5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Virginia Willis is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all! Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern, and her next book, Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, is due out in fall 2011.
After graduating from of L'Academie de Cuisine and LaVarenne, Willis went on to work for famed chefs and cookbook authors Nathalie Dupree and Anne Willan. She has also acted as the Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay, as well as executive producer for "Epicurious" on the Discovery Channel.
It's safe to say Virginia's passion for and career in food has certainly taken her far beyond her Southern roots and borders, but just because her White Lily Flour and Duke's Mayonnaise are out of sight certainly doesn't make them out of mind.
If New York can have its own state of mind, the South can too.
Five (Delicious) Reasons Being a Southerner is a Frame of Mind: Virginia Willis
I was raised in Louisiana and Georgia. Lived in Washington D.C., New York, New Jersey, Florida and France. I’ve traveled in 49 of the 50 states as well as Canada, England, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey and Mexico. In my wanderings, I’ve grown to learn that the South doesn’t have a monopoly on rednecks and racism. I also believe being Southern is a frame of mind and less to do with where you were born.
1. Southern Hospitality
"I am a firm believer that what folks call Southern hospitality is just as simple as making someone feel welcomed and comfortable. The minute someone walks in my door I ask him or her if they would like a glass of tea or water. Or bourbon. Or a bite to eat. Hospitality and good manners are the social lubrication the world needs to run more smoothly. It’s just a matter of being polite."
2. Importance of Family
"A sense of history, respect for the past, and an intense feeling of belonging to family are legendary in the South. Cultural examples of this include family reunions with long buffet tables of ham, potato salad, slaw and cornbread that draw offspring from all over the U.S.
Yes, Southerners have a proud food tradition in relation to family, but so does the lady I met New Mexico, who after hearing me tell of making biscuits with my grandmother excitedly told me about growing up helping her grandmother make tortilla soup, or the Polish man in Connecticut whose eyes glistened while telling me about his mama’s pierogi. The relationship between food and family roots people in their culture and gives them their place in the world, it doesn’t matter where you were born."
3. Appreciation for Blessings
"Southerners have always been resourceful. The South has forever been an agricultural based region, and therefore, poor. People have traditionally grown their own food, foraged in the woods and harvested fish and shellfish from the lakes, rivers and ponds. Using up every bit of the pig but the squeal was born from frugality. Corn was eaten fresh in the summer and dried for the fall and winter. An appreciation of blessings is a frame of mind that comes from going without. More people could work a little harder at being a little more Southern on this one, in my opinion."
4. Emphasis on Local
"With its fertile soils and hot climate, the South is a nearly year-round cornucopia of gorgeous produce - this has always been a land people could live off of. All across the region from spring to late fall, produce stands pop up in the corners of shopping center parking lots, at intersections of various main roads and at the roadside in the country. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in fresh and locally grown produce. We are going back to the foods of our ancestors. Farmers markets are now appearing all over the U.S., and stores are listening to customers’ requests to eat seasonally and buy locally. The food of the South is no longer just about fried chicken and overcooked greens. Or doesn’t have to be. Don’t get me wrong - I love fried chicken - but we are more than that. We were country when country wasn’t cool."
5. Familiar Foodways
"For the past several years a majority of the nominees for 'Best American' cookbook by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals were Southern. People like the familiarity of Southern food. Simple country cooking is simple cooking all over the world, at least in the Western hemisphere. Stewed chicken is coq au vin, grits are polenta, and primal foods like BBQ exist without borders. Every nation under the sun throws meat on fire, I just think we might do it a little better down here."
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
Im from Virginia , and Im very "Southern" to most people. But Deep South people call me a "Yankee". Ill tell them Virginia was Southern long before Alabama/Mississippi even existed on the map.
I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives great information :`~
..and the most telling thing about being "southern" is the apparent belief that they are the only ones in the world that believe those five things. Break out the guitar and write another country song. But make sure you get guitar players from the south, because they ARE the best pickers – and I do mean that!
"Being a Southerner is a Frame of Mind"
That dictates you marry your sister
where was that southern hospitality back during the jim crow era? did it just magically appear post civil rights act?
