I am saying grace before supper. And a lot is going through my mind.
Namely because we are eating biscuits tonight. And I love biscuits. When I am done saying this blessing, I will experience one of the best feelings on planet Earth. Which is peeling open one of my wife’s hot, handmade catheads.
Steam will rise from the soft bread to kiss me square on the nose. And I will swear I can almost hear the Vienna Boys Choir singing “Ave Verum Corpus” somewhere in the distance.
I have a long childhood history with biscuits. The day after my father’s funeral I remember awaking to find our kitchen covered in a fine dusting of Gold Medal Flour. There were old coffee cans of lard on counters, and matronly women in beehive hairdos.
The oven had transformed the kitchen into a sauna. The sound of female chatter was like the sound of geese on a pond. I sniffed the air.
Hallelujah. They were making biscuits.
After a funeral you have a lot of food around. This happens when someone you love dies. Church ladies with solemn faces show up at odd hours to leave hot pans on your porch, or shoeboxes of fried chicken, or Tupperware containers with notecards attached to the lids.
And you receive a lot of biscuits. This is because the American biscuit is not something that merely sits in a bread basket, covered with gingham. A real biscuit is true. It is something real.
Next time you eat a biscuit think of the hands that mixed the flour. Human hands that have seen their share of pain, and loss, and life. See the fingers flex when they knead lard into the ivory dough. Watch the dusty palms use an upside-down cup to stamp each one.
Verily. This is love.
The ironic thing is, after my father’s funeral I didn’t feel like eating. I had no appetite. I had bleeding ulcers from the time I was 9 because of a crummy homelife. And after my father’s end, my nervous stomach only got worse.
And do you know how they treated my ulcers? Well, the first method was something called wax suppositories, which I firmly believe ought to be outlawed.
But the second treatment was soft, hot, golden-crusted, crumbly centered, buttermilk biscuits.
The women in my life took it upon themselves to heal me with food. Strange old ladies appeared from the shadows with plates of food in hand. Had it not been for these women, I would have surely withered and died.
When I met my wife, one of the first things she ever cooked for me were fried gizzards and biscuits.
We shoved these scalding hot gizzards inside the steaming, floury biscuits, then smashed the pieces together, slathered them with butter, and ate until we were ill. And I couldn’t quit grinning at the supper table.
Because you see. Life is jagged. And it never quits lunging at you. Just when you think you’re through the hard parts, there are more bumps over the next hill. But biscuits. They make life into art.
They are more than they seem. They are the stuff prayers are made of. All food prepared with tenderness is this way. This bread comes to us from another realm, even though we don’t deserve it, there it is. Proof that someone loves us.
Over the years, my wife’s biscuits have undergone subtle changes. They have varied in thickness and weight. They have grown softer, larger, smaller, fatter, richer, more buttery, more flaky, more crumbly, lighter.
Like them, my wife and I have also undergone changes. We never had children of our own, for instance, but we’ve had our share of dogs.
We got most of these pups when they were no bigger than softballs. We watched them grow, we let them destroy our furniture, and we saw them into their late years when their snouts turned white.
And on their final days, we held their heavy heads against our chests and told them we loved them, through soaked and swollen faces, while a vet helped them drift to sleep forever.
In other words, my wife and I have had a nice life. We’ve been to Mexico twice. And we have seen the prairies of the Midwest. We have eaten brisket in Texas, and seen the stars shine over the Grand Canyon like scattered snow on asphalt.
We have walked the shores of Cape San Blas, tossed shells into the water of the Chesapeake, and dreamed aloud while looking at sunrises over the Appalachians.
We are growing older. And it’s happening faster every day. I wish that time would slow down, but it doesn’t. One day, my joints will hurt more than they do now. One day I will be white-haired and need help getting out of my La-Z-Boy recliner. One day we will be but shadows of the children we were. One day I will be gone.
But I can truly say that I have known the finest that this world can offer me. The hand of a lover, and a friend.
Tonight, I’m seated at a suppertable, holding that flour-covered hand. My head is bowed.
If I were a painter, I’d put my whole heart into the greatest painting ever painted and give it to her. If I were a sculptor, I would carve something from the best and biggest piece of marble. If I were a builder, I’d give her Buckingham.
But there is so little I can give, other than my beating heart. And these few words:
“Bless this food, Lord. And bless the hands that prepared it.”
Van - September 29, 2020 9:27 am
I feel the same way about my Lady’s cornbread!!
Victor Wyatt - September 29, 2020 9:52 am
Your story tonight reminds me of our many blessings! I have a great family and good friends! We have had good health and travels together! Thank you for reminding me of these blessings! I hope you remember your blessings too!
