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U.S. Southern Soul Food [split from UK board]

n
Nii Oct 29, 2011 01:44 PM

You're not going to find Southern style U.S cooking in Brixton - why would you? Brixton's 'ethnic' community, and I'm assuming you mean Caribbean, mostly eat food from their native home; there is no correlation to U.S Soul food. A restaurant of that nature might do well if one opened up though, simply because the area is so culinary diverse.

  1. FrBill Oct 29, 2011 06:24 PM

    Good morning Zuriga and Nii!

    Ah, here is where some of my ignorance surfaces. I always thought that the very essence of 'Southern' cooking was actually in fact Soul Food - that mélange of essences and spices derived from multiple cultures, as well as suffering, coming together - African base, enhanced as the slaves moved up through Brazil where many of the spices carried from the far east were added, then drawn into the Caribbean where the slaves were left to colonise. Then the creativity and quality that the white masters had been served evolved into a trend of sorts. That's the only reason I thought there could be that similarity in places like Brixton where so much of the Caribbean foods are. I think I've had this thought for years but it was slightly enforced by the Mama Cherri place in Brighton.

    I've never eaten at Bodean's. It sounds enticing, especially Avec the onion rings! .

    I have occasionally made stabs at making my own 'fried chicken.' The best I can say is that at least we didn't have to say our prayers AFTER we ate! Actually, if I were completely humble, I do make a fairly passable southern meal. It's just that I'm pathetically lazy and I'd much prefer someone else dredge themselves in flour and spices and let me just be content doing nothing but grazing and making guttural yummy noises of approval !.

    Fr B+

    -----
    Bodeans
    Poland St, London, Greater London W1F 7, GB

    13 Replies
    1. re: FrBill
      zuriga1 Oct 29, 2011 11:09 PM

      Just guessing but would imagine that the food of the Caribbean is quite different than American Southern food because of the ingredients found in the two locations - and the spices. And there were a few hundred years or more to develop what was cooked and things change. I can't remember if Jamaican people, for example, eat grits or fry their chicken with heavy coatings etc.

      1. re: zuriga1
        Matt H Oct 30, 2011 07:15 AM

        I agree that the food is different, but there are definitely some connections between Jamaican and African American Soul Food. For example dishes like Calaloo prepared the Jamaican way share more similarities with Southern Collard Greens than Trinidadian Calaloo.

        Another example is Oxtail, the way we prepare it in Jamaica is very similar (minus the Jerk seasoning of course) to Slow cooked Southern American Oxtail than the way they stew it in Guyana and Trinidad.

        Another interesting region to look into is the Gullah/Geechie of South Carolina and the connection to Jamaica for both food and language.

        Of course this has alot to do with our predominantly African heritage that we share with the Southern US, but if you are looking for authentic American Soul Food a Caribbean restaurant would not completely fill that void.

        1. re: Matt H
          FrBill Oct 30, 2011 09:28 AM

          Hey Matt!

          You've aroused my interest! I visited both Savannah and Charleston and stayed with a family who originally came from Jamaica. Their heritage was from Kenya and their grandparents were trafficked into the Caribbean. The food they served was just beyond amazing! I've not heard the term collard greens since I left them. One dinner we had was with collards, macaroni & cheese, fried chicken, and potato salad...All I could do was lie on the floor and moan! And Mrs Russell made a peach pie the likes I've never had in my life...I think it was actually called a cobbler, made in a deep dish....but again, it was the chicken that I still remember most and I've never been able to recreate it at home...I wish those towns weren't so difficult to get to..it's a six hour drive from Atlanta, there's no train from there either, unless I wanted to go due north or south..but such lovely people and such wonderful food! They invited me to preach at their church and the afternoon caught me in a miasma of scents and flavours from the 'covered dish' meal they held in the church hall afterwards. There's just something about the people and the foods that make the experience beyond description and I'm not one who is often challenged for words!

          So I gather everyone, I need to strike this one as a write off. If I want that ever-elusive fried chicken, it's going to cost me an airline ticket and a refresher course on how to turn monosyllabic words into trisyllabics.

          Thank you y'all. :-)

          Fr Bill+

          1. re: FrBill
            mamachef Nov 19, 2011 04:00 PM

            Bet you can find an awesome cobbler recipe, though....

          2. re: Matt H
            w
            Wawsanham Dec 15, 2011 03:59 PM

            I'm sure there is also a very strong European connection in US Southern cooking. Calaloo and other "greens" type dishes remind me of various dishes (spinach, cabbage dishes) you can get in German or other European cuisines. Even the habit of braising or cooking the greens in pork fat is a big similarity between traditional German and Southern food.

            1. re: Wawsanham
              FrBill Dec 16, 2011 12:22 AM

              Good morning Wawsanham! Indeed you are correct. I work in Eastern Europe (Moldova and Transylvania), and I have discovered that many of the dishes I'm served have close similarity to the dishes I had when I visited the deep south of the states...I think...and this is just a rhetorical comment...I think this is partly reflective of the poverty encountered on both sides. During the wars many of the Russians cooked grass to survive. I'm sure they must have experimented with many of the Kale family greens and those ideas moved around the world. I've tried to imagine what similar green is in African countries, but sadly my knowledge is too limited. I know the great Zulu tribes made a bush soup which consisted of an abundant desert bush...too many years and the name now has left me...but this may be partially the root. And a lady from Atlanta told me her grandmother made a dish from a rampant weed that exists in the south called Kudzu...I believe it's similar to our nettles which indeed do make a nice soup.

              Be well

              Fr B+

              1. re: FrBill
                alkapal Dec 16, 2011 01:35 AM

                kudzu isn't like nettles.
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu

                1. re: alkapal
                  FrBill Dec 16, 2011 02:15 AM

                  Clearly I got the weed wrong. Many apologies

                  Fr B+

                  1. re: FrBill
                    alkapal Dec 16, 2011 06:57 AM

                    haha, i had never read the wiki before on kudzu, so i found it interesting to see the weeds' many benefits. i've just known it as the wholly invasive and aggressive weed along highways and byways (and over abandoned barns or homes) in the rural south. http://www.jjanthony.com/kudzu/barns....

                    nettles only dream of having such power. LOL.

                    1. re: alkapal
                      FrBill Dec 16, 2011 08:13 AM

                      Indeed, it's interesting stuff. The lady who told me about Kudzu told me a story about a neighbour who took revenge on another not-so-nice neighbour who went out of the country for an entire summer. The week the neighbour left the country, her nemesis planted several strands of kudzu around the base of their home. When the returned in September the entire front of the house was covered and the kudzu had seeped into parts of the house through the windows! I'm not sure whether it was an exaggeration or not, but sounded interesting. I do remember people at the party that evening laughing and reciting a mantra of 'plant some kudzu and run like hell!'

                      I do know it's not an exaggeration that the american railways in the south actually have to use trains that belch fire along the tracks to scorch the kudzu so it doesn't literally pull the rails from their sleepers and cause a derailment!

                      Fr B+

            2. re: Matt H
              w
              Wawsanham Apr 10, 2012 08:20 AM

              The African component is only one part of Southern Cooking. The fried chicken, green beans, corn bread, ribs, white bread/biscuits, potatoes. etc... are not particularly African at all. Southern food is a mix of influences.

