And the letters about the Sept. 2 guest column by staff writer Katelyn Ferral's unhappiness about Southern food just keeping coming:
After reading the guest column by Katelyn Ferral, I feel compelled to defend the Southern culture from another unwarranted Yankee attack. Actually, what I feel compelled to do is correct the egregious misconceptions about Southern food. Ill start with the delusions about the biscuit.
Apparently Ms. Ferral has all Southerners confused with either Bojangles or Biscuitville. The biscuit is not the sun in our solar system -- it is the bread that traditional Southern ladies learn to bake at their mothers' side from early childhood. It is the traditional baked good because it can be made in a relatively short time period and doesn't require either yeast or proofing. The reason we may fill it with meats is the same that induced the Earl of Sandwich to put roast beef in his bread in the early 1700s, convenience. However, it is still just bread and no more served at every meal than sub sandwiches are in Philadelphia or pizza in New York City.
As to her claim that pork chops are a staple for the breakfast biscuit, I can only say that she must be spending too much time at the aforementioned fast food restaurants because I have NEVER seen that combination served for breakfast and my family has lived in the south since the Earl of Sandwich invented his revolutionary food item.
Gray gravy? Really?! No self-respecting Southerner would ever serve a gravy that is gray. Again, reference where she must be getting her southern foods; its apparently not from a true Southern kitchen. Furthermore, Southerners certainly have not cornered the market of gravy on breads. Think chipped beef on toast or google gravy bread and check out all of the offerings listed, none of which have their roots in Southern culture.
Now to the most inaccurate portion of the article: the truly appalling discussion regarding grits is based on an entirely erroneous premise. Grits are not cereal! They are not analogous to cream of wheat or to oatmeal, much less Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats; we would never put sweetener on them. Grits as a side dish are comparable to rice or pasta. Moreover, comparing grits to mashed cornmeal is the same as saying that cream of wheat is mashed flour. Are you kidding me? That said, all of the disparagements regarding what to serve with grits are totally meaningless and merely serve to illustrate Ms. Ferral's ignorance.
Finally, Ms. Ferral closes her opinion piece with the conclusion that she does like something about the food from the region where she has chosen to make her home. She likes sweet tea. Perhaps she is unaware, bu, tea is not a food, it is a beverage. Of course, that misconception is right in line with all the other misconceptions she espoused in that flawed and offensive discourse published by The News & Observer on Friday. It is also typical of the condescending attitude that makes Southerners resent those outsiders whose mouths outrun their brains, bless her heart!
The guest column on 9-2-11 by Katelyn Ferral was insensitive, to say the least. She is entitled to her opinion of foods, but she overlooked a major issue: Food has deep emotional connections. Some foods mean love/home/roots, and the subjects of her ire are some of these. Many North Carolinians grew up rural and poor. Supper may have consisted of biscuits and gravy. The country ham is salty and dry because that was the only way to preserve meats before electricity was available … the iceman did not make house calls outside the city. People tend to eat what is cheap and available. The high salt diet is not healthy in our modern air-conditioned world, but it helped prevent sodium depletion in a hot climate where physical labor outdoors could be deadly.
I would guess that each region has cultural oddities that outsiders might find peculiar, but an open mind about food origins might be helpful to the reporter. Reared by a Canadian mother, I was biscuit-deprived except for yearly visits to Raccoon Valley, Tenn., where my Mamaw served them up at every meal. The cold ones did not last long, waiting in the cupboard to be snatched by grands on the way through the kitchen. My mother-in-law made excellent biscuits also, squeezing perfect lumps of dough between her fingers and nesting them neatly on the pan. I took notes on both these kitchen queens and came up with a reasonable offering. My husband grew up with a slice of tomato in a biscuit. I laughed, but tried it, and became a convert. Our son in Austin, Texas, has made converts to this delicacy with many of his friends there.
Loosen up, Wisconsin. Maybe those frigid winters have caused a brain fart. Many of our snowbird transplants like shrimp and grits. You might even like biscuit and tomato, who knows? WANT A GOOD BISCUIT RECIPE?
Mary B. Slaughter, RN
I feel insulted, frankly, angered, by your guest columnist Katelyn Ferral’s comments. What was the point of this column? Is she trying to be funny? She’s not. I think she needs to do some research about the history of the South and why some foods were created before passing judgment on the foods of the area.
Most regions worldwide have foods that are unique to a particular area, and chances are, they’re not healthy, but they fed families in hard times. Take Cincinnati. Chili over spaghetti? Or Pittsburgh where they put the French fries inside the sandwich! These may sound crazy if you didn’t grow up eating them, but there is a reason these foods are still around.
Maybe she should look at some of Wisconsin’s famous foods. The “Cannibal Sandwich”? (Raw ground beef with onions served on bread) At least we cook our hamburgers in the South!
I’m not even going to comment on her ignorance about shrimp and grits. She’s just lucky that she didn’t write her opinion down in the South Carolina Low Country! If she doesn’t like the foods that fed our region since it began, she doesn’t have to eat them!
