Southern Living: The Most Underrated Way to Live

Growing up in the South I was often surrounded by people consistently putting the area down. Oh how they naive and wrong those people were and are. The South is a prime place to call home for multiple reasons. Firstly the food located in our godly region is the best in the country, perhaps the world ( I’ll fight you if you disagree). Food is a way of life and so much compassion and time is put into it, therefore  it is top quality. With southern weather, especially in the Mid-South, you have a chance to enjoy every season our planet throws at us. Recreation is plentiful in the south, pick your poison. it is a great place and way to live, so get your mind right people.

Food, oh how we love food. On top of our love for good food, we have the chance to live in the “great food capital of the world”, as it was just coined. No matter where you find yourself in God’s country ( the South) you re never too far from some delicious. Of course you have BBQ, and every regions different way of preparing the smoked goodness. Then you have your chicken fried everything, and that is the way we like. Is our type of food healthy? God no. Is it divine to the taste buds? You bet your sweet ass. If it were healthy we would not brag about, or be such  a happy people.

In the South you legitimately get a taste of all four seasons. Who wants to live in California where it feels like the beginning of summer for an entire year? Not this guy. I love the feeling of the weather starting to cool, and getting to break out the jeans and flannels. Winter definitely has its downsides but i do enjoy it, you get to enjoy a bonfire and have the chance for a white Christmas, which is just magical.. The summers are often hot, but that is what air conditioning and bodies of water are for, so stop whining and enjoy yourself. Lets not forget about spring, oh how grand spring can be. The warm weather returning and everyone returning to their normal good moods.

If you enjoy the outdoors the South is the place for you. We have the mountains in the East if hiking is your bag. Lets not forget those bodies of water. Fishing is amazing down here, you have the coast, rivers, and lakes skittered throughout the region filled with water critters just waiting for you to come and capture them. Let not forget about sports and how much better we are than everyone else at them. When I say sports I am of course talking about the southern trinity: Football, Basketball, and my personal least favorite Baseball. We are better and we know it. I hate it when I hear people bad talk where we live when if they would just stop and think about it they would realize how good we have it.

Southern Food is Life (Photo Essay)

Sweet Ice Tea

Sweet tea is the corner stone to any southern meal. Besides breakfast that is. This liquid gold is a must to any quality southern home.I can not remember a family meal where the drink on everyone’s place mat was this incredible creation. It has to power to to turn a bad day into a good one.

While i my self am not extremely fond of pickled okra like the rest of my family, I am a fan of other ways to prepare the southern veggie. While steaming and grilling okra are excellent there is only real way to serve this vegetable. That style is of course fried, fried okra compliments any meal, add hot sauce and the meal can take a delicious turn.

While its know that the south, and especially Memphis is famous for BBQ, but we as Memphians know some of the best BBQ comes from home. My dad has had and used this smoker to make some of the best smoked pork, chicken, and beef. While my father has taught me many tings I will be able to use later in my life, I am most thankful for the knowledge of properly smoking various meat.

Again, I realize that this photo is not technically something you can actually eat, but it represents southern tradition. Venison (deer meat) is a a beautiful thing. While it is not the easiest meat to come by, it is quite delicious if prepared right. Along with being just great in flavor, it is a much leaner meat that beef or pork. My dad and I frequent our hunting spots and with luck we can harvest enough deer meat to fill an entire freezer. My family over the years has filled a small cook book of different recipes of deliciousness.

Grits. What is more southern than grits in the morning? I am not the most traveled person around, and the few northern cities i have visited do not have a good place to acquire this delicious southern dish. Add some cheese to grits and you my firned have a fine meal, that is easy and extremely cheap to make.

What is more down home than preserves? They are some what like jam and jelly, but better. My grandmother, for as long as I can remember, has not been able to resist the urge to jar and preserve fruit for later dates. I can not remember the last time i have needed to actually buy jelly or jam.

I find myself always coming back to fried food, and that is in no way a bad thing. I don’t know what it is that drives us southerners to throw all kinds of food into the frier. Out of everything that has found it way into the frier, pickles have proven to be one of the best one of the greatest appetizers around.

What more needs to be said about fried catfish and hush puppies? if you do not hve someone that is willing to make this for you there are multiple restaurants in the city of Memphis who would be happy to. Soul Fish being my personal favorite.