          3. re: FrBill
            k
            kittybumble Apr 9, 2012 10:23 AM

            Being southern, I've never seen much connection between southern food and South American/Carribean food with the possible exception of New Orleans with its influences being from very different sources than the rest of the south such as more French, Spanish, more prominently African and yes, even some Carribean. Though I might be more ignorant than you are on New Orleans having never been.

            Southern food is very regional, so my idea of southern food would be very different from someone from, say, Alabama (I was raised in Virginia and North Carolina). But when I think of southern food, I tend to think along the same lines as Edna Lewis did in her cook books. If you've never read any of hers, I strongly strongly encourage you to do so. All are among my fav's. There's one that was co-authored with Scott Peacock of Alabama (Lewis is from Virginia), and he mentions the regional differences as well. He seems to think that Virginia's influences tend to be more Englishy with some Frenchyness thrown in, whereas Alabama has more African type influences. I think he might be right with that one.

            It's pretty hard to pidgeon-hole the influences on the south's cooking. A lot of it is just very basic cooking with people using what has historically been available, which is why a lot of native American ingredients are used such as cornmeal and sassafrass in their various forms, wild game, greens such as dandelion, creasy, poke, etc. and fruits such as crabapple, wild grapes, persimmon. various berries, etc. As well as veggies, fruits, and animals that were brought in from Europe and Africa. Because it was formed on local ingredients, this is why it's so regional. There's a broad southern cuisine with different types of southern cuisine within it. It's not European, it's not African, it's uniquely American.

            Hope that wasn't too long lol.

            1. re: kittybumble
              FrBill Apr 10, 2012 04:44 AM

              Good morning Kitty

              That was a lovely and adept comparison. Thank you very much indeed. The times I got to spend in 'the south' (With the greatest respect to the 'Mason-Dixon' line I still am challenged to accurately define where the South ends and the North begins, especially in this world of amalgamated cultures), I did find I was able to note a gradual change in traditions used in cooking styles. I was blessed with the gift of being able to stay as a guest in the homes of many people, particularly those whose families had been foundations of their communities. The experience was among memories I cherish most in my life. I also had the honour of staying with several families who came from the most humble of backgrounds. Their great grand-parents had been slaves on the surrounding land and they lived in the same house/cabin in which their grandparents grew up. I think I learnt more from them as to the root of Southern cooking than I did from the wealthy families I stayed with. I believe this was due to an understandable evolving of diet based upon economic conditions. The dishes I enjoyed in Virginia (Norfolk, Roanoke, Hot Springs) all had many similarities of historic British ingredients (just as you have mentioned - roasts, carrots, grapes, etc.) And the dishes I enjoyed in the former plantation areas of the South, Albany Georgia, Ozark Alabama, Hattiesburg Louisiana, etc included lesser meats - 'chitlins' pork liver, hearts. chicken liver, and maize - spoon bread, etc. I'm frustrated with myself as the books I wrote about these journeys, and particularly about the families I stayed with and their recipes are hidden deep in one of the corners of my attic. Once I find someone either brave or daft enough to go up there I hope to get them down so I can refresh my memories and some of the recipes I rather meticulously noted down all those years ago. I would also say by memory that I recall many of the Virginia recipes included cream - perhaps reflective of a French influence...I'm not certain.

              I've just written down Peacock and Lewis and intend to go to ABE Books immediately to see if I can find a copy of these books. I'll enjoy browsing through them.

              Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the thread. I've quite enjoyed visiting this.

              I'll add that for Christmas my daughter gave me a book called Dining By Rail, by James Porterfield. To say I was mesmerised by the book might be a bit over the top, but I was more than fascinated by the detailed regional recipes and the extent that each local railway went to in order to serve multi-regional diners. And it was both frightening and damning to read of the appalling conditions in which the dedicated teams worked and the dismissive attitudes of the executives of the railways and the Pullman Company towards the very people who made the travel experience among the finest in the world.. Whether you're a Gastronome, historian, or rail fan, the book touches every corner of one's heart and imagination.

              Thank you again!

              Fr Bill+

          4. d
            daresymaresy Nov 19, 2011 07:58 AM

            I am a London-based Southerner and I find Bodeans pretty disappointing. As someone said in another post, I wouldn't expect to find authentic British dishes in the US so I can't complain that restaurants in the UK can't replicate my grandmother's cooking! FrBill, I think you might be better off frying your own chicken. (Soak it overnight in buttermilk, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper then fry it in lard.) I've loved reading these posts though...had no idea our humble cuisine had such die-hard fans! (I always feel like such a redneck arriving back at Heathrow with fried chicken and Virginia ham biscuits stashed in my carry-on.) It is lucky I am going home for Christmas because thinking about collard greens and potato salad and devilled eggs and fried okra is making my mouth water. If you do find decent fried chicken here, please let us know. And promise me that you'll include a gluttonous few days in New Orleans on your next trip over. You won't regret it!

            5 Replies
            1. re: daresymaresy
              FrBill Nov 19, 2011 09:34 AM

              Oh Daresymmaresy.....MARRY ME PLEASE! We'll make beautiful collards & fried okra together! May ask please, before the fooz Nazis yank this page away, where in the south are you from? You mentioned ham and my mind went immediately to the Homestead in Hot Springs Va, where I think I had the best country ham with red eye gravy, grits, and scrambeled eggs with 2 inch tall bisuits! I would have married the waitress but neither of us could understand a word the other was saying...my gutteral responses were just yummy sounds and the creaking sound of my belt stretching!

              I think I've mastered the fried chicken. Saw 'The Help' the other evening and promptly ordered a bucket of Crisco though...but otherwise I've got crunch sounds galore coming out of my kitchen from the chicken...it's all the other things I'm rubbish at...but I'm trying..I'm in in the middle of 'chatting' with my friends at All Recipes right this second about...well, what else would it be about? Southern food! I'm trying to make biscuits this weekend...a la Mrs Wilkes, or the Dillard House in North Georgia, or the casino in Albany Georgia...(I'm easy!)..you can see from my profile at allRecipes that food drives me!

              http://allrecipes.com/cook/13033688/p...

              It's a vice to which I happily confess!

              Tomorrow afternoon we're having fried chicken, obliterated green beans (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about!), Potato salad with sweet relish, Mac & Cheese and hopefully these bloomin biscuits which I hope don't turn into door stops!

              Thanks for your kind words!

              Fr Bill+

               
               
              1. re: FrBill
                d
                daresymaresy Nov 19, 2011 11:00 AM

                Ha ha! That chicken looks amazing...I think you've cracked it! I am from southern Virginia...right on the North Carolina border. Nice to see an appreciation for red eye gravy. I try to explain that to English friends and always get disgusted looks. (I know I'm biased but Virginia country ham...mmmmm.) I'm sure your biscuits will be fine just don't add any sugar (wrong, wrong, wrong even if some recipes call for it) and handle the dough as little as possible. I'm very jealous of your Sunday supper! The post below is very true...there is so much variation from state to state. My suggestion is travel around and sample it all!

                1. re: daresymaresy
                  hill food Nov 19, 2011 02:49 PM

                  your breading on the chicken looks right. I soak the chicken parts in salt water first then proceed with daresy's method and do a bound breading (double dip flour-egg/milk wash-flour) but I don't hesitate to toss in powdered garlic, sage and thyme in to the flour)

                  for the greens in Europe I suppose you can sub chard or kale, it won't be the same, but don't forget a little ham hock or lard and some turnips and also use a little vinegar in the boil and have a shaker bottle of peppers marinating in vinegar to 'dress' it as desired.

                  now if you can master biscuits... well then you have the whole package wrapped up.

