By Todd Starne
(FOX News & Commentary) The New York Times has declared down home Southern cooking undignified in a story that heaped praise on a new generation of Southern chefs while denigrating fried chicken, Cracker Barrel restaurants and the Queen of Southern Food — Paula Deen.
The food snobs at the Times attacked Miss Paula in the second sentence of their lengthy diatribe – calling her a “so-called queen of Southern food, who cooks with canned fruit and Crisco.”
The Times bemoaned the “hayseed image” of Southern cooking while praising “a new generation of chefs who have pushed Southern cooking into the vanguard of world cuisine.”
Their headline proclaimed – “Vanquishing the Colonel – Farmers work with chefs to restore Southern cuisine’s dignity.”
You can read the entire story by clicking here.
“Today, purists believe, Southern cooking is too often represented by its worst elements: feedlot hams, cheap fried chicken and chains like Cracker Barrel,” the Times whined.
Perhaps The New York Times should consider first restoring its own dignity before launching a crusade against shrimp and grits.
It seems to me that the “so-called” queen of Southern cooking should fly up to New York City and take a cast iron skillet to the backside of the “so-called” newspaper that printed such nonsense.
But Miss Paula is a genteel Southern lady and would probably just shake her head and say, “Oh Lord, y’all.”
So as a proud son of the South, I believe it is my duty to defend the honor of our skillet fried chicken, our ham hocks and our sweet potato pies. Nobody speaks ill of butter and gets away with it.
I’ll take a Cracker Barrel Meat Loaf sandwich and a slice of their Double Chocolate Fudge Coca Cola Cake any day of the week — over the slop they serve at those five-star New York City restaurants.
Does The Old Gray Lady really want to pick a food fight with Alabama or Mississippi? There’s a reason why the Magnolia State is the plumpest in the nation — it’s called banana pudding.
In New York City, they eat boiled animal tongues. In the South we use our tongues for licking our fingers.
Southerners eat buttermilk biscuits and sip frosty glasses of sweet tea. New Yorkers nosh bagels and drink seltzer water.
New Yorkers eat fermented soy and tuna tartar – while folks in Tennessee eat fried catfish – with tarter sauce.
As an expatriated Southerner living in Brooklyn, I’ve come to realize that this quest to redefine Southern cuisine has taken root in the Big Apple. Chefs who couldn’t succeed in Dixie have moved north to ply their trade. It’s a movement called, “New Southern Cuisine.”
To be fair, I decided to visit one of those so-called “New Southern Cuisine” restaurants the other day. To their credit, they served sweet tea. But that’s about the only southern thing in the building.
The first item on the menu was “Black-eyed Pea Hummus.”
The waiter brought my iced tea and suggested I try something they called “Arugula Smear.”
I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat it or wipe it.
I paid for my sweet tea, went home and whipped up a batch of Miss Paula’s macaroni and cheese. And as I sat down at my table, I prayed this prayer:
“Dear Jesus, thank you for butter. Amen.”
So let this column be a warning to my fellow Southerners. Take up your cast iron skillets and prepare to defend our kitchens from the Yankee invaders. And let our rally cry be heard from the beaches of Biloxi to the mountains of Gatlinburg – the only good chicken is a fried chicken.
So praise the Lord and pass the biscuits.