I got a letter from Mona, who writes: “Sean, will you write more about food? It makes me feel better during these scary times.”
Mona, as it happens I am looking at a cookbook right now. The cookbook I am holding is old. It is every hometown recipe book you’ve ever seen. Spiral bound, thick, stained, and there is a sketch on the cover featuring stately oaks draping over a shaded street.
Inside are the four gospels: church food, wedding food, funeral food, and congealed salads.
You won't find many things holier than these recipes. They are American history, described in standard measurement form.
I once knew an old Sunday school teacher who made buttermilk pie that made grown men loosen their neckties. Once, at a Fourth of July supper, she gave me a slice and told me:
“God wants all his children to be a little soft in the middle.”
And I’ve always believed that.
This particular cookbook I am holding, however, comes from the Brewton Civic League. The recipes within are everything you need to find
a happy life.
Cheese grits, Squirrel D’ete, Congealed Cantaloupe Salad, mint juleps, Miss Paula’s pickled shrimp, and Coca-Cola salad—whatever that is.
None of them use the word “margarine,” but “Oleo.” And in this book, you will also find the secret to perfect fried chicken—peanut oil and Jesus.
You will discover that measurements are open to loose interpretation. A “handful” here, a “passel” there. A “dash,” a “pinch,” a “dusting,” or a “touch.”
Also, there are a dozen variations of chicken-broccoli casserole. Though, the only discernible differences are the varying amounts of cheese.
In this book you will find the exact deviled eggs approved by the Methodist church.
But anyway, I have a long history with homemade cookbooks. In fact, the article you’re reading was typed on a manual typewriter that once typed a similar cookbook.
Many moons ago, I typed 418 recipes…