Oh, please. Because all racists live solely below the Mason-Dixon....There is racism everywhere in this country unfortunately.
Growing up in the Upper South, my accent reflects that borderland of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Not all Southerners are empowered by the roots so firmly tied to our fertile soil....but those who are have a sense of history and purpose. It's ironic that the same folks who belittle our culture are the quickest to embrace "modern" trends like sassafrass tea, bourbon, and wild greens foraging. Find your history, embrace it, and perhaps you too will find yourself in a contented "southern state of mind." Thank you kindly for your thoughts Ms. Virginia!
Thank you miss Joyce! Thanks for participating!
Great article Virginia! I like the sentiment that Southern Hospitality is a state of mind – it truly is. I grew up in the midwest, grandparents were farmers, their siblings were farmers and that polite hospitality was always present at our family gatherings and in the small towns they were from. Family and food was very important – we always had fresh, family grown veggies on the table and families got together most Sundays. It is something I miss terribly now that my generation of family has moved away to other parts of the country.
GREAT JOB WITH THIS ARTICLE, MS. VIRGINIA. YOU ARE A GRACIOUS LADY, AND I AM PROUD TO COUNT YOU AS MY DEAR FRIEND. I HAVE GREAT APPRECIATION FOR WHAT YOU DO. OUR BELOVED SOUTH HAS GOOD AND BAD. THE BEST OF US ENDEAVOR TO CELEBRATE THE GOOD, AND CORRECT THE BAD. I APOLOGIZE TO YOU FOR HAVING TO SUFFER THE COMMENTS OF THESE FOLKS WHO CAN NOT UNDERSTAND.
WHITE OAK PASTURES
Will, sir, I thank you kindly for your thoughts and time. I appreciate it. Best va
I am impressed, Very rarely do I discover a blog that is both educative and entertaining. Your thoughts are important; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to it.
all people are stupid. why is everyone fighting over who is more stupid. everyone is equally stupid and i will thrash stupid people
You are incapable of thrashing your mule, so why in the world would you want to thrash people?
Sigh. I never would have expected such vitriol towards an article that, while incredibly pleasant from my point of view, doesn't really change anything or anybody. Virginia, you're darling. Could I invite you over for a bourbon?
I have found the response somewhat shocking myself! It's like some folks didn't actually read what I wrote.... But! Glad to have dialogue and conversation. And, yes, of course. I'd love to sip and continue the discussion.
Lotta people have axes to grind and they'll do it on any surface. I believe that earns a "Well bless their heart!" and a wide, clamped-tooth smile.
You, my friend, are a lady, through and through.
I really enjoyed the article and when I lived in FL I had a co-worker that was born and raised "Southern". She was so polite and made her Sunday supper just as imagined and taught her children to always address adults as "Miss or Mr. So and So". It is a very nice tradition of values that the rest of the country could certainly learn from. I just wished I would have had the pleasure to dine at her house, I'm sure it would have been wonderful!
Jon – So sorry you've had such a bad experience. Sounds like they weren't raised right. There is hypocrisy everywhere. Thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to comment. Best VA
Having been born and raised in the South (and buckle of the "Bible belt" aka Mississippi), being "Southern" is to a point about a state of mind. Southerners have a mindset that dreams of "old times that are not forgotten." We look fondly upon our family (for the most part), and welcome memories of being with Meemaw and Pawpaw. We try to teach chidlren about what is right/wrong in the world and not to compromise on their morals (to each his own though). Rear children in the local church and hopefully, have the souls saved to Jesus (white and black). Food and family gatherings at food are a staple in the South (white and black). Southern soil has been used to raise crops from cotton, soybeans, corn, to tobacco in the Carolinas/Virginia area. But I would say this in passing, unless you are raised in the South, you cannot truely understand the mindset. You can transplant yourself there and try to adopt the culture, but you will not be wholly of it. Now bless yalls hearts!
Nice article. I have been living in Michigan since 2001. I was born and raised in Georgia. I consider myself a southerner...but I have no desire to live there ever again. I have had the pleasure of meeting a collection of really nice, "down home" americans in this " Great Lakes" state.