It is a shame this columnist did not take the time to do a little research on the foods and the region she ridiculed. Perhaps she thought the column was humorous. Sometimes it is better, as the saying goes, to remain silent and appear ignorant rather than speak and remove all doubt.
Oh, and that whistling sound she is probably hearing are some "big ol' ball of carbs" coming her way. She needs to go back home to Wisconsin, which I imagine is a wonderful place full of wonderful people with tasty regional/ethnic foods.
Your guest column by Katelyn Ferral denigrating Southern food (and by extension Southern people) was offensive in so many ways I don't know where to begin. I can only assume it was the result of ignorance or perhaps bad manners.
Southern food choices developed over time as a consequence of a primarily rural agraian society, where corn was a major source of food for both livestock and southerners. Livestock that could forage, pigs and chickens, were favored.
Who wakes up and wants high carbs and pork? People who will spend all day working outside, farming. They need the calories to make it through the day. All of us may not spend all day at manual labor, but our parents and grandparents did, and their food became our food.
Bratwurst is an OK food, but not nearly as good as a red hot dog all the way. I see no need to make fun of brats, however.
If Ms. Ferral is in fact not ignorant of Southern heritage, then it must be a manners problem. Sorry about that - Our mamas taught us better. She should be aware that the road from Wisconsin runs both ways.
Okay, I'll bite. Some Southern cook was bound to do it. The guest column, "Kiss mah grits" (which seemed anything but pleased with grits - "a flavorless...mash") seemed intent on bashing our biscuits and other main stays of Southern cooking. The harshest insults were aimed at country ham ("it really shouldn't be considered food for humans"), cheesy grits and biscuits with gravy ("who wants to eat soppy bread?").
Oh, honey. Somebody must've eaten a bad biscuit!
Well, in defense of bisuits and gravy, the dense structure of Southern biscuits allows them to take gravy without getting soggy (people around here eat them so fast they don't have time to get soggy) - also, there's always sausage involved, either in or with the gravy.
I don't really know how to explain cheesy grits - they just taste good. Grits, by the way, are not considered "cereal" in the South - it's more like polenta, which is commonly served with meat (even in the North, I believe). Really, I would go so far as to class grits along with mashed potatoes.
Anyway, somebody needs to take this columnist out to Bojangles and show her what she's been missing! They also have great sweet tea there...
My wife and I come from families whose roots in North Carolina go back to the late 1600s. We found the column to be offensive in the extreme. Instead of subjecting a topic the writer knows nothing about to ridicule and derision, I strongly suggest that she educate herself as to why the foods she so cavalierly insulted (and by extension all native North Carolinians) became food staples associated with this state.
North Carolina was settled primarily by English and Scots-Irish who created farms throughout the state where corn was a common crop. When one is hungry, one eats what is available; hence grits. The common farm animal was swine and therefore all parts of that animal that could be eaten were used. Hams were salted so that they would be preserved into the winter as a food source. Since there were no Harris Teeter stores on every corner, one had to create bread as one could using available ingredients; hence biscuits. If you were to attend any function in the home of a North Carolinian, you find that the table dish sought after by all was the "ham and biscuit" because it is a traditional staple. The "biscuit and gravy" (ham or chicken) was also a traditional staple.
I could go on and on, but I'm too polite. I'll close with two thoughts. First, all areas of this country have their traditional dishes handed down from the original settlers of that region. Having lived also in Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, I can assure you that each of them has unusual dishes. The people who live there like them, and it's what makes them "them." For outsiders to criticize is RUDE. Second, go to a good Southern restaurant and try various dishes ... you might be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, for those who have chosen to move to our state: If you do not like our traditional food then do not eat it, but don't look down on those of us who were raised on it and enjoy it.
Friday's Guest Column "Kiss mah grits; is this food ?" was in very bad taste (pun intended.)
Ms. Ferral may have aimed at humor but missed the mark by insulting a culture. I personally don't eat biscuits with whatever, but the origin of biscuits and grits probably stemmed from availability of flour and cornmeal to fill empty bellies during hard times.
My Wisconsin family struggled during the Great Depression, and we ate beans and cabbage, cornmeal with salty milk, lung soup, blood soup, blood sausage, kidney stew, liver and onions and ... boiled tongue.
Instead of mocking other cultures, the world would be a kinder place if we all tried to understand them. I call that a recipe for harmony.
In response to Ms. Ferral's column of Sept 2 regarding inedible Southern food, I have just a few observations.
First, it is obvious that she was not raised in the South. While we are teaching our children to bake flaky biscuits, we are also teaching them to be polite; this does not include belittling another's culture.
Then it occurred to me that since she is so disgusted with our podunk ways, perhaps she should return to the sophisticated Midwest, where it is considered the height of fashion to wear a wedge of cheese on one's head.
Finally, if this leaves Mr. Quarles in need of a guest columnist article every two weeks, I have a cat with more cultural sensitivity than Ms. Ferral. In additon, Sassy will work cheaper - she will accept shrimp and grits as payment.