Lord have mercy.  Why do people like to talk about politics so much?  I just don't want to listen to another wine-swirlin' Californian who thinks he knows how the "South" is going to vote.  And by the way, Texas is not considered part of the South.  And Virginia is kinda the south, but uppity.  And then there's Alabama.  And New Orleans is creole- whole different ballgame.

There isn't just one "South" and there are a lot more progressive people living there than most people realize.

 
 

I'll admit it.  Sometimes y'all West Coast people get it right.  Take breakfast for example.  I know you don't get the whole grits concept but I was thrilled to discover that at least someone out here has figured out how to make biscuits and gravy.

Hubby and I were spending an evening sans kids (and dog) out on the town and made our way to Pacifica.  There we dined at a fine establishment that had a logo reminiscent of a bowling alley - it's called
Nicks at Rockaway Beach.   So after seeing that logo, we knew we were gonna have good eatin' and Nick's did not disappoint. 

The special was none other than biscuits and gravy so of course we ordered it.  The gravy was good ole white sauce, the staple of many a southern dish, and included a passel of lumps indicating that the sauce contained the requisite quota of grease and sausage droppings needed to impart good flavor.  It was delicious. 

Even though the ocean is on the wrong side out here, we were able to dine on our favorite breakfast food and watch the waves from a cozy booth at Nick's.  The service was on par with the best example of southern hospitality and we were as fat and happy as two diners at a Shoney's all-you-can-eat buffet. 

We might just have to stay out here.

 
 

I do not see the thrill of throwing a piece of string into some murky water and waiting for some innocent creature to swallow.  How can that be considered a sport? 

I realize that men need some sort of excuse to take off for long periods of time and drink beer but good grief.  Do you really need to buy all of that special equipment just to camouflage a boy’s only drinking binge?  And is it really necessary to have a whole store devoted to your so called hobby?  It's no coincidence that 90% of the inventory in those Bass Pro shops includes some sort of beverage handling device not to mention the boat, which is really nothing more than a safe place to hide your cooler.   

 
 

Everytime I meet someone in California, they search to find a redneck connection that they can share with me.  Either they have spent some time driving quickly through some bastion of backwards thinking, they have been forced to live in a southern outpost against their will, or they have one long lost, ignorant family member who hails from that region of the country. 

It is always entertaining and I really enjoy hearing what people on the West Coast have heard about those of us on the right coast. 


But my favorite story happened last week. I was at a networking event and met a wonderful lady who had visited the south.  She started telling me a tale about a drive through a southern town when she spotted a big guy in overalls stirring a boiling pot by the side of the road.  I immediately shouted out "Boiled Peanuts - my favorite! You can find them everywhere you go in the south."  She was stunned.  "How did you know that's what he was stirring in that pot?" 

Well what else could it be?  Southern town, guy in overalls, big rusty steel barrell over a hot flame, former boat oar being converted to stirring implement (probably recently removed from one o' them rafters in Deliverance country). 

Boiled peanuts.  A salty treat to die for year round but especially in the fall.  My grandfather made them for us and as kids we had a ball shooting the soggy peanut shells at each other.

What I wouldn't give for a boiled peanut right now.  Closest thing you guys have out here is edamame.  But that's too darn healthy and not salty enough to go with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

 
 

I have always liked clam chowder and now find myself in clam chowder mecca.  And not that icky tomato based stuff they sell in New York City.  I'm talking about the cream based delight that you can find at seafood restaurants.  They have clam chowder every where you go in the Bay Area.  I have tried it on the Fisherman's Wharf, in Sausalito, in Tiburon, in Monterey , Carmel, Santa Cruz, Napa, but I have found the best.  It has the perfect consistency and a hint of sausage plus clams that aren't too big and the right amount of salt.  You can find it at Stacey's at Waterford.  The restaurant just happens to be owned by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the menus are a riot to read. 

Who would have expected the best chowder to exist in an East Bay restaurant in Dublin, California? 

Now if I could just find some hushpuppies to go with that, I would be happy.

 
 

It's bad enough that there is a three hour time difference between the East and West Coasts but here's the really confusing thing.  The water's on the wrong side.

When you spend your entire life making directional choices based on whether you are heading towards or away from the water and the water changes sides, it is a problem.  (You know people from South Carolina don't use maps, you saw the Miss South Carolina beauty pagent contestant, didn't you? )


In one of my first trips out here, I was thoroughly convinced that the signs were wrong based on my internal awareness that oceans are always on the East of any starting point.  It was thoroughly mind boggling when I tried to get this through the head of the person on 411 who was trying to help me get from point A to point B.  She just couldn't grasp the problem at all. 

