Biscuit Appreciation Day

I am in a rundown breakfast cafe. The kind with torn vinyl seats and Formica countertops. The TV above the bar plays news headlines.

One of the TV’s talking heads shouts, “HOW ARE WE GONNA SAVE THIS WORLD?”

At exactly this moment my waitress appears. She places a plate of hot biscuits before me. She turns off the television and says, “This is how you save the world. Biscuits.”

She laughs at her own remark and walks away. And I am left looking at steaming biscuits, wondering if this woman isn’t correct.

Biscuits are one of those mysterious things that bring out the best in mankind.

Think about it. Have you ever seen anyone rob a bank or hotwire a car while simultaneously eating a biscuit? No. But you’ve probably seen plenty of career criminals eating Miracle Whip. Thus, we can conclude that Miracle Whip is of the Devil. Also, low-fat cottage cheese.

But biscuits? They are downright holy. There are too many varieties to name, but here are a few:

Rolled biscuits, fried biscuits, beaten biscuits, drop biscuits, angel biscuits, shortcakes, widowmakers, heartstoppers, eye-poppers, Alabama sin cookies, Mississippi mantrappers, Georgia homewreckers, Texas tummy-tuckers, Louisiana lard pellets, buttermilk biscuits, sourdough biscuits, Dutch-oven biscuits, and of course the immortal cathead biscuit.

When I first started writing in earnest, my work was published in a tiny regional newspaper. The editor asked for professional byline—which is a mini biography. But I had no byline since I had never written anything more than a classified ad about a 1986 Ford.

So the editor tried to come up with a few words on my behalf. She asked, “What’re some of your major achievements?”

Achievements? I thought long and hard. “Well, I can swallow my tongue.”

“No, that’s not what I… Wait. Really?”

“Wanna see?”

“Yes. Actually, I would like to see that.”

So I did it. She stared into my open mouth then made a note onto her legal pad while mumbling, “Can… Swallow… Own… Tongue.”

We spent an hour trying to discover some of my other hidden talents only to find that I didn’t have any. I tried everything including my Kermit the Frog impression, my uncle’s Irish limericks, and I even made a failed attempt at performing the jump-over-your-own-leg dance move.

Finally, she came up with a byline. And in a moment that can only be called serendipitous, she formed a sentence that would stick with me for a long time.

“Sean Dietrich is a biscuit connoisseur.”

Little did I know that her words would sort of follow me throughout my life.

A few years ago, for example, I made a speech at a swanky party with many fancy people in the audience. The emcee was a former reality TV celebrity who wore sunglasses indoors, even backstage where he was often bumping into things.

The emcee introduced me as a “biscuit connoisseur.” Everybody laughed at this because they thought it was a joke. But this is no joke.

During my childhood I ate so many biscuits that my nickname was “Biscuit.” I was a chubby child. In fact, my mother firmly believes that I could have passed for Honey Boo Boo’s twin brother.

I didn’t care for the nickname because when you’re a kid, these things affect your confidence. There were boys on our baseball team with cool nicknames like “Kev,” “Rock,” or “Chief.”

But every time the third-base coach yelled “Run Biscuit!” it left a mark.

Even so, there was no denying it. My mother spoiled me with homemade biscuits. She prepared them from scratch most mornings, flouring the countertops, stamping the dough with an upside-down coffee mug.

The humble American biscuit has been one of the few constants in my life. In fact, biscuits were even present on the evening I met my wife.

I’ll never forget it. The church held its weekly fried chicken supper. Before you entered the buffet line an elderly lady with a beehive hairdo would stop you. She would be holding a goldfish bowl full of dollar bills.

She’d say, “There’s a suggested donation of five dollars for supper tonight.” Emphasis on “suggested.” Then she’d rattle her bowl and stare at you with coldblooded reptilian eyes.

“I don’t have five dollars,” I’d say. “All I have is two bucks.”

She’d yank the money from my hand and scowl. “I’m watching you, Dietrich.”

But anyway, our church buffets were legendary. They consisted primarily of three dishes:

1. Green vegetables that had been cooked so long they were no longer vegetables, and come to think of it, they weren’t even green.
2. Fried chicken thighs the size of Danny Devito.
3. Catheads.

When Beehive would catch me stealing upwards of five biscuits her lips would curl over her yellow teeth, and she would emit a low growl reminding me that she was a woman who could quarter chicken carcasses with her bare hands.

I met my future wife that night. When our eyes first locked I knew there was something about this girl. And when she sopped her plate counterclockwise with a biscuit I knew I had found the woman I would grow old with.

So I don’t know much, but I believe my waitress is onto something. No, biscuits might not save this world right away. But they certainly aren’t a bad place to start.

Take it from a connoisseur. Who can swallow his own tongue.

17 comments

  1. Cheryl Brantley - January 11, 2020 7:37 am

    I have an egg allergy and knew I would not be able to eat my wedding cake. I had a beloved uncle who made me a delicious cat head biscuit (which he presented to me on a special plate before the ceremony) so I would have something to look I was taking a bite of “cake” in my pictures taken at our reception. I wish I had taken the time earlier when watching him make them on another occasion to write down his recipe. They were so good! This is one of my favorite biscuit memories.

