>How my heart indulges upon itself the soulful and salty cuisine of the Deep South.
Now, coming from South Mississippi — I know the difference.
Yeah, there’s the chicken fried chicken [that’s right, chicken fried chicken], mashed potatoes and gravy with the canned green beans cooked with a few pieces of limp bacon [’cause you gotta get that flavor out of it..]
There is a difference between ‘southern cookin’ – as I’ve grown to call it, and ‘cajun/creole’. You could safely label both “comfort food”, but beyond that, there’s a difference, not that it’s of any importance.
You eat what your momma cooks. My mom wasn’t a huge fan of creole, albeit my dad was and he cooked it good. I think the spice of cooking came from my dad and the heart came from my mom. She cooked to feed her children. Even if that was chicken nuggets with mac n’ cheese, she knew it would usually keep us quiet and smilin’.
The reason I suggest this difference rather than leave it be is because when I’ve traveled up North and to where I live now, many people associate Southern Cookin’ with creole and cajun – and granted, that’s a huge part of my tradition, but was not nearly what I was fully raised on.
Heck, some of the best restaurants here in Portland are New Orleans themed. One of my favorites being “Eat: Oyster Bar” only a few minutes’ drive from where we live – the menu holds rice dishes like seafood gumbo, shrimp etouffee and jambalaya – also, “Hoppin’ John”, which is black eyed peas, miscellaneous veggies stewed with hambones (oh my guh’ness, Praise Jesus. A thing of beauty!)
But, my favorite dish thus far at Eat is the Debris Po’boy. Basically, it’s a big pot roast on bread. A Sunday “after-church” meal in a sandwich. They cook it till it falls off like, well, debris. They soak the shredded roast beef in its melted fat and other ‘good fixins’. They serve it on a toasted french bread roll, along with tomatoes, cajun mayo, pickles and cole slaw.
Half the bun is already soggy as it reaches your table with juice from the roast that just rolls down to your elbows forcing you to look like a fool while makin’ sure none of that gravy goes to waste.
What to drink with such a meal?
Luckily, Eat serves Abita. That’s right – my favorite microbrewery of the South based in Abita Springs, Louisiana. I started getting into beer with Abita’s “Purple Haze” – a raspberry wheat beer which has a purple tint, giving it its name.
I’m a firm believer that most music sounds better while drinking Abita Amber – crisp with notes of caramel, like most amber beers. So refreshing.
I haven’t always been a fan of Abita’s Turbodog – I always saw it as a pretty stout brew until I moved to Oregon and realized they don’t serve anything less than…well, really strong.
Now, Turbodog is becoming one of my most favorite brews, straight up. Brewed with Willamette Hops just down the road. A taste that seems to go full circle.
Now, Eat is what it says…an oyster bar – but there’s this problem. I’m not a huge fan of oysters…but I’m learning. It’s a texture thing for sure, but it doesn’t mean they don’t do em’ good here. Fresh and local. It don’t get no better. 😉
When I was a kid, I would throw tantrums about red beans and rice night. Sometimes, it would be okay because mom would buy Popeyes chicken to go with it…and that would suffice.
These days, beans and rice is one of my favorite meals…and I’ve wanted to turn it into a Monday tradition like it is in New Orleans. Yeah, I like that idea. [As I think to where my crock-pot would be..]
Basically, “Eat” has it goin’ on.
Po’boys, fresh oysters, fried pickles and okra with freezin’ cold beer. I mean, really?
Just remember to spend the rest of the night drinking water or else you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with that infamous salty parched throat.
Goodness Gracious, what joy is found in a good meal, made with good ingredients by good people.
I walk away not only with a full belly, but with a full soul and that my friends, makes all the difference.