                  1. re: hill food
                    FrBill Nov 19, 2011 03:10 PM

                    Hi Hill! I think the food Nazis took away the page I wrote about the recipe I'm using. I was taught by the people in South Carolina that the most simple recipe was the best. I definitely wash the chicken in warm water. I don't let it soak, but it does remain damp intentionally.

                    In a bag I drop in flour, about 5-6 vigorous shakes of lemon pepper, an equal amount of shaking of course black pepper and about a quarter palm or 1/2 tablespoon of corn flour...I take the chicken through the equivalent of an epileptic seizure, then drop it into a black skillet of flora oil. (However I am now about to visit the world of Crisco.) It's frying perfectly and with the greatest respect to everyone, it is simply as close as I can get to the glorious flavours I've experienced at Aunt Fanny's Cabin, or DIllard House! I certainly respect and understand about the concept of soaking the chicken in buttermilk or adding paprika, but I've thought back to what my hosts told me about the limitations to what their forefathers had and the simplicity they used in cooking. It's with that thought that I made my first attempt. On that occasion I used far too much corn flour...it was like wall plaster and I chucked it in the bin. Next time I used too little. Now I have it balanced out about right. I'm also mindful of the oil's temperature. I realise with dark meat I must cook it slightly longer and I've learnt that I should NEVER turn the chicken more than once. So I do 7.5 minutes on one side and the same on the other. So far they're turning out fantastic!! So much so in fact that I would not be one bit afraid to compete in a cookery class for frying chicken here in the UK. I'm afraid I'd fail miserably across the pond...but for now...I'm happy as Larry! Now if I can figure out the other things ...I'm doing better with creamed corn...my cornbread stinks...grits are never quite what I hope they will be but practice makes perfect, the potato salad is spot on and I get many requests for the recipe..the Mac& Cheese isn't right but I think that's because what I've enjoyed is made with american cheese which is hardly cheese at all! It's some indecipherable anaemic glop that pretends to be cheese...Kale I've tried but failed with...Collard Greens I can't find here but suspect if I went to Brixton I might find it...Haven't mastered black eyed peas but truthfully they don't really rock my boat...and now I'm working on bakery items such as pound cakes and my biccies...I enjoy doing this as it's relaxing and my daughter loves that when she comes home from Uni on the weekends there are dishes she can take back with her to share with her uni mates, such as buckets of chicken and the P salad... Sadly, country ham will never happen...

                    I now have what I'm told is the absolute truthful receipe for Jimmy Dean sausages and my air hostess friend has brought me the chilis they use in it, so I'm hoping to embark on that for Christmas as I'd love to serve my children Biscuits & Gravy a la Tennessee Valley...time will tell...

                    Thank you for all your input, ideas, suggestions and encouragement everyone!

                    Fr Bill+

                    http://anglicans.blogspot.com/2006/03...

                    1. re: FrBill
                      hill food Nov 19, 2011 04:00 PM

                      I do the salt water soak just to leach out blood in case it was a sloppy butcher. instead of corn meal you might try a little corn starch, really crisps things although too much can give a bitter flavor

                      otherwise your process sounds good, the herb mix is always up to one's own taste.

                      ask your green grocer if they cut the greens off the turnips, they work too.

            2. m
              mpjmph Nov 19, 2011 10:19 AM

              I have a feeling this is going to be a very interesting thread...

              Traditional foods in the Southern US vary from state to state, and within each state. Variations depend on the naturally available ingredients - I'm from a potato growing region, so that is our primary starch, but drive south a few hours, and rice is king. There are variations based on the 18th and 19th century settlement patterns of European immigrants. Again, I'm from an area that was largely settled by English and Irish, but a few hours south you will find more French and Spanish influences, and to the West there were a lot of German settlers. There are also based on based on where the African slaves in a region came from.

              So long explanation short, you actually will find a lot of similarities between US Southern soul food, Caribbean food, and even African food. Gullah culture in South Carolina and Georgia is the most striking example of this, but there are more subtle similarities as well.

              23 Replies
              1. re: mpjmph
                FrBill Nov 19, 2011 12:31 PM

                Thanks all! I had the honour of visiting a friend in Charleston where she took me to her parents home where I was served a full Gullah Sunday dinner! As I recall, they had to roll me out of the place. But you are absolutely right! The flavours between what I was quickly becoming addicted to in Savannah and a bit farther South ...near Jacksonville...were strikingly different! One family on Fort George Island came from the area around Roanoke Roanoke Virginia and they were the first to introduce me to and teach me how to make Red Eye! And that was my first experience with having the luxury of a slice (or slab) of Smithfield Ham on my breakfast plate, half-smothered with course hominy grits, the other half smothered with what they called 'soft-scrambled' eggs....the red eye complimented all of it, drawing the flavours from the ham and grits and the eggs acting as what I can only describe as a buffer.

                This was the same month I fell in love with....well, it was probably a severe case of prickly heat...a girl who worked at a Waffle House. I was mesmerised by the way she scrambled the eggs. Talk about Hip Action! Amazing, even all these years later. She had more movement in her hips than a Dulux paint mixer! (apologies, I digress a bit)...anyway..the girl was from somewhere the Virginia/Carolina border...a place, if I remember correctly called Danville.

                I invited her to travel with me on my explorations and share with me as much history as she could. In fact, I probably wouldn't have minded if she even made it up!

                We went to a place called the Hotel Roanoke - a delightful tudor style hotel owned by a Virginia Railway company...this is where I had my second experience with the Smithfield luxury...this time amidst the luxury of a magnificent dining room with silver cutlery, crystal glasses and dishes bordered with lovely gentle looking dogwood...somehow it made the gargantuan size of ham, wading in a sea of the red-eye and grits even more alluring...(the girl didn't hurt matters either!).. From there....and I'm remembering this now as if it were yesterday...we went to ...Natural Bridge? It was a colonial style hotel, perhaps a bit tired looking, but with a dining room that had perhaps seen its best following the second war...nevertheless, not only did I have my third slice of country ham, the chef actually invited me into his kitchen to show me how to make the Red Eye..it was so amazingly simple! The sad part is that here at home, with the absence of country ham or anything that would even remotely resemble it, it simply doesn't fit anywhere on an English plate. How sad to say, but oh so true..

                The gentleman who cooked at the Natural Bridge also cooked for half of each year up in the mountains at a place called 'The Homestead.'