But like the article says, "southern hospitality is a state of mind". I , like the author of this article, have traveled quite a bit. I have found truely nice people from all over the country and world. To think that the southeastern United States is the best is ....well a personal preference at best. Point being there are many varied cultures that make up this world. And I feel that they are all equally great in their own right....
Bravo rebel yell – my point exactly. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Best va
After living in Durham Co NC for ten years I got so sick of hearing Yankee go home ,I did. And am I ever glad I did. No more snarky comments by dumb rednecks.
We don't mind "northerners" who come down here and mix in just fine. It's the obnoxious "Yankees" who think everything is better up north that we don't like.
I doubt the locals were sad to see you leave.
you tel him brother, any traitor to the south is a traitor of GOD, he prob voted for Obuthed 2 let him live in his potsmoke he will have to answer to GODS GLORY
"The south will rise again"
And then we'll just beat you back down like we did the last time.
What do I remember most about being born and raised in the South? Being stared at, laughed at and called 'weird' whenever I wanted to walk rather than drive very, very, very short distances.
I came to see that ol' Southern laid-back attitude as being more about apathy and prideful worldly ignorance than anything else.
Have no desire to ever move back there.
You will find plenty of northerners who come down south and want to stay.
On the other hand, you will rarely find a southerner who goes up north and stays, unless he or she just happens to love NYC.
The transplanting usually goes in one direction.
you spek truth borther thats cus we all found GOD and have real values as far as im conserned any southern that more to NY is a tratior to GOD
Go away troll.
what a troll you are.
people like you make me ashamed to admit that I was unfortunately born below the Mason-Dixon line.
the ignorance and bigotry that runs rampant in the south will continue in perpetuity, to no end because: drives all the intelligent people who believe in social diversity and civil rights, and are native to the south, to places like the Pacific Northwest.
black skirt, good move away to san fran and get gay wit sum1 if you dont like it hear no1 makin you stay....GOD SAVE HIM
Lame troll is lame.
of course, it's cheaper to live down there. and warmer temps are easier on old bones.
People move south because it is cheaper. If it cost the same to live down there, nobody in their right mind would move down there.
What a bunch of hogwash. I'm from the North spent my summers in the South currently live in the West. On top of that I lived in many countries. People are people, that description could be anywhere in the world. To be honest, Southerners are my least favorite because of their insecurity about being Southerners. The hateful Yankee stuff gets old and boring after awhile. It overshadows all the wonderful things like great food which I was hoping this article would be about.
Want to know what the rest of the world thinks of southerners, except for the fact that they are the sole people holding the US back?
1) Hospitality – yep, if you happen to be of the same colour and background (especially religion).
2) Importance of family – yep, spousal abuse a plenty, but no divorce. Also, anything not one woman/one man (and I am not even talking gay, though that is included) is sinful.
3) Food – fatty and incredibly unhealthy (though tasty). Little tolerance for anything new.
4) Local – see number 1
5) Food again – see number 3
Again, most of the world would like to see the south secede from the North, then the South would die or become a part of Mexico (which it has more in common with socially than the more progressive north (and coasts)) and the North would become a strong country people might actually like again.
oh yeah, and very resourceful. Check out the article here on CNN.com about three endangered whooping cranes being shot in Georgia!
Spoken like a true Damn Yankee that thinks "everything is better up North." While i would rather live down South than up North, into so ignorant as to think everyone up North is a jerk or rude. People are people. But the culture of the South tends to make its people a bit friendlier.
Oh, and your comment about racism is so off base. In the South there are tons of blacks. White and black know each other well and generally get along just fine, notwithstanding a few idiots of both colors.
Read like a true literate southerner. Like I said, 'the rest of the world'. I'm not American, I'm just telling you what the rest of the world thinks of you (well, at least the rest of the English speaking world, who knows about other countries). You people are pathetically racist, you just don't know it.
someoneelse: Get over yourself.
Maybe you and the author of the article should too. I am just taking the arrogance in the article and putting it in its place.
So which enlightened place are you from if you aren't from America? I've spent summers in England and they usually appreciated that i wasn't your typical "Yank".
