gritsinmisery: (water leaves)
Part 2:

The food. Cajun / Creole especially, but really the attitude about food; that it's something to celebrate, that it represents history and family and culture. Food at the beach represents vacation happiness and making a living from the sea, and of course the food in Miami pulls in the wonderful blend of Cuban and the other island flavors that have moved north.

I'm not saying there aren't ethnic conclaves here in Missouri with food traditions, but the new ones with authentic foodstuffs are still very self-contained (e.g. the Bosnians) and the "original settlers" -- the Germans, the French -- have been Americanized to the point where they're not really authentic, just shams and shells like corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. We have a good Italian neighborhood here, but even the everyday restaurants there seem to be carbon copies of each other, down to the taste.

When I lived in Lafayette, my best friend's father was from Martinique. They lived across the street, and every summer for a month they would go stay with their grandmother on the island. Two or three times a year, I would be "swapped" for one of my best friend's little sisters because I adored the food her father would cook, and that little sister did not care for the native fare. I hope she grew up and into it. I miss it.

My parents' best friends owned a small "farm" about 15 minutes north of town; a wooden farmhouse with electricity and water but no toilet, a big red barn, a couple of horses, a few head of cattle, and acres of dewberry bushes and pecan trees. When we were invited out for a Saturday there was 50s and 60s tunes on a Wurlitzer in the "living room," rides on a flatbed pickup truck over dirt roads and fields to pick berries or gather pecans or just count the herd, goldfish in the watering trough, a converted oil-barrel barbecue grill on the front porch with half chickens and long links of cajun sausage going, and huge pots of potatoes, red beans, and rice on the stove for potato salad and the ubiquitous red beans and rice. The husband's mother spoke no English so he was as apt to below orders to his eight kids in patois as not. Although my siblings and I were younger than all but two of his children, I never felt that we were underfoot; we were just extended family. The fanciest restaurant can never match my memories of that food, simply because it was fed to us with love by people who had no requirements of blood to love us, they just took us in because that was the way their hearts worked.
gritsinmisery: (camillia)
Part 1 of n...

Camellias. I miss the way their colors brightened up the yards of the houses in my childhood neighborhoods. I miss using the fallen blossoms as snowballs in the Southern version of a snowball fight (not that I'd do that now...) Somehow, their smell means "the South" to me.

To experience camellias now, I must wait until February rolls around and go to the local botanical garden. They have an old brick greenhouse planted with camellias. When we were living in L.A. (as opposed to LA.) you could occasionally see one, but they didn't much care for the dry air there.

Not so much do I miss the azaleas. You can of course grow them and their cousins the rhododendrons just about anywhere, although not with the wondrous great showing and early appearance that they have in the South. I discovered something while on vacation in Scotland back in the late 80s: it's not the warmth of the South that these plants love so much as the humidity. The most fantastic display of rhododendrons I have ever seen is in the Edinburgh Botanical Garden. Of course, one has to wait until June to see it...

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