Still hungry after that delicious fried or smoked southern dinner? What better way to continue to gorge yourself than pie. What kind of pie you ask? Pecan Pie, that’s what kind. I can not imagine a finer way to end a meal.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner you will most likely come into contact with these puppies.

Cobbler. Peach, cranberry, cherry, blackberry, strawberry cobbler. It is a butter based desert, anyone with a soul knows that is the best kind of desert. If you have saved room from that pecan pie (we all know you did) grab a slab of this next a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ah cornbread. Just another picture perfect side dish to any southern cuisine. Accompanied with a good stew (venison of course) any innocent by-stander could find themselves polishing off an entire pan of the maize inspired bread.

Biscuits may be the best breakfast food in the world. As mentioned before i am not a travel guru, but one question I have for northerners is what is the big deal with toast? If i had been subjected to toast breakfast for my entire life I am sure i would be rude all of the time as well. The family I stayed with claimed to have never purchased grits and had never thought to buy biscuits. We did not get along much after that early morning conversation.

What can i say that already has not been said about fried chicken? Not a lot is the answer, forgive my french, but it is damn good. If you can find man woman/man who can fry chicken marry them immediately. Until you find that special someone, Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken will do the trick and then some.



More Than a Meal.

All over the country food is an important piece to people”s culture and can be a part of traditions past through a family. It could be argued that it is even more than that in the South. Food is a way of life, obviously food is essential for one to live, but in the south we believe that great food is essential to human life. For us it does so much more than nourish our bodies, it soothes the soul, it brings friends and family together, and if done right it can knock your socks off. The tradition of certain foods being passes down from generation to generation in southern families keeping many types of food very popular and relevant in the southeast region. Foods that one can only get in the south, well get right in the south. Food is just on a entirely different level here than anywhere else.

The south s the fattest region in the nation and most likely world. I believe that is because it is just that easy to gain weight in the south. Lets face it all of the food that we consider to be good are not very good for you. I am speaking to our love for “Soul Food” and our knack to fry anything that will fit in said fryer. While the fact that a good number of southerners put on their excessive weight by living on the McDonald’s diet, many others did it in a delicious and rich way. The fact that we crave these fried pieces of gold is not our fault it is in our blood.

I know that I am not the only one that grew up going to grandma’s house for a meal that would satisfy not only the body but also the soul. These foods have been passed down for generations and kept alive for yeas and years, and with luck the generations to follow will keep these family traditions alive. Such foods are not just prevalent in families but in this region. Many of the foods people have come to love were the product of hard times that fell on our ancestors. When these hard times it many found cheap ways to give food flavoring, and with tweaking of recipes over the years one could not live without these delicious foods and spices. Again, while they are not the healthiest things for you, i can assure it tastes much better than salad. Speaking of vegetables, the south has of course made it possible for vegetable not only be great tasting but also terrible for your arteries. Yes, I am talking about frying veggies, fried okra, fried cauliflower, fried zucchini, and friend squash. All at one point were healthy and bland, on trip to the south and they are covered in fried breading and irresistible.

For other parts of the country and world what makes them stand out are things like landscapes and shopping centers. We have all of those things plus much, much more. We have food that can not be rivaled ( unless you are a vegan or suffered some terrible injury that has left you without the sense of smell and taste bud).  It has put us on the maps across the globe and the reason why we can not seem to stay on a diet for more than three weeks. It is something that brings people together and causes joy from you first bite to the last and gives you something to crave until the next time that family member decides to spoil the family with again. Food is a corner stone that makes the south awesome, and possibly the best place to live in the world.


A Basketball Addicted City in the South

Do not get me wrong I am not saying that Memphis is the only area in the southeast that loves basketball. I am saying that when the weather starts declining in temperature that most of this SEC ridden area begins to drool over the idea of gathering around a TV and watching the sport of football. In Memphis jackets and pants weather can only mean one thing, that the Tigers and Grizzlies are about to do what they do best and get cheered on by the blood curdling yells of some of the best fans in the country. Again, just to clear my name I love football, I really do, but growing up a Memphis Tigers fan has made me numb to the negative effects of your school not having a stellar football season. When it comes to my cities’ basketball teams my expectations go from ground level to bursting through the ceiling. I expect nothing but greatness as each season approaches. Most of the conversations between my friends and myself consist of how far we believe the Tigers and Grizzlies with go in the ensuing season.