                That was the end of my life as I knew it! This is where set among the opulance of a resort hosting the deep south's old money, I could not only luxuriate in the mineral baths each morning, have a massage, and dine to an orchestra each night on some of the finest beef I've ever had in my life, I could also have...listen to this...as MANY slices of country ham I cared to have, served to my room each morning, each with a serving bowl of grits, a plate of butter milk biscuits, wrapped in a linen towel, and orange juice that tasted as if they had squeezed it themselves ten minutes earlier!! I think the Homestead was one of the most difficult places to leave I've ever experienced in my life! The last three nights took me to West Virginia where I stayed at a place called the Greenbrier...another railway owned resort...it's hard to explain that whilst it was virtually impossible for me to ask for anything...they always anticipated what I was going to ask, including my morning infusion of red eye - where for the first time I was asked whether there was any particular style of coffee I would prefer it made with - the place was just far to eleguent and OTT for me. The guests weren't the warm, lovely, content and genteel people of the south, these were more like people who demanded to be seen and demanded to be noticed...a bit like people who fly in economy who've for whatever reason ended up with an upgrade and they're going to milk it for everything they could. The staff were lovely and somehow seemed to endure the guests...I later learned that the bulk of the staff worked for the US Government in one form or another as it was a Cold War hiding spot for the US Senate and Congress where they hid in bunkers beneath a mountain whilst missles popped back and forth across the polar points...in any event, it was lovely, but my heart was back at the Homestead, Dillard House, Mrs Wilkes in Savannah, and a couple of little homes run by local residents where I was introduced to buiscuits and gravy, ham hocks, collards, black eye peas and a range of other goodies... Dareym...you've brought back some lovely gentle memories from the past, thank you very much indeed! I feel as if I want to go scramble a few eggs! In fact, I might even dig out a cup of grits from the freezer in the morning before church and cater to this obsession! Pity about the ham! MPJ, that is most interesting what you've shared. I must plead my ignorance about the rice. I drove the breadth and width of the US 4 times in my youth, doing my version of a William Least Heat Moon journey, where I followed not only the blue highways, but the route of the original american railroad routes...I was doing this for a book. But not once do I recall anyone sharing this fascinating information about the rice! I did Nebraska, where all they could talk about was beef, Iowa, where all they could do was talk about Nebraskans, Kansas, where I lingered for several days at the Brookville Hotel...another panacea of culinary delights in the centre of the USA, and I did a quick run across Oklahoma, where all they talked about was Oral Roberts! As I remember, the first and only place I had a bowl of rice was in Truth or Consequences New Mexico and that was only because the family I met were originally from Vietnam.

                Thank you for sharing friends!

                Fr Bill+

                1. re: FrBill
                  m
                  mpjmph Nov 19, 2011 02:12 PM

                  I'm surprised you didn't encounter rice in South Carolina. During the 18th and 19th centuries, rice exports were a major part of the coastal SC economy. There isn't much rice grown in the area now, save for a few niche producers, but rice is still a large part of Lowcountry cuisine.

                  1. re: mpjmph
                    FrBill Nov 19, 2011 02:33 PM

                    I'm so sorry, I had not been clear..Indeed I had rice with my Gullah friends and I had copious quanties of rice in New Orleans with my Jambalaya... I felt you were alluding to the midwestern or central parts of the states...which I suppose I could be rather vague about as well...northern Missouri, such as St Louis, then Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, etc...not a single grain of rice was offered or mentioned...it was a meat & potato kind of experience and some jolly nice chicken as I recall at some of the farms I was invited to.

                    One thing I love about the states is the diversity and the pockets of flavours that exist, particularly those of the south where there is that unique melange of flavours that come from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean and then in the north the influence from the Swedish Lutheran influence...I remember even having several dinners in a small polish community in northern Colorado...

                    I had dreamt of following the Orego trail for several years. I was never successful in that dream but I remain hopeful. I think there's lots to learn and plenty to share with others.

                    I did do an extended journey along the Willimate River, but it never yielded as much cultural diversity as I had hoped for. But when I crossed into California I was spoilt for choice between the Chinese whose parents worked on the railways and the Mexican families who migrated into the states to better the future for their children. A real eye-opener!

                    May all your journeys be ones of discovery !

                    Fr Bill+

                    1. re: FrBill
                      f
                      Foodassasin Nov 27, 2011 12:19 PM

                      FrBill, its interesting to hear your comments about our region of the US the South. Im a serious 40yr old Southerner foodie who also pays close attention to perceptions of food as well. I remember one interesting comment made by Gordon Ramsey a while ago : "American food" was summarized by "the hamburger". Nothing could be more insulting for a serious food person in the US. Of course this was before he started traveling the US and found out that he had never been to Lousiana before 5 yrs ago....WHAT??? LOL, i forgive him as he found a southern food church and repented. The hamburger is a staple of fast food in the US much as curry is the UK(I assume, please correct me if Im wrong). But that trend is changing....tex mex, fresh mex and mexican food is running rampant. As for as traditional real Southern Food its about comfort. Its philosophy is simple: its all about comfort. It is not healthy. Fat, salt, sugar, butter in abundance. Its all here. It is not shy about its use it good eating. Many things are fried(yes like the chicken). Compare our corn meal batter versus the beer batter next time you serve some fish and chips at home. You will find the texture interesting and the taste of corn is an added element.

                      Southern breakfast is a wonderful experience that hasnt been done outside the US in my travels.

                      As for our influences, the South is as much a textbook on cultural migration as can be said on any other cuisine save Philipino food.

                      English setllers influenced by indians is one element. The spanish influence on seafood is another but not as prevalent. The French's amazing ability to transform indiginous animals and plants into a new cuisine is another. Then there is the African slave trade who made a significant and little noted impact on southern cuisine. As to Caribbean food(of which I love immensely) it has some parallel because of the African island plantations for rum and sugar, but it is not southern food.

                      Next time you are in a major metropolitan area all you need to go is any town off the beaten path on a Sunday and you will find family restaurants that do the best cooking as any publically known. As I do when I go to the UK and get out of London, I go where the locals tell me. They never let me down.

                      PS check out Southern barbeque next time. It is also a "religious" experience. I look forward to your comments.

                      1. re: Foodassasin
                        hill food Nov 27, 2011 08:49 PM

                        assassin - I'm with you on fish fried in corn batter vs flour/beer batter (and as long as you have the batter and oil going, may as well re-imagine the hush puppie), there are no better onion rings than those in corn batter.

                        1. re: hill food
                          FrBill Nov 28, 2011 05:53 AM

                          Oh My Hill...Hushpuppies! This is like a visit to a Victoria's Secret for food! Adore them! Just saw the film 'The Help' which is why I ordered off of Amazon three tubs of Crisco! Best HP's I've ever had was at a 'shrimp House' on a long deserted road that ran between Savannah and Little Tybee 9 I think that's how it's spelled) Island. Couldn't understand a word the woman was saying, which is similar here to speaking with someone from Somerset! (Sorry Somerset!)..Everything was fried - Popcorn Shrimp they called it, then the HP's...a real naughty little delight...and the following day, on the way back to Savannah I was taken to a Barbeque place to die for...can't recall the name I'd sad to say...and rom that point I began yet another obsession - to find the best barbeque place as well as discover how many different ways americans spell it!

                          Sad thing about the Smithfield Ham...I'm desperately pleading on the international cabin crew forums for a one legged Air Hostess to come forward who would consider bringing me a Smithfield Ham for Christmas...but I've not been very successful yet...closest I have come was from a cabin crew member from Air Zimbabwe who said she might be able to stuff one in her bra...the mind boggles!

                          I went to a Florida place called Lou Bono's ...it was interesting as the sauce was not a tomato based, but more of a mustard base...quite interesting and a lovely flavour..

                          I had a brief addiction from one in Los Angeles when I used to fly out of there. I'd drive about 20 miles south...perhaps to Torrence? I can't remember ,... to a place called Love's barbeque...I think that was one of the best I ever had..of all things it appeared to have perhaps cloves in the sauce...it was an amazing flavour...
                          When I'm in New York I always set aside an evening to go to Dallas Barbeque on on W 72nd. It was originally called Swiss Chalet as I recall from the seventies...it's next to the famous old Dakota building. I highly recommend it!
                          In South Africa, Elizabethtown, Capetown but I don't think anywhere in Johannesburg, I go to Luv's barbecue...oh my that's a smashing place and a brilliant sauce cooked on mesquite wood..delightfully memorable...again, here at home, in Jolly Ole...not a barbecue of any mention to be found...of course there's an american chain...a couple of them but they don't even warrant mentioning!

