I am a proud product of the South...... except for some of the food.
Fried chicken? Check (okay, these days, it's faux-fried in the oven but that's not the point). Buttermilk biscuits? MMMM.... gimme!!! Cornbread? Very much so, but it took me a few years to get there. Same with bluegrass music; took years me to appreciate it. Collards or turnip greens?..........
Well, let's pause there.
My parents, every New Year's Day, would have black-eyed peas and turnip greens. Mom is not a fan of collards so they substituted turnip greens for the annual New Year's Day ritual. Supposedly, you eat these foods as a symbol of the money you hope to obtain throughout the year. Frankly, I prefer -- and practice -- the money-burial ritual instead (don't ask, it's a long story). And to show our disdain for those disgusting foods, my brother and I made a tradition of splitting a frozen pizza and bag of chips.
I'll also say that while I was a somewhat picky eater as a child, as I've grown older my tastes have developed and changed. The broccoli I absolutely hated as a child is the same food that I have never gotten enough of from age 12 on. The cornbread that I refused to eat all through my childhood and teen years (except as Thanksgiving dressing) is the stuff I love now. I still don't like black-eyed peas or field peas or butter beans or anything of the sort.... I do like a small amount of black beans (usually as part of a soup or corn salad), and I love kidney beans in chili, but that's about the extent of my bean adventures.
About a year ago, we had a catered luncheon at work from a local upscale barbecue place. One of their sides that came was cooked collard greens, cooked "southern-style." Flavored with ham and onions. I needed a couple of extra veggie servings that day, and I knew I couldn't count macaroni as a vegetable (much as most meat-and-three places try to convince me otherwise). So with much trepidation, I got a small serving of the collards. I wouldn't have called it love at first bite, but I did go back for seconds.
Now, eating Smoke on the Water's collards is one thing. But to fix them myself is another. And to venture even further is yet another. But it happened. I was passing through Durham NC a few weeks ago and stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch. And with hardly a second thought, one of the sides I ordered was the turnip greens. Now that was love at first bite. I downed them pretty quickly. It had to be a fluke, right? I mean, really, there's no way this can be happening to me.
This past week, I went to Whole Foods' hot bar for lunch. One of the veggies? "Southern-style Collards"...... and they were very good.
What is happening to me? Are black-eyed peas next (I like their music, but....)?