When that first loss comes whether it be from the defending national champs or some team we fluffed the schedule with they both hurt, bad. We all have that sick feeling in our stomachs that sticks with us until the next game and win. When that first big win comes there is enough electricity running through your body to heat your house for the winter, and all you can think or talk about for the next few days are the plays and players that impressed you the most.

The thing that also happens in Memphis during basketball season that makes the sport seem that much more magical is that the city seems to unite during the limited gap in time that is basketball season. No matter what social class you come from during that winning season you never seem to have trouble talking and cheering with anyone around you. The mood seems lighter wherever you go. If the good Lord allows it and the Tigers make an impressive run in March or the Grizzlies slug their way through the western conference tournament the whole city is seemingly watching the same thing.  No matter the outcome we always keep our sense of pride about our basketball teams, almost as to say “yeah, you beat us but we are still better than you.”

All around us there are people cheering for their schools on the gridiron while we sit patiently waiting the moment where we get to pack ourselves into the FedEx Forum and scream like Romans spectating gladiators.  It is that brutality that brings us together and makes one of the best basketball fan base around. While I wish the city could have the comrodery we seem to have during basketball season all the time, I can deal with five months a year for now. With March Madness less than twenty-four hours away, I know i am not the only one who is screaming in their seats in excitement.


Growing Older in Memphis

Like many I grew up hearing mostly negative things about living in Memphis, I was often too nervous to speak out against the naysayers. It only grew worse in high school, always hearing classmates say things like “I can not wait to leave this city”, and “after I graduate I am never coming back here.” I on the other hand never felt this way, I grew up in a house where a University of Memphis flag hung right outside our front door and the Cooper-Young festival was a annual tradition. I loved the city as a kid and teenager. When time to apply to colleges came around it was a no-brainier for me, I wanted to go to Memphis. Everyone else around me felt quite the opposite. It was not until my later years in college that I noticed a sudden change in most people’s attitudes towards our hometown, they very suddenly became huge fans of the city and things in it. While I believe a huge part of the new fan base for the city was based largely on the recent success of the local professional basketball team, it became apparent that other reasons lingered.

While Memphis has its obvious down falls, it has accumulated a large number of positive aspects as well. These positive aspects being the post-graduate options for young people fresh out of college. The first aspect is the number of graduate school programs that have sprouted in Memphis over the years and made quit the name for themselves. The Humphrey’s School of Law being located downtown and climbing the later in rankings is not only attracting kids to stay or return home for further schooling but it also attracts students from out of state to come and live in Memphis.  The University of Tennessee Health and Science center has multiple programs that are ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation and do an amazing job getting top students from all around to attend school. Finally the University of Memphis’ program for Speech Pathology and Audiology is ranked in the top fifteen in the nation and is a huge reason the University got to leave the death trap that is the C-USA. As we all know you have an extremely high chance of living in the city that you attended graduate school in (Or at least near by) especially if you attend law school. After all, the connections you make will most like with people in the school’s area. So we can thank these post-grad programs for retaining  young people who will improve the city socially and economically.

Another huge benefit of moving or moving back the the Bluff city is the low cost of living. Chances are that most kids that are freshly graduated are not rolling in the dough. Which makes living in Memphis a fantastic option for young people. Forbes Magazine had Memphis in the top ten place to live for young working  men and women due to the low cost of living and job opportunities. Anything that can reduce debt and make paying new bills easier is a great thing in my humble opinion. Also, with the young and vibrant community growing the the midtown area it is not hard for young people to find a part of town they would love to live. Midtown, specifically the Cooper-Young area and grown and now provide young Memphians attractive places to eat, shop, and spend their late nights.

So it is really no surprise that most of my high school friends and changed their tune about living in the blue collar town. It is quite humorous to see them all end up back in their home town, and then actually enjoy it. I would love to be that guy who gets to say I told you so and that I have loved this city longer than any of you, but lets be honest, not one likes that guy. It is a great sign that young college graduates are filling the city and allowing it grow in multiple aspects.