                          http://www.dallasbbq.com/

                          and again, on my own...I make a sauce which friends like...but I'm still chasing that ever-elusive secret which would make my sauce memorable...I'm still failing miserably...but I persevere!

                          Photo attached of mine...link for Dallas below

                          http://www.dallasbbq.com/

                           
                        2. re: Foodassasin
                          FrBill Nov 28, 2011 05:03 AM

                          Good morning Assassin!

                          I first must tell you I have (politely) had my hand slapped for talking outside the purview of the site. I’m supposed to refer to restaurants not wax lyrical about the glorious history of foods. So I give my word to the food Nazi’s that I’m about to allude to restaurants in here, but please grant me a small dispensation to respond to assassin’s comments.

                          First, I find it frightfully challenging to see the Venerable Gordon Ramsey’s in any writing that is about living, warm, nurturing sustenance! I look upon Mr Ramsey as the Sodom & Gomorrah of cookery! Nevertheless, I accept your notation. He certainly in great need of a number of epiphanies!

                          Low country, southern, call it what you will, I can state unequivocally that true traditional ‘Southern’ cooking is the epitome of comfort food. It is the essence of communion, it is the embrace of a loving family, and it is the guiding hand that encourages one to share. And the very precept of southern gastronomy is one that not only invites but cajoles strangers to be welcome as family! To this day this concept is still reflected in myriad of restaurants where people sit at a mammoth table, across from strangers and share communion, departing not only satiated from the food, but enriched from the warmth of the common denominator everyone has shared.

                          Indeed, I actually have a Sothern corner in my pantry; a tub of Crisco, a box of course ground hominy grits, a tub of cornmeal for frying okra, cod and how can I forget, green tomatoes!

                          I fear that I’m incapable to hiding the fact that I’m rather well travelled. I’ve lived, literally, in all four corners of our beautiful planet and have been enriched by not only the friendships but by the communions shared with those meals. Whether in the Serengeti plain, the heights of Nepal, the Great Nullarbor Desert, Patagonia, Moldova, or even the states, I have celebrated some of the most amazing dining experiences that anyone could ever hope for! But when I’m forced to choose the one dining experience that has touched my heart and palate most, my memories without the fleeting of a blink, goes to the deep south of the US!

                          Assassin, you are right, it really does have to do with all the cultures coming together – those cultures, most of them suffering at the time at the hands of poverty or slavery, had to work with what little they had. As my father and I often arrived America by ship I became acutely aware of the words at the base of the statue in New York harbour and would recite it out loud to him as we passed, envisaging all the poor landing on at Ellis Island: Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... in my childish eyes it was quite powerful.

                          Perhaps it has to do with something quite Freudian, I’m not intelligent enough to know, but if someone were to tie me down and force me to choose what I felt to be the finest meal I ever had in a restaurant my voice would bellow out a place in Atlanta called ‘Aunt Fanny’s Cabin.’ When my father and I travelled to America and visited Atlanta, he would take me to this place where all they sold was fried chicken, Smithfield Ham, Steaks, and fried catfish (of course with all the accoutrement)! My father and the owner, a joyfully substantial man named Harvey Hester would sit out on the steps of a cabin and literally annihilate themselves with Tennessee Whiskey. Mr Hester introduced us to many famous people – the one who comes most to mind was Marilyn Monroe, who hugged me with such enthusiasm my face became so contorted I looked as if I were trying to mimic the face of a fish! As I recall, that experience became the source of a number of pre-pubescent thoughts a few years later!

                          There was nothing fancy about the food at all, and you are absolutely right assassin – excessive salt, fat, and everything else that makes my GP constantly admonish me saying, ‘What would you do if I said you were getting fat?’ My retort is always the same – ‘I’d get a bigger doctor – you anorexic twit!’

                          I fervently believe that one of the reason our nation suffered what I often describe as the ‘John Major food era’ (dull and a little bit grey), was during the war we simply had access to very little to spice up our culinary skills. Look through the recipes distributed by the war cabinet and you’ll see that they had the same amount of creativity as a sex manual written by Ann Widdecombe might have!

                          I’ve worked hard over the past few years to learn about the foods I enjoy. I bought from Abe books and amazing book called Dining by Rail that provided the history of many recipes and how they moved across the Americas and the black chefs and cooks who were responsible for them. The books says at one point they were serving eight hundred thousand meals a day on the trains. But best of all the book has recipes from all the different railways, from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest. It’s a real eye-opener about how these poor men suffered, how badly they were treated by the whites and despite the fact they were the life and blood of the railways business revenue, they were considered as replaceable as a tissue!

                          So, those vanishing vistas are now very few Assassin. Mrs Wilkes, as I alluded to several times, Dillard House in the northwest corner of Georgia, The Brookville Hotel at the Kansas border, the Davis House (literally) in Toccoa Georgia, Natural Bridge Hotel in Virginia, Mrs Hobbs in Knoxville, and I’ll even offer a tilt of my hat to the commercial and certainly controversial business called the Cracker Barrel group. There are countless others, but you’ll have to discover them for yourselves.

                          I’ve given serious consideration to writing a small book about dining along the back roads of the deep south. But my Bishop put the kibosh on this as I said I would need six months minimum to do it. Oh well..

                          This Friday we’re having a celebration…well, perhaps it’s a wake, I’m not sure yet..I’ve invited twelve people to dinner. I’ve been practicing for several months with the recipes I’ve garnered. I just had two grotesquely oversized black cast-iron skillets arrive by TNT, which I ordered from a place in Tennessee and we’re having…you can imagine, fried chicken, potato salad (with sweet pickle relish of course), macaroni & cheese, buttermilk biscuits (as in rolls) and conr pones, with copious quantities of Danish butter and Acacia honey, and green beans that have been almost literally obliterated through the cooking process, replete with bits of bacon and sweet Vidalia Onions…and finished with two pans of peach cobbler made with nutmeg and cinnamon, and a soured cream pound cake.

                          They’ve all been invited to stay over. (So far 5 have said yes) and for brekkie. Thanks to my friend Gretchen who just returned from working a flight to Atlanta, and brought back six air sealed packets containing two gargantuan slices of Smithfield Country Ham, with the small round bone intact…we’re serving Country Ham with course milled grits, red eyed gravy, scrambled eggs, with More buttermilk biscuits and country gravy adorning ‘patties’ of Jimmy Dean sausage (I had a friend send me a copy cat recipe to make the sausage!).

                          I’ll have St John’s ambulance on standby and as party favours I intend to pass out Pravastatin cholesterol tablets along with a small recipe booklet my daughter is preparing!

                          Now, as I promised the food Nazi’s …Despite my constant trying, I have yet to find anyplace in our great country that serves homestyle meals, other than one. And by no means am I saying that it fills the tic boxes of very much at all, except for the fact that it reminds me (I’m sad to say) of the bland, unimaginative, predictable, yet fresh meals that my nan served me as a child. And that place…please don’t pummel me…is the Stockpot in London…all of them! Whatever you say, no matter how you look down your nose at me, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to eating at home. Perhaps that’s a parable in itself as to why I now love food the way I do, or perhaps more honestly, why my father was always taking me with him when he travelled! Clearly he loved me enough to rescue me!

