This is not any kind of aspirational lifestyle blog. I am smart enough to know that no one aspires to my life, and if they do, they probably need the help of a licensed therapist. However, I pass along, for your own consideration, a few recommendations based upon my rediscovered Southern lifestyle. I haven’t realized how much I missed living outside of the South until I realized how much I love many of the following things. I then realized, I am not meant to live anywhere else.
Southern Periodical Reading:
Garden and Gun: I am no Southern sportsman, but I love this magazine that is published every other month. I even get enjoyment out of their Sporting South blog. Maybe it is because I love that many of the hunting and shooting activities also involve so many of my favorite dog breeds that I talked about in my last post. It just so happens that the lifestyle promoted in this magazine, from the food, travel, and style pretty much overlaps with my own current tastes and preferences. Sign up for their Talk of the South weekly emails for great updates about the latest Southern cultural goings-on. Also, if you haven’t yet checked it, you really need to check their most recent Best of the South playlist.
The Oxford American: This periodical is subtitled “The Southern Magazine of Good Writing,” but don’t let its title fool you. It is not published in Oxford, Mississippi, but in Arkansas. Nonetheless, it does feature great stories and great writing. The most recent issue is the 12th Annual Southern Music Issue, and featured music from Alabama. It is generally great, back porch reading.
Bearings Southeast: I just learned about this lifestyle “guide” for Southern men. I am not a Southern man, of course, but for some reason, I pretty much love this blog/online magazine. I subscribed to it for David (they send you a new guide every Thursday). So much that is devoted to Southern women seems really insubstantial, or focused solely on the domestic arts. This probably explains why I never have felt entirely at home in the South, because I know quite well that I do not fit the Southern ideal of womanhood. I have no desire to join the Junior League or the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I like the outdoors; I like the substantive academic discussions; I want to sit in rooms of old leather and wood-paneled bookshelved walls. Why can’t I have all that and enjoy wearing my dresses as well?
I don’t mean specific restaurants. There are too many of those to list. Rather, here are a few things that make eating in the South even more enjoyable:
The Southern Foodways Alliance: The SFA is based at the University of Mississippi and is devoted to using food to tell the history of the South as well as preserving Southern food’s cultural significance (You can read their full mission here). The first time I attended a Potlikker Film Festival in DC, I was hooked. If you want to understand how important food is to Southern culture, then watch any of their documentaries. Also, just follow their recommendations for confirmed good eatin’ locales all across the Southeast.
A Southern Season: This is my favorite store in Chapel Hill. Two weeks ago, when I had a pork tenderloin recipe that called for sorghum molasses (which is very, very different from your typical cane molasses sold in grocery stores), I knew exactly where I should head. This store has pretty much everything you could need for Southern cooking short of selling whole hogs.
One of the nicest things about being back in the South, is enjoying the much longer growing season. Farmers markets begin earlier in the year and last later into fall in the South than anywhere else. It is becoming easier and easier to really enjoy local foods in the South, more so than in any other part of the country where the climate and soil is less hospitable to an array of vegetables and fruits. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly easier in the South to purchase meat and dairy products directly from farmers. There is no part of the country that is better to live for the farm to table lifestyle. In Northeastern cities, the food has to be trucked in from much father outside of the city than it does in the South. In the West, farms rely on heavy irrigation dependant on years of water misuse. Even in the winter, you can still enjoy the rewards of Southern farming through products like Carolina Plantation Rice. You may not know that what made Charleston and lowland planters so rich wasn’t cotton or tobacco, but rather, rice. If you want a taste of what makes lowland rice still so delicious, order this.
Of course, these are just my current favorite parts of the South. Next week, I am bound to have a whole new mental list.