Love & Relationships

CALABAMAN CORNBREAD

 

A multicultural magazine?  Who would think that a third generation Bay Area California gal would have anything multicultural to write about?  I’ve been here all my life.  My father was born in San Francisco, his mother was born on a farm in what is now Ross, California.  My mother was from the midwest.  Pretty Americana if you ask me.  So, multicultural?   That happens when a California gal falls in love and marries a good old southern boy!  My husband is from Alabama and WOW who knew that would be such a cultural divide?

Of course there is the accent, and I am one of those people who hears it and automatically speaks it.  So now I am a Calabaman.  There is also a language of the south that for the most part has not hit California yet.  I am learning new words and expressions all the time, though this is the first time I have tried to put them to paper, so who knows how they are (spelt) spelled.  Did you know that if you leave milk out too long it can get rurnt?  That one took me, I laughed til my sides hurt and tears rolled down my face.  I have ruined a thing or two now and then, but never realized it was rurnt.  My husband and I have such fun at these moments.  I actually thought that this was maybe a family expression, not one generally used by southerners, but one day at a hotel in Lake Tahoe, we met a man from Georgia and I eventually had to ask, “Is rurnt a word you are familiar with?”  His response was something  like “Oh ya, that’s something we surly try hard not to do too much.”  So yes folks, it is actually a word used in the south.  You might outta (should consider) check(ing) out some other funny southern words and expressions some time.  You might just have a knee bender or two.

I have come to realize that I am no famous chef when it comes to cooking Southern food.  And yes, EVERYTHING requires butter, Crisco, or some other lubericating fluid that floats, fries, or browns almost anything Southern.  I tried so hard to bake my husband his beloved cornbread.  I added buttermilk, I measured the ingredients carefully, prepared the cast iron pan as directed, I baked it for EXACTLY 22 minutes as instructed by his daddy, but still, it was just not the same in flavor or texture.  Well after asking both his daddy, yup that’s what we call him, and his mother, we came to the realization that the real secret to the success of southern cornbread is the corn meal!  It has to be white and it has to be self rising!  OK, try to find that in ANY store in the Bay Area.  Not possible. So with some online research, I ordered a case, as was the cheapest way to get it, and now I have a years supply of white buttermilk self rising corn meal and have successfully mastered cornbread!  And I really do love it too.  Thank goodness he is not really a fan of fried chicken, as that is something I have never made very well.  My Calfiornia pallet has now been introduced to several other southern staples. I don’t even want to know how many things are made with Velveeta and Miracle Whip.

On the flip side, my husband has now eaten many things that I could not find on the menu in Alabama.  We enjoy artichokes, avacados, and spinach dip.  He has eaten my never the same twice pasta salads, and he has made me some wonderful chicken dishes, though I know I would probibly be banned of the south if I were to admit that chicken and dumplings is NOT my thing!  Okra can stay in the south as far as I am concerned. He is open to almost everything I cook and though his oil tank is probibly a quart low, he does not seem to miss it, as long as he gets his cornbread.

Alabama is a beautiful state, and Huntsville, which is where he is from, houses the US Space and Rocket Center, which helped to boost the population to over 180,000 people.  But even with this growth, the area has not lost its forests or waterways.  Situated in the Tennessee River Valley  surrounded by the Cumberland Plateau and many other mountainous areas, Huntsville is a great example of technology meets country charm.  That charm is matched by the warmth of its residents.  I have said in the past, that I would probibly have to move to the south to meet a gentleman, but only kidding with the girls. It was just all in fun. I never really thought that with all the men there are in California, I would end up with a truely southern gentleman. He always opens my door and gets upset if I forget to let him. He carries in the groceries, and always shows his respect during the national anthem. Being from the Bible Belt, he shows respect for the Lord too. And his warm and loving nature is a reflection of true southern hospitality. His family embraced me with warmth and love. They made me feel comfortable and at home wherever we went. Southern hospitality is no myth. Viva cultural differences!

 Being married to a southern born man has brought me so many wonderful moments.  I love the expressions, the tales and jokes, and the warm and deep rooted traditions that make our multicultural marriage fun and interesting.