                          I apologise to the food Nazi’s. I only answered the message. I know I'm not supposed to chat about these things initially anymore!

                          Fr Bill+

                          http://anglicans.blogspot.com/2006/03/take-eat-this-is-my-body.html

                          http://www.stockpotlondon.co.uk/

                           
                          1. re: FrBill
                            f
                            Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 06:38 AM

                            Lol I enjoyed your reply frbill. A couple of things id like to add. Your meal sounds almost complete. Where's the mash with gravy? But otherwise pretty authentic. Two I noticed you didn't mention Louisiana cooking in your travels in the South. I joke when I'm there in Louisiana that I'm traveling in search of a bad meal.

                            As for cookbooks id actually look up Southern Living". Some of the best southern ideas can be found there.

                            1. re: Foodassasin
                              FrBill Nov 28, 2011 07:24 AM

                              Hey Assassin! Actually, mash was first on my list. However my friends asked me to describe american...particularly southern american...potato salad to them so I decided to make that instead. In the vicarage when I've been frying chicken I always have lumpy mash with gravy from the chicken..I must be honest though..I've not yet mastered the gravy portion. I'm still trying to perfect it but it's going to take some time...perhaps it has something to do with 'hip action' like when I used to watch the girls at the waffle house scramble eggs...

                              sorry...pause for a second while I regain my composure...

                              Back to gravy...I allegedly make a notoriously good mashed potato with double cream and copious quantities of Danish butter and friends sometimes ask me whether I'll be serving mash when I invite them to dinner...I'm frightfully suspicious that this is their deciding factor...they'd prefer to have my mash over visiting me!

                              As for Louisiana ...that too is something I have yet to master..I have a magnificent yet simple cookbook from the Trappey Family of Baton Rouge, from 1954 with many original recipes that appear to be copied by that large chap from New Orleans and Paula Dean...But no matter how I try my jambalaya simply doesn't have that 'kick' I experience when I visit the lowlands of Louisiana... I probably need to spend more time there and stay out of Waffle Houses!

                              I have a stack of the old Gourmet magazines but they didn't really lean towards low country cooking. I think I have about 12 Southern Living magazines and whilst there are some nice things in there none of them has really hit my buttons. I belong to the american version of AllRecipes and it's from there that I feel not only at home but loved! It's a bit like having a hundred helpful aunties encouraging me and guiding me through my endeavours. They're lovely and I'm dead serious when I say how much I appreciate these women! Scary thing though is that a couple of them have tried to sell off their daughters to me...the mind boggles! My profile says it all but even that doesn't chase them away...ghosts, being in the country, widowed, dog, .nothing daunts these women. I've even been invited to a Passover Sader where the women keep telling me how their daughters cooked virtually E V E R Y T H I N G...and when you ask for a photo, they send you a picture of a brisket..not the girl! (at least I think it's a brisket!)

                              I'll continue my endeavours...probably will make a weekend trip to the states in a couple of weeks just to do some ...shopping...My time is spent between restaurants and supermarkets with the occasional nap inbetween! I'm easy to please...I just can't decide whether to go to Washington and drive into Virginia or go to Atlanta and drive into the Carolinas...regardless..I'll have a very happy tummy for a long weekend!

                              May all your cakes rise!

                              http://allrecipes.com/cook/13033688/p...

                              Fr Bill

                              1. re: FrBill
                                f
                                Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 09:57 AM

                                Ok it seems you are beyond the basics. Here are a couple of great sites written by home based foodies. The first is deepsouthdish.com and the other is nolacuisine.com.

                                As for food travels if you can't go to New Orleans then I would recommend Alabama or the Carolinas to get another southern staple that we could start a whole new thread about Barbeque

                                1. re: FrBill
                                  f
                                  Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 09:59 AM

                                  As for gravy usually. 2 parts stock/fat to 1 part flour. In the south we say go low and slow. As for how long we say "about a beer" :)

                                  1. re: Foodassasin
                                    FrBill Nov 28, 2011 10:40 AM

                                    Good evening Assassin!

                                    You shall be richly rewarded in Heaven, just probably not by the people at Chowhound!

                                    Indeed, I keep desiring to go to New Orleans for a short break. Problem usually is that I can't achieve it on a weekend trip Thu-Sat as Sunday is a work day. But there's always hope as long as life and breath remain!

                                    Thank you so very much for those links. I've never heard of them so this will be fun! Yes, I've always dreamt about spending more time in the Carolinas...I've done Charleston and the far southwest corner where Georgia leads into Highlands NC, then down the mountain again into Cherokee, then Tennessee - Knoxville, Chattanooga, etc.....lots of egg scramblers! :-)

                                    Indeed I would love to start a thread about barbecue or barbeque...but I'd be quickly attacked by the food Nazis...so I'm probably safer going to the people at AllRecipes...but without a doubt I would love to ...er...um...do a runner for a few months so I could seek that ever elusive 'best' barbecue, 'best' breakfast, to be quickly followed by the 'best' luncheon, 'best' dinner, 'best' cobbler, , 'best pecan pie,'...I'm sure you get the picture..only problem is there'd quickly be another book called the 'best' funeral director or how to get a loved one's body home without having to pay cargo rates!

                                    Bottom line...you are right assassin!

                                    As I was once told and mentioned in my Allrecipe profile, for Southerners the secret recipe is love!

                                    Indeed!

                                    Be well

                                    Fr Bill+

                                    ps: Know nothing whatsoever about Alabama...went to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear once but didn't ever get to speak with the locals...I regret that!

                                    Fr B+.

                                    1. re: FrBill
                                      hill food Nov 28, 2011 12:01 PM

                                      plenty and I mean PLENTY of threads out there debating the various regional merits of bbq. the defenses are fierce and loyal, but very enlightening regarding the variations.

                                      1. re: hill food
                                        FrBill Nov 28, 2011 01:06 PM

                                        Hey Hill...By chance - have you a favourite link? I presume, forgive me if I'm wrong, you are an american? I must be honest; the top two sauces I've had in my life would be
                                        (1) Luv's in Port Elizabeth South Africa

                                        and oddly enough

                                        (2) Love's ...somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway south of Los Angeles. Sadly I believe all the Love's places are now gone..amazing sauce..particularly due to what I thought at the time were cloves...but it could be bay leaves, five spice, or perhaps the lot! Who knows!

                                        At my home in Transylvania the mountain Romanians take the hub cap from their cars and set them concave side up on a fire, toss meats in, road kill or whatever, and smother the meat in a combination of tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar and rosemary...the flavours are unique and memorable, especially when you find yourself pulling pieces of asphalt out of your piece of guinea fowl.

                                        Viva La Difference!

                                        Fr Bill+

                                        1. re: FrBill
                                          hill food Nov 28, 2011 01:15 PM

                                          just go to the "Home Cooking" board and type 'BBQ' into the search panel in the upper right and you'll find a bazillion threads on the subject. I don't have a favorite because I know the process I like and the sauce is always up to whim and interpretation. but here's a thread you may appreciate:

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/59668

                                          and BTW Smithfield Ham is apparently under numerous employee lawsuits over unfair workplace issues.