    Reply
  2. Sharon Brock - January 11, 2020 10:57 am

    I learned how to make biscuits from my mother, taught my son, and now my grandchildren. My cinnamon rolls start out as rolled biscuits, slathered with butter, and sprinkled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and crushed pecans. I roll them and cut them with thread which my youngest granddaughter thinks is genius.

    I remember eating breakfast at Yellowstone National Park and when my son asked for biscuits, the young lady behind the counter replied “what is a biscuit?” The look on his face was priceless. He couldn’t envision life without biscuits. Still can’t for that matter. I did my job.

    Reply
  3. Carolyn from Georgia - January 11, 2020 11:01 am

    YUM!!! BISCUITS!!! GREAT STORY AS USUAL!!! ♡♡♡!!!

    Reply
  4. Clark - January 11, 2020 12:05 pm

    I once told a fellow I worked with that he was a connoisseur because of the way he was going on about his work boots. He straightened up, turned sideways to me with his feet spread apart, made a fist with his right hand and said: “What’d you call me!” Ha! He was so serious I had to bite my tongue.
    So I guess I’ll go make some biscuits now.

    Thanks Sean.

    Reply
  5. Barbara Pope - January 11, 2020 12:07 pm

    Growing up in Brewton I regret to say I took my biscuit maker for granted. I had no idea it was a dying art–wish I could go back and say show me one more time.

    Reply
  6. Marge - January 11, 2020 2:01 pm

    Yum!!! My adult daughter has Celiac and so no “real” flour can be used in my baking! I sure miss biscuits!!!

    Reply
  7. Joe Patterson - January 11, 2020 2:44 pm

    My brother use to make cathead biscuits before we got older I was like you I wore husky pants so I have fought weight except for a few years from 15 to 22 so it is hard to eat a lot of good biscuits.Thanks

    Reply
  8. Eddy - January 11, 2020 3:17 pm

    I just had a conversation about biscuits last week at the Cracker Barrel, which are not my favorite biscuits, if you can call them biscuits. My Mama’s Mama and my Mama’s sister consistently made as good a biscuits and cornbread (IF NOT THE BEST) I’ve ever had! Happy New Year Sean, Jamey, Otis, Thelma Lou, and Y’all’s families! WE LOVE YOU!!

    Reply
  9. Linda Moon - January 11, 2020 4:03 pm

    Laughing at one’s own remarks can be lots of fun. But instead, I had fun with your self-described remark of “biscuit connoisseur”. Think about it…. if you had not been a biscuit connoisseur and that girl hadn’t sopped in a counterclockwise direction, you two wouldn’t be growing old together right now! Now, that’s serendipitous, Sean and Jamie!!

    Reply
  10. Barbara Brannon - January 11, 2020 4:38 pm

    Please. Don’t talk to me about Miracle Whip and I won’t talk to you about mayonnaise. P.S. Love me some biscuits too!

    Reply
  11. Carol - January 11, 2020 4:39 pm

    You so silly , Biscuits! But I love ya stories!!❤️
    Love ya!

    Reply
  12. Bill T - January 11, 2020 5:27 pm

    Long ago, on Sunday afternoons, all the family and 1st cousins would visit Daddy’s parents, Nanny and Pawpaw. This was in the days when Sunday dinner (mid day meal) was left on the table and covered with a table cloth and you ate leftovers for supper. About middle of the afternoon us boys (cousins and neighbor boys and girls) would break from football or whatever the game of the day was and head for the table. Most favorite was cold fried chicken and a glass of sweet tea, Mine was Nanny’s cathead biscuits. I would punch a hold in the side with my finger and fill it with ribbon can syrup. Memories from long ago (Mom made great scratch biscuits too but not like Nanny’s)

    Reply
  13. Shelton A. - January 11, 2020 6:14 pm

    In grateful thanks for my grandma’s biscuits.

    Reply
  14. Rebecca - January 11, 2020 6:52 pm

    My granny used to make a ‘pocketbook’ biscuit that I loved – it was just a huge biscuit, I guess as big as a pocketbook!

    Reply
  15. Melissa C Williams - January 11, 2020 8:19 pm

    Even though I was raised in the South, the only biscuit I had growing up was Pillsbury because my mother was from Illinois. However, I discovered real biscuits when I started dating my South Georgia husband whose grandmother could make buttermilk biscuit that would make your tastebuds rejoice and your tummy purr. She taught me how to make biscuit but I don’t do it much as we are now low carb people.😢

    Reply
  16. jnearen2013 - January 11, 2020 8:24 pm

    swimming in melted butter and hot sorghum. and cornbread, crumbled up in buttermilk.

    Reply
  17. Susan - January 12, 2020 4:33 am

    And then there’s also beer biscuits…
    and mayonnaise biscuits!

    Reply

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