I'm dual England/Canada and spend a lot of time with Aussies.
That just proves you don't know jack about what you are talking about with your absurd generalizations.
I've been to the South. I do know what I am talking about. I actually travel.
Big difference between traveling and living in some place. I've lived in SC, NY, and England, so at least I have some deeper understanding of the different regions.
Traveled all over, not just Florida. And not one day trips. That doesn't include all my time in Asia and Europe either. The mere fact that you travel makes you at least a little better than many from that area, but your posts make sure it's not much better. BTW, if you don't want people generalizing, maybe you shouldn't consistently do it yourself in posts, huh? And trust me, you should see the expats I know. They have lived in other countries for decades and still can't speak the languages and know nothing of the country. I have little doubt you fall into that category.
Anyway, nice debating with you, but gotta go. Generalizations should never be used for decisions about individual people, but generalizations as a whole tend to be closer to the truth than most enjoy.
if lincoln had only hung davis and lee as traitors after the war(after they were forced to watch a stars and bars burned), we wouldn't have this divide between north and south today: with folks re-writing history to try and whitewash the fact that the war really was all about owning fellow human beings.
Secession had a lot to do with slavery.
But don't fool yourself about the root cause of the WAR, which was all about power and economics. Lincoln couldn't have cared less about the slaves. He just wanted to preserve the status quo, which benefitted the north at the south's expense, at all costs.
Darlin' don't you want a pimento cheese sandwich and a nice glass of tea? Or maybe some really good lemonade made from rotten lemons? That is the best way. Edna Lewis said the best lemonade was made with lemons that had already begun to turn brown. She didn't have a microwave (and neither do I). Render some bacon, smoke some pig, simmer some collards, make a pot of homemade vegetable soup and put the cornbread in the oven in a CAST IRON SKILLET – NO SUGAR! Sugar is for tea. Luzianne. Really clear. And make way for the buttermilk!
Now I know what I'm fixing for supper. You have made me so hungry with the mere writing of my favorite foods. A big heapin' of collard greens and cornbread is so delicious.
Yes! Sounds good. That's what I had last night for supper. Greens and cornbread. Southern food Is not ALWAYS unhealthy. Wholegrain organic meal with greens with a bit – a bit- of ham.
we have great area in south, but dont bring the starbucks and pot smoke down here, we dont need nemore stupid libturds....this is the place of tru amereca with real value, not a place that caters to ppl that havent found GOD
I hope you are joking with the way you spell and are just making fun.
Ignore the troll.
I agree 100%. I was raised in the north and have spent most of my life in the north, but after just a few months in the south, I have to say that I look at things in an entirely different manner. I cried the day that I had to leave the south to return back north, but I have taken the values that I learned there back north with me. People here can chastise me for them until the day I die, because I'll die happy with my newfound respect for family, hospitality, common courtesy, and respect that just isn't bred into children who are born in the north, typically speaking.
I am born and raised in the South and wouldn't call any other place home. Most of you will read and find what others think of the South have only been a few short time or never once to the South. Visiting the South for a few days is nothing to understand the South you have to live down here for years as there is always something new to be learned every day.
You will not find someone from the East coast or the West coast that would know how to cook pokes salad while blogging about their inner city or suburb ways on their i-mac. Down here we are poor because industry down here has struggled and there is hardly a windfall of funds to get it started and maintaine it without being shipped off shore. Agriculture is a way of life and it is how I was raised. When there are no jobs to be had starting from scratch growing produce and fruit trees is just one of many ways we pull our selves up. Down here you have to produce something in order to get any income. Down here doing cosmetology or any thing else that doesn't produce physical items will not get you very far down here. We go by the old ways because it is how we survive even when the rest of the nation is suffering. Living beyond our means for us isn't a way of life. Simple things are a way of life like family and honest work.
you speak truth brother ... my pastor told me that this was CHRISTS land and that we was tru to HIM the govt would help us ... now we all have to band togther seen king keyna is in office but GOD will bring us thru if we beleave!!