                                        2. re: hill food
                                          f
                                          Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 01:19 PM

                                          Oh I'm sure. I was just allowing those in the UK to get a conceptual idea of southern food. BBQ is a real staple also.... thank God for that!

                                          1. re: Foodassasin
                                            FrBill Nov 28, 2011 02:05 PM

                                            Thank you Hill! I'm sad to hear about the Smithfield company. I misunderstood as I thought 'Smithfield' was actually now a conceptualisation for preparing cured hams. Nevertheless, I received two very nice notes from the Smithfield company apologising that they were unable to ship a ham to me.

                                            So I'll have to continue my quest to find a one legged flight attendant to hobble her way across the Atlantic with a salt cured peg leg! Oh the things I long for...I do despair at times!

                                            Thank you again!

                                            Fr Bill+

                                            and thanks for the yummy link!

                                            I best end this as I know the Food Nazi's won't forgive me for waxing lyrical despite the fact that they moved this thread away from the original thread I started. I'm such a wimp!

                                            1. re: FrBill
                                              f
                                              Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 02:43 PM

                                              Can't speak for smithfield but there are many farms who could. Supports local farmers anyways. Four oaks farm in south carolina makes some phenomenal smoked cured pepper coated thick cut Bacon.....another southern food staple. Then there is the cajun tasso Ham

                                              1. re: Foodassasin
                                                FrBill Nov 28, 2011 04:18 PM

                                                Now you're just being a tease Assasin! Despite my efforts I can't find anyone who will ship the flippin things to me... I can understand about one that had to be in cold storage but I want a salt-cured ham like the ones that hang from the rafters in the Dallas airport. I carried a dozen Bahamian lobsters home from Nassau last year and didn't hear a dicky-bird from HMC so I was thinking they might be just as kind with the false leg.
                                                Time to sleep with visions of catfish in my head! Bon Nuit!

                                                Fr Bill+

                                                1. re: FrBill
                                                  f
                                                  Foodassasin Nov 28, 2011 04:43 PM

                                                  Its a shame. My thought on that would be to perhaps get with a medium sized restaurant with a decent meat business and a wholesale food account.(if you know any friends in the business) They can probably get any food in the world for the right amount. They unfortunately can sell to retailers but not to the public.

                                                  1. re: Foodassasin
                                                    FrBill Nov 29, 2011 12:19 AM

                                                    Good morning Assassin...I often find myself doing the Death Scene from Camille in front of the food hall buyer at Fortnum & Mason's as I beg for them to bring in results of my latest obsessions.

                                                    They're always lovely and feature many little bits & bobs I somehow cajoled them into ordering. So to ensure I can always smugly cross my arms and say, 'see, I told you so.' I check regularly to make sure the product is selling and if not I buy the entire stock out! Last month it was bottles of green pickle relish. ...so I have 18 remaining bottles if anyone is interested!

                                                    Yes, I plan to ask my 'girlfriend' Esther next week about the Ham, but I'm slightly doubtful as she is perpetually pushing Black Forest Ham products on me. I suspect the salesman "Jürgen" is FAR more handsome than I! Verflixt !!!!

                                                    Fr B+

                                2. re: FrBill
                                  meatn3 Nov 29, 2011 07:21 AM

                                  You may want to purchase a copy of Marion Brown's Southern Cookbook. It's an oldie but goodie and one of the best out there.

                                  Hope your Southern feast is the thing memories are made from!

                                  1. re: meatn3
                                    jmckee Nov 29, 2011 09:49 AM

                                    I'll second Marion Brown's. Bought it second-hand and it's still good. I also like John Egerton's magisterial tome, "Southern Food" and Camille Glenn's "The Heritage of Southern Cooking." Among others.

                      2. rockandroller1 Nov 29, 2011 07:39 AM

                        Smithfield is a disgusting big-agra mass producer of tasteless pork, sorry. It's nothing but a giant factory farm and not special ham at all. I'm sorry I've not of more help with companies that would ship a simple smoked ham to England, do they not have ham over there?

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: rockandroller1
                          d
                          daresymaresy Nov 29, 2011 07:52 AM

                          Rockandroller1, of course we have ham in the UK. As a transplanted Virginian, I can assure you there is nothing here that is even close to a Virginia country ham. It isn't merely smoked...there is a curing and ageing part of the process too.

                          1. re: daresymaresy
                            paulj Nov 29, 2011 12:05 PM

                            Europe has some famous dry cured hams, but the Virginia country ham may be unique in the degree of saltiness and smoking. That may be because a hotter, more humid climate, requires a heavier degree of preservation. While that ham can be served on biscuits (scones) (as thin fried slices), it usually requires scrubbing (to remove the mold), soaking, and finally boiling, which removes excess salt and rehydrates the meat. In a sense it the salt cod of hams. In contrast to fine Italian and Spanish aged hams, it is not eaten raw.

                            In some parts of the US it is easiest to find these hams in Chinese groceries. Apparently it is close to the ham traditionally used in China as a soup seasoning.

                            1. re: paulj
                              Naco Nov 29, 2011 12:27 PM

                              The Chinese also eat pork in vinegar. Smart folks.

                          2. re: rockandroller1
                            Naco Nov 29, 2011 09:37 AM

                            Smithfield is that, but it is also a specific type of ham, native to Smithfield, Virginia.

                            The megacorp you are referring to has roots in that area.

                            1. re: Naco
                              FrBill Nov 29, 2011 11:31 AM

                              Good evening all!

                              Meatn3 and JMcKee Thanks for the advice I will look for them on Abe tonight!

                              rock - I'm sorry to hear this. I may have misunderstood also. My belief was that Smithfield referred to the town and not a mega business like ConAgra...I thought it referred to pigs that were fed on peanuts originally then the stipulation changed to represent only hams that went through a specific curing process within the county limits of that area. I didn't really consider it at just a company with a marketing front. Thank you for sharing this!

                              daresymaresy..I think part of my lust for this ham must be rather primal or at least Freudian. My father always told me the first slice of Smithfield Ham I had was on a train called L&N. I'm not sure about that but I do have in an old box a timetable that when you open it the centre colour image is that of a slice of ham, bone, in, decorated with grits and eggs...the timetable is 50 years old and it's still magnificent! My recollection of the first Va ham I had was at the Hotel Roanoke, then two days later at The Homestead in Hot Springs Virginia where we stayed for several weeks. I think I ordered it every single morning and would whinge terribly if I ran out of red eye gravy to place on the ham! I don't know whether it changed to another company brand or not but we later moved to a hotel called The Greenbrier in West Virginia. They too had the same ham but perhaps it wasn't 'real' Smithfield Ham at the time because we were no longer in Virginia. That's far too many years ago. But I do know that whenever I travel to the states one of the things I search for is 'country ham.' I ask for it by name. I don't think it's really the same as Smithfield...such as the kind I receive from the people at the Cracker Barrel chain...I'm sure if the dining room were quiet enough people could easily hear my arteries hardening. But my view has always been that we must celebrate living as it's the one chance we have and if your former president doesn't have to eat his broccoli, then I have the same flippin right to stuff myself with that magnificent ham! Land-O-the-Free!

                              I'm now curious and have made a mental note to inspect the hams I so often see hanging in shops at the DFW airport. I've never understood why they have them there but not at Dulles...but what do I know!