When I finally somehow managed to reach my destination, a very amused co-worker reminded me that I was on the West Coast now and that the Ocean had in fact gotten up and moved to the other side of the bed.  And the darn thing had apparently decided to change its name from  "Atlantic" to "Pacific". 

I knew I should of brought me some of that moonshine Mommer and 'em keep down in the basement. 

 

BBQ

2/3/2008

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What is "Tri-Tip"?  I have never heard of the stuff before and now it is what passes for barbeque out here.  Everywhere I go, people try to serve you beef and call it barbeque.  But this tri-tip thing really floors me.

Let me set the record straight, there is only one kind of real BBQ and it has to involve pork.  There are disputes about the proper kind of sauce (whether it is mustard-based or ketchup-based) and the right kind of coleslaw to accompany it (mustard-based or vinegar-based) but the constant ingredient in the south is pork.   And you must always have a side of over-cooked, bacon flavored green beans to go with it or you just aren't havin' a good meal.  And don't get me started on Brunswick stew.  I can't find it anywhere out here.  Where's a good ole Sonny's BBQ when you need one?  I did finally succeed in locating a spot that had fried okra but  it closed a week later (the owner apparently suffered a heart attack from the greasy fare, but I bet he died happy.)

 

 
 

One weekend I had a hankerin' for grits.  And not just your garden variety grits (yes, y'all non-southerners, there are huge grit gardens all over the south) I wanted a good ole grits casserole with some of that fancy party plate kind of cheese.  So I set out to the local grocery establishment in search of some grits. 

A Piggly Wiggly was nowhere to be found so I had to make do with a Safeway grocery store.  After an exhaustive search, instant grits were the only thing I could find.  I don't know which city in New York birthed the inventor of this product, but I do know he has never been to the south.  Grits bear no resemblance to those freeze-dried things in a package. 


My next attempt was to try the nearest Whole Foods Store.  I figured they carried foods from foreign countries, so maybe they would think grits were exotic.  I looked high and low and couldn’t find them.  It’s then that I discovered a large bin labeled polenta.  They sure did look a lot like my favorite yellow grits.  I asked the nearest attendant about the ground corn particles in the bin and he informed me that they were polenta, NOT grits.  I thanked him and bought a pound of the so-called polenta and proceeded to prepare a large pot of yellow grits.  Oh happy day.  I just might be able to survive another month or two here. 

But don’t tell these people out here who think they are eating a fancy Italian gourmet food called “polenta” that they are actually eating good ole grits, which are at least a day old and fried in butter.  

 
 

This must be a southern thing because I can't find good ice anywhere around here. 

By good ice, I mean the kind of ice that you get at all of the finest eating establishments (places like Sonic, Zaxby's, Great American Cookie Company)and which has the consistency of snow in a cup.  It's not those perfectly sized cubes of ice, or those clunkers with the hole in the middle, no it's the ideal ice.  Fine, individually shaped particles of ice that actually improve the taste of the associated beverage.  For a person growing up in the South, that beverage of course would be either Sweet Tea or Coke.  

I have been known to make my dining choices based solely upon the type of ice provided, a fact which can make your dining options a tad limited, but this stuff is important. 

This is not a singular disorder of my own making, for I once quizzed my Mom on the "good ice" places in my hometown of Greenville, SC and she
was able to quickly add a dozen or so new dining options to my list.  This ice knowledge is clearly a deeply embedded part of proper southern upbringing.  Perhaps it has something to do with a genteel lady's inability to sweat in public. 

 
 

Three years ago, I packed up my husband, teen-aged daughter and the obligatory southern dog, Abbigail the Bassett Hound, to head west.  Junior, or Bubba as he is sometimes called, had already opted to become a sophisticated college man in some state I still can't locate on a map, but his school mascot is a Hoosier.  Near as I can tell, a "Hoosier" is a redneck who doesn't live in the south.  

 We left our home of Atlanta, Georgia, where a three bedroom house complete with basement and attic could be had for around $175,000, to move to the golden land of California for a new life. And contrary to some of those TV shows, we didn't find any texas tea to subsidize the move.  Apparently, someone hasn't told these people out here that their million dollar home is just a double wide with no wheels. 

Mary May June Bug, our lovely teenager of 14 years, was thrilled with the idea of moving out West, that is, right up until the day we actually started moving out West. 


Now Hubby, or Hubby Bubby, as he likes to be called, was too smart to make the drive with three females in a car too small for two normal sized southern women, so he joined us later. 

Let's just say there was not a Stuckeys between Atlanta and Bakersfield, California that we didn't hit.