photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
ravenoaks | profile | all galleries >> DEEP IN THE HEART OF DIXIE tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

DEEP IN THE HEART OF DIXIE

ALL PICTURES AND COMMENTS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE COPYRIGHTED BY DON SCHULTZ

Jeff Foxworthy, a popular country comedian, has based a career on that now familiar phrase, “You know you are a redneck when,……………..” as in, “You know you are a red neck when your porch collapses and six dogs are trapped.” As Sara and I travel down the East coast from Maine to our winter destination, Naples, FL, we often notice little things that would answer a similar rhetorical question, “You know you are in the Deep South when……” The reminders begin in Virginia, subtle and seldom, and become more obvious and often as we travel through North Carolina, South Carolina and enter Georgia.

We are now in Savannah, GA, which has been described by some as the “bosom” of the Old South. This beautiful antebellum (before the war) Southern city was first laid out by James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733. Savannah is famous for its perfect grid pattern of streets, with 24 public squares spaced evenly and forming the heart and the soul of the Old City. Towering live oaks with swaying manes of Spanish moss line the streets. Savannah boasts one of the largest National Landmark Historic Districts in the United States, featuring buildings that are fine examples of Federal, Italianate and Victorian architecture.

Savannah has a harbor wharf on the Savannah River where one can still see ruts in the cobblestone pavements where carts were used to load and unload the thousand pound bales of cotton on to waiting ships. From the Cotton Exchange on the Upper Factor’s (buyers and sellers of cotton) Walk’ one can see the nearby steeple of the Independent Presbyterian Church, which was featured in the “Forrest Gump” movie. The rooms in the upper levels of the warehouses have now become modern condos for which there is a ten year wait.

During our travels through Virginia, North and South Carolina and now in Georgia, the signs of being in the “Deep South” are everywhere.

First is the sheer number of churches. Our GPS unit has a feature which allows one to find nearby stores, restaurants, gas stations and public buildings. When one punches in churches, and scrolls down, we have often found over 20 churches within a 30 mile radius. At times there seems to be so many churches that one wonders, if they are all tax exempt, how the state can collect enough money to survive. The names cover all the letters of the alphabet from African Reformed to Zion Lutheran with heavy emphasis on Baptist. Catholic churches are few and far between. And talk about a long church service!!! We have seen churches still going strong late into Sunday afternoon. People of the deep South take their religion very seriously and you are as likely to be greeted by a parking attendant with “Have a blessed day” as you are with a note of “God be with you” on your restaurant receipt.

Probably no other clue that you are in the Deep South is more obvious than its cuisine. Where else can you get such local delicacies as hush puppies, fried chicken and catfish, pickled turkey gizzards, cornbread, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, or grits at a gas station? Speaking of hush puppies, local folklore has it that during the Civil War, hush puppies, which are deep-fried cornmeal balls, were thrown to nearby barking dogs when Yankee soldiers came prowling near, with the command, “hush puppies”.

As for grits, they are served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even the most fashionable restaurants of Savannah and Atlanta now serve grits. The term grits comes from the Old English “grytt” for bran or “greot” for something ground. Grits on the plate look like a kind of pale mushy oatmeal with flecks of yellow corn bits in them. Grits are made from dry corn on the cob which is treated with baking soda, lime or wood ash. The hulls soften and swell and the kernels are turned into this Southern staple.

It is claimed that enjoying grits is an “acquired taste”, something neither Sara nor I were able to achieve, but I can give one word of advice. Never, never, ever put any syrup or sugar on your grits in an effort to improve the taste. It is the Northern equivalent of putting catsup on lemon meringue pie. As the waitress said to me, “No wunder ya’all don’t like um, darling, ya done ruined um.” I was advised that black eyed gravy or “muddy gravy”, which is made from country ham drippings and cold black coffee, would have been a more “Southern” choice. I tried it on a corner of my now ruined grits and nodded approvingly. “See, I told ya, darling!” was our waitress’s response, proud she had given a Yankee customer a tip for a change.

With so many Southern treats to choose from, including sweet tea with a mint leaf (house wine of the South), lemon chess pie, fried green tomatoes, she crab soup (made from a lady crab with eggs to enhance the flavor), fried chicken and catfish, (notice a heavy emphasis on fried) and chicken pot pie, just to name a few, what to do???? Sara and I decided to eat at the famous Savannah landmark, Paula Deen’s signature restaurant, Lady and Two Sons. When we asked for directions, the lady at the wharf said, “Ya’all jest go down thar, and look far de lines.” Oh, boy, was she right. People line up for reservations for a noon luncheon at 9:30 AM and most evening spots are gone before you think to inquire. We returned the next morning early and through a complicated reservation system with a pre meal pep rally led by one of the cooks, we stood across the street and waited for our name to be yelled out. We were luckily seated at a downstairs window table. The restaurant is three stories high. The complimentary appetizers of fried cornbread and cheese puffs followed. Sara had the chicken pot pie and I tried the buffet. We drank several glasses of Sweet Tea and marveled at the number of times some patrons went to the “all you could eat” buffet. Paula Deen cookbooks, aprons, spices, and memorabilia were for sale everywhere. We actually met one of the two sons, but Paula failed to show during our meal. We longed to hear her trademark, “How’s yo momma”, “Well, bless your little old heart” or “Y’all come back!” But it was not to be. We left thinking that we would never eat again and didn’t for about 24 hours. We still aren’t that hungry. One final observation about food and Southern cooking. People of the Deep South do not like to be advised on how to barbeque meat, particularly from a Yankee. I know from experience. And the there is a good chance the sauce will be yellow not red, so just “hush up and enjoy”.