Earle Wright - September 29, 2020 10:06 am
I had trouble getting through your story because, once you said “biscuit”, my mind went to Hardee’s and their “Country Ham Biscuit”. Short of some of the homemade biscuits you describe, I believe Hardee’s makes the best around. And even though the country ham doesn’t compare with that of my youth, it’s close enough. Please do not tell my cardiologist about any of this!
Ann - September 29, 2020 10:11 am
Jan - September 29, 2020 10:24 am
Amen and amen!
Carol “Bobbee” Heidbreder - September 29, 2020 10:43 am
The ultimate love story and a great reminder to us all of just how quickly life goes by. Much “food” (😌) for thought and for our very souls. Thanks again for another beautiful message!
Harriet - September 29, 2020 10:57 am
Beautifully written love story Sean and Jamie.
Deb Becker - September 29, 2020 10:57 am
Sean you did not deserve a crummy home life – no child does. Your amazing heart and spirit really come through in your writing, and I’m so privileged to get to read it. I stumbled on gold. This brought me back to the 50’s when I was a little girl, visiting my aunts and uncles in Dothan. I slept in a bed on the enclosed back porch next to the kitchen, and when my aunt started making biscuits about 5 AM the smell would wake me up. She had a “biscuit bowl” in the cabinet and just kept adding flour, and made them in a well in the middle. We opened them on the side and put in churned butter and syrup – sop biscuits…Nothing finer.!
Virginia Watson Snell - September 29, 2020 11:03 am
Sean, I look so forward to your posts each morning and this one didn’t disappoint. There’s just something about homemade biscuits that warm the soul and especially if you are sharing them with the one you love. Thanks for your ray of sunshine to start my morning.
Cynthia Woods - September 29, 2020 11:22 am
You are blessed, Sean and so are the hands you hold.
John Humphries - September 29, 2020 11:30 am
Amen and amen!
Becca, Columbiana, AL - September 29, 2020 11:42 am
Sean, you and Jamie are blessed with having each other and the love you share! God bless you both!
MR - September 29, 2020 11:42 am
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Marilyn - September 29, 2020 11:56 am
Can’t find the right words, but your story did speak to me. And now I want biscuits! Lol
Leigh Amiot - September 29, 2020 11:58 am
By the time I got to the blessing, my eyes were wet. My live-in grandmother used to make a baker full of biscuits, and now and then, one would be shaped like a gingerbread man—oh what a treat! With cane syrup or just plain, Grannie’s biscuits were divine.
Heidi - September 29, 2020 12:13 pm
I have a recipe card in my box titled “Jamie’s Biscuits” from when you posted it. I’m going to make some today and hold the hands of my sweet husband. I thank God every day for him and the years we have had (37).
You & Jamie are true blessings to us. ❤️
Patsy Boshears - September 29, 2020 12:26 pm
Oh yes—-“bless the hands that prepared it” as my my mother’s frail father said it over his glass of cornbread and buttermilk, and as I say it now for my own grandchildren. It is the legacy that keeps on giving because it is heartfelt and honest.
Debi - September 29, 2020 12:37 pm
You need to go and interview Brenda Gantt in Andalusia, AL…thru her FB “Cooking with Brenda Gantt” videos she has madr biscuit making popular again!! And has over a million hits on her biscuit making video!! Thanks for a good one!!
Keloth Anne - September 29, 2020 12:39 pm
Oh goodness — I read and a few tears roll down my cheeks. This was so wonderful and such sweet words from the heart. You and Jamie have such an incredible love and I am so thankful our paths crossed and so enjoy your beautiful words each morning ♥️♥️
Now I’ll have a biscuit with my coffee!!
Allison C Gilmore - September 29, 2020 12:46 pm
My Mama was famous for her buttermilk biscuits. She tried to teach some of us how to make them, but our biscuits just weren’t anywhere close to hers. When she died in 2005, her buttermilk biscuits were lost to the world forever. Today would have been her 90th birthday, and if she were still alive to celebrate, I’m pretty sure she would already have a pan of buttermilk biscuits in the oven. I can almost smell them baking. Sure wish I could have just one more of Mama’s biscuits to eat.
joan moore - September 29, 2020 12:47 pm
Biscuits are really the delicious tribute to the women who created our first memories of love translated into breakfast.
Dianne - September 29, 2020 1:10 pm
One of my grandmothers, who grew up on Stone Mountain in AL, made the best biscuits, and I always looked forward to them at her house. My mother made homemade yeast rolls, but always purchased canned biscuits. I never developed the art of baking them, but I can still smell and taste my grandmother’s wonderful biscuits. We always bless “the hands that prepared this food” at the end of our blessing. AMEN!!
Jane Elder - September 29, 2020 1:59 pm
Amen. Any food made with love is a healing potion.