Once again, you're an obvious troll who's not from the South.
listen her buttcrak i'm from sumter county AL right around livingston dont tell me about liing from were im from, i'm a southerner tru and tru
shut ur face. texas is stupid
Let me see.
The Confederate -TRATORS that started the Civil War- States of America and their modern-day sympathizers that simply: (a) REFUSE to accept THE FACT that God was on the RIGHT side and the side that WON and that BOTH they and their UNWORTHY "cause" LOST, AND, (b) CONTINUOUSLY attempt to revise and rewrite history in a disingenuous and intellectually BANKRUPT attempt to try to (1) "justify" slavery and (2) make themselves look "good" in the eyes of history – ALL to no avail.
The apalling illiteracy rates among the population that ALWAYS ranks at THE BOTTOM when compared to the rest of the Nation.
The staggering rate of morbidly obese among the population and whose regional population ranks at THE TOP when it comes to death-rates caused by cancer and diabetes and heart disease.
The Ku Klux Klan – Better known as "cowards of the night."
The racist and segregationist "Jim Crow" era – Better know as "social LOSERS of the day."
The worst drivers in Nation – No wonder "Miss Daisy" needed to be "driven."
Yes – I would say that "being 'Southern' " is indeed "a frame of mind" for sure.
Thank God for the REST of the United States of America.
Most southerners die happy men and women. Keep thanking God for the rest of the nation while passing judgment on others. And all this time I thought that was God's job and God's job alone. Whoever knew about DanteX? Who knew. *eyeroll*
Come down off of your high horse, have a sip of your favorite tea or whiskey, and learn to relax, because you appear to be a little uptight!
Am I the only one who sees the irony of your post about "apalling” illiteracy rates?
Don't try to be a smart ass if you aren't actually smart, DanteX
yes, well, I did see that...
"danteX" makes northerners look almost as stupid as "southern style"
I love a good conversation and there's certainly one going on here.....Glad everyone has an opinion. Thanks for visiting.
And I am THRILLED to have you here. Would you like some tea, darlin'? Bourbon?
I have traveled and spent time in both the southeast, deep south and southwest as well as the northeast. Southwest – nice, but keep to themselves – mainly transplants from other areas. Deep south – a bit less rude then the northeastern people. Southeast – depends where you are at. Along the beaches of Florida – not at all – of course these are usually transplants from the northeast. My favorite places are Alabama, northern Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. I'm not saying everyone is nice – everyone has bad days. But I enjoy being called Ma'am and love hearing, "Thank You" and "You're Welcome." Even having the door held open for me by a southern gentleman is a welcome. Very different then Chicago. It's definitely a more civilized and respectable way of life then the "northern" way.
Thank you so much for this article. I agree whole-heartedly on everything Ms. Willis says about the Southern frame of mind. Hospitality should be encouraged because it is the glue that will hold us all together. Strangers become friends with a small display of hospitality.
Thanks for this article, and I look forward to more articles that focus on the South.
Thank Gawd since didn't bring religion into this. I am from Alabama and must say during the first 5 minutes when meeting a southern woman she will ask, "What church do you belong to?" If that's a southern thing still then i am so glad I live on the Left and Best Coast. I find the Southwest far more hospitable than Dixie!
Then don't come back. I have lived all my life in Alabama and don't know a single person who asks someone about what church they go to.
Ditto Maggie. I am from SC and nobody asks about which church I attend (I don't).
The South is still the bible belt, but it is becoming more secular with each passing generation.
That is the reason my family left the south. Boone NC to be exact. The church question was the very first thing my mother was asked on the day we moved into our home. She told the neighbor we were Catholic. The enighborhood women would not even speak to my mother because she was Catholic. She got sick of the hillbilliy's and made my father find a job back up north. Lived here ever since
Throw dem 'bows
I'm proud to call myself a southerner – a North Carolina boy, to be more specific – even though I was born up in Yankee territory and I'm living back up there now. But the South (Tidewater Virginia and Franklin County, North Carolina) was where I made my home for many years, where I still own a home, and where I expect to someday return. Yes, being Southern is a state of mind... and it's the best state of mind there is.
hey neighbor... from So. Franklin Co.!
