Southern + Tween Kids + Tired Dad

equals Mac and Cheese gets to be two-thirds of dinner on veggie night.  Remember, in the south, it’s considered a “vegetable” as well as main dish.

But I make a killer mac and cheese.  No powder; velveeta/ milk only, with jumbo macaroni noodles. 

Don’t turn me in to DHS, though.  We’re also having steamed broccoli, peas/carrots, black-eyed peas, and corn muffins.


6 Responses to “Southern + Tween Kids + Tired Dad”

  1. bridgett Says:

    Explaining the whole concept of vegetarianism to my mother was an ordeal.

    “No, Mom, vegetarians don’t use bacon grease.”
    “But how do they cook their green beans?”

  2. Susie Says:

    What time is dinner?

  3. Slartibartfast Says:

    Susie: come on over any time!

    Bridgett: I seriously doubt it would fit into a vegetarian diet, but we stopped cooking veggies in fat and started using this:
    Goya Ham Seasoning

    It is especially good on green beans and blackeyed-peas. It tricks my mouth into thinking I put fatback in, and there’s no fat and calories!

  4. nm Says:

    I’m always puzzled by the pork-in-the-vegetables thing here in the south. I mean, this doesn’t derive from English cookery (aside from the cooked-to-the-point-of-disintegration part), and especially not from Scots cookery, which is practically pork-free. But it is absolutely typical of Spanish cookery, as is the southern US attitude to vegetables generally. You don’t typically get vegetables as part of a meal in Spain. You can order them as a separate course, in which case you will get an entire plateful, but you can’t get a “serving” of vegetables to save your life. (In a restauranta, anyway. You sometimes get this in private homes.) Further, if you do order vegetables, you cannot get them without chunks and flecks of pork all over them, and all bathed in pork grease.

    Try as I may, though, I can’t come up with any reason that southeastern USians should have encountered Spanish settlers long enough to learn to cook from them but not long enough to have absorbed any of their language or social structure.

  5. Slartibartfast Says:

    nm, perhaps the tradition is not that old? Could it have been, like smoked pork ribs, passed from former slaves to their reconstruction-era sharecropper neighbors?

    Or maybe the high salt content in the fatback was a good preservative?

    This would make a great study.

  6. bridgett Says:

    Yay! A history topic!

    Pork was the domestic meat of choice even really early in the colonial period because pigs will eat anything, pigs go feral and take care of themselves pretty rapidly, and pigs multiply rapidly. One turned them loose in the woods and let ’em rip — no fences to build and because they were free-range, one didn’t have to have a whole lot of real estate to build up one’s property in livestock. (Stuff no white person “improved” — built stuff on with an intent to claim — was considered part of the commons and could be used free for all takers. This was a common practice until the 1820s, when wealthier farmers got sick of having poor whites traipse over their fields and forests….) Beef really wasn’t the national meat until after the Civil War. Think cattle drives, railroads, and the rise of Chicago as a meatpacking center smack in the middle of the country.

    The favored colonial cooking method was “put everything in a kettle and boil it” and 8 months out of the year, the vegetables one ate had been dried on strings or stuck in a barrel of salt or buried in a cold cellar. Because dried vegetables take a lot of water to reconstitute and tend to lose flavor and burn, colonial types threw salty fat meat into the pot. They did not worry about calories — they needed to consume between 3-4000 calories a day to maintain their weight when they were engaged in heavy outside labor, so they turned to fatmeats to do that. Scots and English traders also borrowed some food prep from their Indian wives and female companions. Enslaved Islamic Africans were grossed out by pig and much preferred to raise their own chickens — there’s still somewhat of a divide in African-American communities about whether pig or chicken is the appropriate food of welcome.

    Celts of all types would have rather had mutton, sure, but sheep didn’t really do well anywhere but New England.

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