Jimpa - September 29, 2020 1:59 pm
I have searched Sean of the South, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google. Can’t find it. And Google just knows Jamie Oliver. HELP!
kathleenivy - September 29, 2020 2:11 pm
Amen Sean, Amen
Eddy - September 29, 2020 2:25 pm
I totally concur with Earle Wright! Aside from the awesome homemade biscuits I was totally blessed with from a loving grandmother and her oldest daughter throughout a good portion of my life, Hardee’s are the best made from scratch biscuits outside the house! I “hurry on down” every Saturday that I can to see The Biscuit Lady!
Lynn C Evers - September 29, 2020 2:35 pm
The world needs more biscuit makers who filled with love and covered in flour, place a biscuit-balm over what ails us.
Sara Nichols - September 29, 2020 2:36 pm
Miss my mother’s biscuits. I don’t have the words to describe how good they were. Just those four words. Thank you for this lovely column.
Regina Fernicola - September 29, 2020 2:41 pm
It is in our smallest acts of service and love, that our greatest humanity is manifest. ❤️
Tammy S. - September 29, 2020 3:13 pm
Oh my! This is wayyyyy better than any old Chick-flick!! Cause it’s real!!! (Although The Notebook was pretty amazing.) Does it get any better than biscuits and love! (That wasn’t a question.) Loved this one Sean!!
E. Ann Padgett - September 29, 2020 3:26 pm
Oh my dear Lord! Thank you, Almighty God, for Sean Paul Dietrich and his loving companion wife whose name I do not know. Thank you for allowing Sean to share his amazing insights tucked within his incredible written and spoken snippets of life! Thank you for leading him and his wife to find forums needed for him to do what he does. Dear God, please allow Sean of the South to continue being himself, to often humbly, openly, and wryly display such clear and strong humor, skills, and wisdom within wonderful anecdotes for his audiences, of which You know I am one. And Lord, thank you for all those hot, homemade, from-scratch biscuits and those who make them with love, and thank you too, oh Lord, for allowing me to sometimes be one of them. Amen❣️
Sharon Brock - September 29, 2020 3:52 pm
I remember all those lovely women who made biscuits for me, now making them in Heaven. I have this image of the Almighty scarfing down hot biscuits dripping with honey and butter. And blessing all those loving hands. Each time I make biscuits I feel those hands guiding mine and they are with me. Especially when I roll out the dough extra thin, spread with softened butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, roll up, and slice into rolls. All the children in my life waited for weekend mornings for cinnamon rolls. Thank you Sean.
Christina - September 29, 2020 4:01 pm
You have described the most delicious biscuits and their healing power! Now please send some over to California 😜
cronkitesue - September 29, 2020 4:03 pm
Karen - September 29, 2020 4:10 pm
My GOD, you can write! You reduce me to the happiest, most understanding tears each and every week. Thank you, Sean. Thank you so much. I’m going to make my sweet husband biscuits this weekend.
With much love,
Karen in Birmingham, AL
Drew G Travis - September 29, 2020 4:13 pm
Sean, might I have permission to reprint portions of this in our church newsletter, with credit given, of course? I really appreciated your words this morning. Thank you.
Lisa Wilcox - September 29, 2020 4:17 pm
Loved this one- I love how you love your wife and your canine children too! Some day can you please share her biscuit recipe?
Linda Moon - September 29, 2020 4:25 pm
“Ave Verum Corpus” is beautiful in one of my favorite languages – Latin. There was love in those biscuits after your father’s funeral. Sean. You made me think of a mother of 12 who cooked lots and lots of biscuits for her brood. I’m so happy you and your wife have had a nice life. It’s a lot like my guy’s and mine. Et Amor Vobis!
MAM - September 29, 2020 4:31 pm
YUM! Biscuits and gizzards. Nobody above mentioned the gizzards, but I love them —the only one in the immediate family who does, but they are deliciously chewy. And biscuits, so wonderful! My wonderful Yankee husband of 52 years tolerates them, but that’s just fine. That way I get more! Just as I am so blessed to have found my husband, I believe you and Jamie were meant to be!
jnearen2013 - September 29, 2020 4:45 pm
“Verily. This is love.” Yes, yes it is.
STEVE MOORE WATKINS - September 29, 2020 4:54 pm
I have Tupelo Honey for you. 2018 crop. Best quality in 35 years. It is waiting for you. To mix with soft butter. For your biscuits.Or put on Hagen Das Vanilla ice cream. Or whatever. It will never sugar. Sweet like the memories of mother’s biscuits…. with butter and honey.
Margaret E Odell - September 29, 2020 4:55 pm
Sean, you are so blessed to have a wife who can make great biscuits!