                              Fr B+

                              Naco re smithfield

                              1. re: FrBill
                                FrBill Nov 29, 2011 11:37 AM

                                Just thought I'd add that whilst I sit here in my office the news has just finished and there's a show called Man V Food...clearly American...the host is travelling in the South and showing us all of the dishes he can find. Lord Have Mercy! The portions! And he has just this second consumed literally one dozen hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts! And now he's segued to a shop where they've cut a doughnut in half and they're frying it on a grille with a hamburger, cheese and bacon! I have no idea how you Americans do it!! No matter how enticing all of this is I simply am incapable of consuming such copious quantities of ANYTHING...except perhaps beer...after all, we ARE British!

                                Fr Bill+

                                1. re: FrBill
                                  alkapal Dec 16, 2011 01:43 AM

                                  man v. food has no relationship to reality.

                                2. re: FrBill
                                  Naco Nov 29, 2011 12:17 PM

                                  There is a Virginia state statute concerning the denomination "Smithfield ham" and it is more or less as you state.

                                  The whole point of Man v Food is that he is eating, ridiculously sized portions that mere mortals dare not attempt.

                                  1. re: FrBill
                                    paulj Nov 29, 2011 12:20 PM

                                    Here's a legal definition, according to the state of Virginia
                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithfie...

                                    But not everything produced by Smithfield Foods, or marketed by Smithfieldhams.com is a country ham. In fact I'd be suspicious of any thing that does not first tell you to scrub off the mould.

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      FrBill Nov 29, 2011 12:56 PM

                                      Naco, I wondered about this. I couldn't believe all this man was consuming! It looked as if he were on a death-wish of some sort! Despite the food items all looking amazing, I really thought this man might die from his behaviour...

                                      ahhh vanity...

                                      That was interesting about the statute...thanks Naco and Thank you Paul J for sharing where the actual statute can be found. Indeed, I wondered why there is little mention about the mould and its removal.

                                      To the food Nazi's...I'm certain you're preparing to slap me. I really do apologise. I've only tried to honestly answer people. I don't want you to think I'm deliberately trying to usurp your rules. People have asked and contributed honest answers germane to my original question so for me at least, virtually everyone who has so kindly taken the time to share has been gratefully received!

                                      Fr Bill+

                                    2. re: FrBill
                                      rockandroller1 Nov 29, 2011 01:18 PM

                                      Sorry about the vitriol, I'm just really against factory farming. Did not know about the designation of "Smithfield" as a particular type of ham. Learn something new on CH every day.

                                      I assure you most Americans do not consider food an eating contest like the guy on Man V food. The show is on because it's a pecularity.

                                      1. re: rockandroller1
                                        FrBill Nov 29, 2011 02:02 PM

                                        Good evening Rock, no need to apologise. I didn't see it as being vitriolic. I very much understand. Without wishing to create any political debates here or accusations, I've always been a bit circumspect about the US and their industrial handling of animals. (even the human kind!). Not suggesting that we are a panacea either but thankfully we have a powerful and effective scheme to protect animal rights and particularly in the large-scale operations.

                                        You spoke well about the food chappy on Man v Food. I actually had to turn it off. Despite the food looking good the gentleman began to repulse me as he laboured to shove (literally) copious quantities of bulk items down his throat. Heavens, I'd hate to be his colon! Not sure how long he's going to be with us at the rate he's going. Anything for the camera is the mindset I suppose. Oh well..
                                        Thursday afternoon I'm scheduled to pick up the eight chickens I ordered for our dinner soirée this Friday. And Harvey Nichols called to say they've received the Vidalia onions I ordered last week. So I'm quite excited about the weekend. It will make a wonderful welcome to the season of Advent!
                                        Enjoy your time as well everyone!

                                        Fr Bill+

                                        1. re: FrBill
                                          s
                                          sandylc Dec 15, 2011 09:18 PM

                                          The Man v Food show is, I gather from the commercials for it, disgusting. Not something I would ever watch, I guarantee you. Certainly there are Americans who eat copious amounts of bad food; I think (I hope)that there are a lot more of us who do not!

                                          1. re: sandylc
                                            hill food Dec 15, 2011 10:01 PM

                                            eh it varies, 3 segments/ show. 2 are decent local places and then one is what makes all fear type 2 diabetes.

                                            1. re: hill food
                                              FrBill Dec 16, 2011 12:13 AM

                                              So I've seen.... A couple of days ago the chap was at Brennan & Carrs in Brooklyn and I thought the next time I'm in New York I might get on the underground and take a 56 minute ride to Coney Island....but then I saw on one of those other restaurant sites that numerous people were not impressed, especially at the cost ratio against flavour. Yes, I saw...I think...three segments...and sadly the show is about consumption and excessiveness. I just hope that the roadside motels the chap stays in has the plumbing to accommodate his indulgences! Had to stop watching the show. It's just nasty!

                                              My daughter and I have been on a quest for the best Club Sandwich in London. Yesterday we did the Four Seasons at Park Lane. Magnificently refreshed restaurant,....beautifully presented sandwich at quite a reasonable price! But we had our 'club' at the Savoy the week before and they won hands down. We've also done the Dorchester and the Hilton Park Lane and Intercontinental. All of them were good, but our palates both agreed that the Savoy is the best at present.

                                              Still working on more of the Salt-cured ham for Christmas... There's always Hope as long as life and breath remain!

                                              Fr Bill+

                                      2. re: FrBill
                                        jmckee Nov 30, 2011 10:15 AM

                                        There are places you can order a good, old fashioned "country" ham -- cured by a salt rub and hanging to dry and maybe smoke. I'll look some of them up and post links here.

                                        1. re: jmckee
                                          FrBill Nov 30, 2011 12:40 PM

                                          J - you most assuredly have caught my attention!! I understand the Virginia process is quite detailed however. Nevertheless I'm not afraid of investing a hundred or so on such a delicacy. I'll never find the peg-legged crew member. Richard frowns on this for his crew and BA say why do their crew need legs in the first place! And the poor ole people at American may be having their wage packets bounce so they may be forced to eat whatever I ask them to pick up!

                                          Indeed, you shall be richly rewarded in Heaven, just probably not by the people at Chowhound!

                                          Be well

                                          Fr Bill+

                                          1. re: FrBill
                                            jmckee Dec 1, 2011 09:17 AM

                                            http://www.newsomscountryham.com/

                                            http://www.broadbenthams.com/

                                            I've had the breakfast sausage from Broadbent, and it's sensational.

                                            1. re: jmckee
                                              FrBill Dec 1, 2011 01:18 PM

                                              JMckee

                                              YOU have just become le meilleur ami de la journée!!!!!!!
                                              Thank you SO very much indeed! My only grumble is that it's around 22:00 in Espania right now and I can't phone them! (Well, I could, but I'm just not that rude!)
                                              I assure you, first thing in the morning I'm on the phone.

                                              Buenos días! Necesito un jamón AHORA! Es una emergencia!

                                              Thank you Thank You Thank You!

                                              Fr Bill+

                                              1. re: FrBill
                                                FrBill Dec 1, 2011 01:25 PM

                                                I think in the midst of my exuberance I didn’t read far down enough…I saw the award they won in Spain and instantly assumed these were people selling Kentucky cured hams in Spain and I was ready to call. Dumb clergy…dumb dumb dumb…I completely ignored the squiggly fonts on the left when I ought to have. But who cares, perhaps I can get them to ship a ham to me anyway. It’s only 4-ish in Bluegrass land. I’ll give it a try! Fr Bill+ ps. I still like ya anyway!

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