rule of thumb: If it is still yellow when you finish with it, crank up the heat and throw a little more bacon grease on it.
It shouldn’t resemble the color of raw squash, trading its striking yellow coloration for a brown hue that looks like high blood pressure.
5. Onions, Cucumbers, and Peppers in Vinegar
Don’t knock it til you try this easy, yummy dish.
When your garden is looking more like Eden than Middle Georgia, time is of the essence. After all, those summer veggies won’t pick themselves.
Just don’t forget to add a little sugar to the mix. Trust me: when it comes to eating, I’m a professional.
6. American Flag Whipped Cream Pound Cake
This is a mouthful to say and eat, too!
Is your 4th of July table complete without a pound cake fashioned after the American flag with blueberries and strawberries? This dish takes patriotism to a whole new level.
7. Ribs and Barbeque
The pig is a hallowed creature here in the South, and not just because someone in the family tree showed them during their stint as a 4-Her.
There is something so inherently Southern, so inherently right, about the smell of a slab of ribs or Boston butt sizzling on the grill. If the smell is yummy, the taste is a downright religious experience.
Every family has their own tricks of the trade when it comes to the BBQ sauce, but no matter whether you favor a sweet flavor or more vinegary flair, your summer BBQ just won’t be complete without…well… the actual barbeque.
8. Corn on the Cob
A friendship with a local farmer is your key to the very best corn you could ask for- something Wal-Mart simply can’t deliver!
Corn on the cob is a great addition to your cookout feasts, and it will look positively resplendent beside the aforementioned ribs and/or barbeque.
Grill it, boil it, or roast it- all three ways share the second place trophy for this veggie. We all know that the best (and only!) way to serve it for Sunday dinner is fried.
This makes your momma’s commands to “Eat your greens!” delightful, rather than dreadful.
10. Peas and Butterbeans
You put them up last summer, and your forethought sustained you through the tough winter months. However, the time has come for more picking, shelling, blanching, storing, and eating: the peas and butterbeans have finally made their appearance.
Whether your preferred type is pink eyed purple hulls, cream-40s, or regular old butterbeans, the summer is yours, and all types abound!
Say a special prayer for those family members who’ll revisit the familiar fight on whether or not salt belongs on watermelon.
Me personally, I’ll be in the corner of the get-together thinking that this is a disgusting fruit, no matter how you dress it up.
Do we necessarily like the taste of Coppertone? Heck no. But, when you taste it, it hurts so good, as you know you’re in the best season of the year.
Can’t nobody lather up a child like a Southern momma, so don’t even try crying and writhing because the lotion is too cold.
We come with our faults, quirks, and everything in between, but at the end of the day, if nothing else, we know our food.
No matter what on this list (or off of it!) you prefer, as long as you live in the South, I would be willing to guess one thing about your meal: it will be seasoned with gnats.
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