Southern Hospitality does not exist... its called Individual Hospitality.
Every day I interact with "southerners" who can't for the life of them be polite or considerate... and every day I see sugar-and-spice Southerners talk junk about the very same people they just gave lip service to, as soon as they walk away.
There isn't any greater degree of "hospitality" here than anywhere else in the country... and in fact, I'd wager less, if you counted all the fakeness against them.
It's very sad to read your comment. Makes me wonder what type of people you are associating with. I am from a border state by birth, Maryland to be exact, where the people of that state were divided by north and south during the uncivil war. Brother fought brother in the "recent unpleasantness" as those in the south refer to the war. I have lived here in Georgia for 34 years and though I will never be a true southerner by birth, I will always consider myself fortunate to live in this part of the country where people smile and greet each other and seem genuinely kind. I have found very little of what you refer to in all my years here. It seems to me the further south one goes, the less rudeness and lack of trust people have in their hearts.
shut your face. noe one cares where you are from or what you think. you are a moron and your life does not count
Hey vap, you wanna play a game?
Jon I know exactly what you are talking about. I am originally from Connecticut. Small town,daughter of farmers where everyone is very friendly, not standoffish,wave to each other etc.
No one tells you that you are going to hell because you don't go to their church like they do in Georgia.Or the Bless your heart statement followed by some bi#$%y statement. I work with the public and while there are many nice folks there are rude ones,phony ones, 2-faced, and I won't even get into the ones that want everyone to do things for them.especially someone else's' husband!
My husband who is from here, and I are older folks,business brought transfered us down here. He left the south early to join the service and then 28 years ago we are down here.Have a farm, are very creative folks. We can certainly take care of ourselves,do canning and freezing ,recycling and I do all sorts of need arts he does wood crafts and at almost 70 he still works an iron workers job. Most of the people around here don't seem to know how to take care of themselves.
While there are good people around there are an awful lot of phony ones and hypocrites;bible in one hand ready to take you for a ride with the other. Sadly we will never make it back home but believe you me the south is perhaps for that lady her land of milk and honey, but not for us.
listn up lubturd you prob voted to OBOOBOO too didnt ya?? well keep you dam pot smoke an gays up there we don't want you down here, it gettin late dont you have a athiest meetin to get to.......GOD SAVE THESE PPL!
Nice try, troll.
all the old religous zealots will die off in the next 20 years. the deographics of the south will change for the better once all the backwards thinking dies out.
spent 1st 16yrs of life in South, now am retired in the North, never ventured back & never intend to, hatred still runs deep down there and so does the KKK, and am not black, backward ideas and beliefs need to expire & probably will in another 4-5 generations, hopefully, maybe.... anyone that likes to parade the confederate flag just reminds me how much more we have to grow as a human race, those types need to go someplace and live out their lives quietly, society does not need them.
Southern Style...I was born and raised in TN and people like you are the problem with the South. You talk about how God needs to "save these people"...but you have no problem judging them for yourself. Good luck on your so-called judgement day. I love it here but there are fake, two-faced people everywhere...i mean in all parts of the US-well the world for that matter. Just have to surround yourself with the right kind of people. If you look for 2-faced people, you will find them. If you look for genuine, wholesome, loving people–you can find them too.
As an original northerner, who has lived in the South for 7 1/2 years I must say, being a southerner really is a state-of-mind. It means enjoying the beautiful southern outdoors, the warm breezes, the beautiful beaches and islands of the south, and the wonderful, fufulling food. It means relaxing and appreciating those around you. For any of you who have not spent an extended period of time in the south, I really encourage you to make the journey. I am confident you will come out of it a more grateful, appreciative person of all things.. and definitley more relaxed :)
As a lady from the south, I agree completely.
we like visiters from north but not hippi libturds or pot smoke, keep that sining behavier up there
You must be joking. I was born and raised in the deep, Deep South and knew my share of "hippi libturds" and "pot smoke(rs)" who were born, raised and will probably die down there.
What is sining "behavier"?
trust me brother i love my home i'm form sumter county AL right around livingston, our values dont like libral weekness and catering to, hard work gets you to GODS KINGDOM
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