Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.
In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I am examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.
Fresh tomatoes are only ever good in summer. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, almost wine-like flavor of a vine ripe tomato—just as there is nothing as disappointing as the dull, insipid, lifeless flavor of a cold storage tomato shipped from halfway around the world. I don’t eat those and strongly suggest that you don’t, either. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
When it comes to tequila, the basic choice is simple: 100% agave, or not 100% agave. Of course, this is like saying that when it comes to music, there’s Mozart or there’s a guy named Steve-O playing the kazoo version of Eine kleine Nachtmusik alone in a basement in Cleveland, but whatever. You get the point: One is the real thing.
So let’s ignore the mixto category, which only requires tequila to be 51% agave (the rest is typically a neutral spirit made from sugar cane) and concentrate on those labeled 100% de agave or 100% puro de agave.