Another sign that you are in the Deep South is the size and frequency of the flea markets. In the North we call them garage sales, and they are staged in the driveway of your house. Here they are a cooperative effort, usually held on fair grounds or in specially built facilities that look like long, narrow warehouses. You can buy everything from used household goods to fashions. There are puppies of dubious pedigrees for sale. Sara tried to buy them all before she came to her senses. You could buy dolls, rocks, jewelry, health insurance, fishing gear, perfume, leather goods and, believe it or not, your own grave stone for $300, engraving not included. The flea markets are packed, particularly on weekends, and it appears there are no restrictions on who can be a vendor. You just pull up, open the trunk of your car and grab a table. A trip to the Deep South would not be complete without a visit to the local flea markets.

To borrow a page from the script of Jeff Foxworthy’s nightclub act, here are a few other observations we made that you are in the Deep South.


You know you are in the Deep South ………

When the air conditioners are almost as big as the houses. (By the way, Southerners don’t like to be reminded how humid it is.)

When every highway, bridge or overpass is named after a local hero with two word names like Billy Bob or Mary Sue…….

When most of the trees don’t lose their leaves in the winter and most of the birds have very long legs.

When ladies don’t sweat in the summer but “glisten”, and the first cold snap is anything below 70 degrees.

And finally, You know that you are in the Deep South when wearing a T shirt with a picture of William Tecumseh Sherman on it will give you “no more chance of a getting out of town alive than a kerosene cat in hell with gasoline drawers on”, my absolutely favorite Southern expression.

We also enjoyed the beauty of the Deep South outdoors. We stayed at Santee State Park south of Columbia, SC and canoed the primitive swamps of the Congeree National Park. Sara saw pileated woodpeckers several times and claims to maybe sighting a ivory billed woodpecker. Well, probably not as they are claimed to be extinct since the 1950's and only recently sighted by the experts.

The people of the South above all are proud of their history, culture, cuisine, and traditions. Who else could refer to the Civil War as “as that dreadful, unfortunate misunderstanding?” We have enjoyed our brief visit and have developed a better understanding of and appreciation for the Deep South.


previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 ALL next page
INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH SARA CLAIMED IT WAS MUSTY BUT WE WILL GET IT AIRED OUT....
INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH SARA CLAIMED IT WAS MUSTY BUT WE WILL GET IT AIRED OUT....
THE FAMOUS RESTAURANT OF PAULA DEEN...WE SAT IN THE FIRST WINDOW TO THE LEFT OF THE DOOR
THE FAMOUS RESTAURANT OF PAULA DEEN...WE SAT IN THE FIRST WINDOW TO THE LEFT OF THE DOOR
THE LINES FOR THE NOON MEAL STARTED AT 9:30 AM
THE LINES FOR THE NOON MEAL STARTED AT 9:30 AM
SARA CONSIDERED A NEW HAT FOR OUR MEAL AT PAULA DEENS-DECIDED IT WASN'T HER
SARA CONSIDERED A NEW HAT FOR OUR MEAL AT PAULA DEENS-DECIDED IT WASN'T HER
VIEW FROM OUR TABLE AT THE RESTAURANT
VIEW FROM OUR TABLE AT THE RESTAURANT
SARA ORDERED THE FAMOUS CHICKEN POT PIE FEATURED IN ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
SARA ORDERED THE FAMOUS CHICKEN POT PIE FEATURED IN ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
THE PIE WAS SOMEWHERE UNDER THE TOPPING IN A POT
THE PIE WAS SOMEWHERE UNDER THE TOPPING IN A POT
DON OPTED FOR THE BUFFET
DON OPTED FOR THE BUFFET
DON'S BUFFET PLATE-OH MY GOSH.........WHERE DO YOU BEGIN....
DON'S BUFFET PLATE-OH MY GOSH.........WHERE DO YOU BEGIN....
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN, STEAK STEW, GRITS, BLACK EYED PEAS, SWEET POTATOES, SOUTHERN BEANS WITH HAM.........NO CALORIES HERE
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN, STEAK STEW, GRITS, BLACK EYED PEAS, SWEET POTATOES, SOUTHERN BEANS WITH HAM.........NO CALORIES HERE
INTERIOR OF PAULA DEEN'S LADY AND TWO SONS RESTAURANT
INTERIOR OF PAULA DEEN'S LADY AND TWO SONS RESTAURANT
APRON ON SALE AT PAULA DEENS
APRON ON SALE AT PAULA DEENS
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 ALL next page