Patricia Gibson - September 29, 2020 5:18 pm
You are blessed,Sean and thanks for sharing that❤️
Jason Bray - September 29, 2020 6:00 pm
This post brought back so many memories of my sweet grandmothers, all phenomenal kitchen wizards, who regaled us weekly with southern delicacies. It also gives language to my own thankfulness for the lady I have been blessed to love and be loved by. Thank you Sean.
K. D. Kempf Jones - September 29, 2020 8:45 pm
Again – THANK YOU, Sean! I especially like the part where he blesses the hands that made them. This is beyond true! :-).
Theresa Overcast - September 29, 2020 9:37 pm
Best thing life offers in the way of food is indeed biscuits!!! Your writing never fails to lift my heart. Thank you, Sean!
Margaret Angell - September 29, 2020 11:40 pm
What a blessing it would be if every couple could share a love like the one you and Jamie share.
Kathy Spruiell - September 30, 2020 12:49 am
… and bless you, Sean. Thank you for sharing your love with the world. Like the song, what the world needs now, is love, sweet love.
Lynn Pappas - September 30, 2020 1:04 am
Yes, watch “Cooking with Brenda Gantt” on Facebook. She is from Andalusia and cooks like my mama did.
Dawn Bratcher - September 30, 2020 6:16 am
Aw, true love! ❤ The best thing in this world (except for my Jesus!)
Wayne gordon - September 30, 2020 2:25 pm
You’re surely blessed if you’ve had brisket in a Texas- don’t let anybody fool with your brisket or biscuits- they’re good together. The Grand Canyon is on my bucket list!
MJ Breaux - September 30, 2020 4:07 pm
All the best things involve biscuits and real love. ❤️
Diane H. Toney - September 30, 2020 5:11 pm
Nothing quite as effective as honoring the simple. Thank you. You ( your wife, actually ) and I exchanged books several months ago. Mine is a simply written memoir of life in the 50s in a small Southern town. I believe you would enjoy parts of it : The God/church part, the school part, the war/post-war part. Hope you’ll find 30 minutes to read some of it sometime.
christine Wackrow - September 30, 2020 5:55 pm
beautiful story of love. LOVE ALL OF YOUR stories
Linda Ivey - September 30, 2020 7:09 pm
Omg, you brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful
Alice - October 1, 2020 11:59 pm
Beautiful ❤️I love biscuits also and I love reading your stories Sean they make my day God bless you and your wife and fur babies❤️❤️
Bonnie Primm - October 9, 2020 5:43 pm
I think I need to send you some more honey for those biscuits! Love your writing and your view of the world, I never miss an opportunity to tell folks about you and how you never fail to see the good in spite of everything bad, truly refreshing. Honey on it’s way to you and your bride! It’s from our hives here in Pensacola (Perdido). Hope you enjoyed the last batch. (Let Them Bee Perdido Local Honey)
Donna Nance - October 30, 2020 4:59 pm
You haven’t lived until you poke a hole in one of those biscuits and poured homemade cane syrup in the hole….
Sharon J - October 30, 2020 7:17 pm
Now I’m hungry for a good homemade biscuit! Thanks Sean for memories and reminding us that life can be good.
David Bass - October 31, 2020 12:44 pm
Sean I can close my eyes and see my grandmother and my mother scurrying around in the kitchen making biscuits. They both are making them in heaven now. That smell is surely part of the glory.
Mary Hicks - November 28, 2020 3:50 pm
Oh, Sean,such wonderful memories come back to mind from childhood while reading this. My Granny Hill who always made more at breakfast for a blackberry cobbler for supper! My precious Momma, who is in Heaven now, made so many for us seven kids while growing up. I loved watching her make them, always with White Lily flour, in that round wooden biscuit bowl!! My Aunt Ida in Pensacola would make those big cathead!! I have been making them for my husband of 55 years. We hold hands for blessing and give God thanks. Thank you again, Sean, for a wonderful reminder of precious memories!! You are a blessing to me and all your readers. God bless you and Jamie and Mother Mary.💖💖🤗🤗🙏🙏
Bobby - November 28, 2020 3:53 pm
Who would have thought that a biscuit could ooze over with love! However, you showed that it can and does……. you have such a gift!
TerreLynn - November 28, 2020 5:55 pm
Oh my Lord, I just burst into tears. I didn’t see it coming, but this story got me.
Jenny - November 28, 2020 8:26 pm
So many memories and so much love for your words today. Thank you 💜
Donna - November 29, 2020 8:59 am
Love this! So happy to have been raised on cat head biscuits and tupelo honey or cane syrup. To me, just heaven!
Brenda - December 2, 2020 6:04 am
Thank you for the best love story ever!
donna taylor - December 12, 2020 11:27 pm
Biscuits and love-you have found the secret to happiness-butter -honey-just a touch of added perfection- like your words…