I was born and raised in the heart of Georgia. Looking back at my childhood years, I can remember long summer afternoons playing in the yard, eating banana popsicles, drinking ice tea, shelling peas and butter beans, and talking with the grownups on my grandmother’s porch. Ah, those were the good old days. Even though I moved away for a while, the two things that have remained constant in my life are my love for country cooking and family. Here is a glimpse into country cooking ideals and practices, as I learned them.
I was probably in my early teenage years before I ever knew that tea could be served hot or unsweetened. Any time we mentioned tea, we were talking about sweet, iced tea. It was about that same time that I realized that “store bought” was NOT as good as homemade and that most people’s home cooking couldn’t hold a candle to my grandmothers’. I guess everyone feels like that about their mama and grandmothers’ cooking, but in my case it was true! 😉
Country folks are not new to frugal living or making do with what they have. Back when my granny was young, she lived on a farm with her 11 brothers and sisters. They all worked together on the farm plowing, planting, harvesting, cooking, canning, and preserving. We won’t even go into tending the livestock. There wasn’t much money and what little there was had to be spent on the necessities, things that you couldn’t make or grow yourself. Their general philosophy was that if you had to buy it, you didn’t need it. You learned to make do in creative ways.
Some considered country folks to be poor. Wrong. Despite the lack of money, country folks were rich – rich in family, friends, ingenuity, compassion, and in all the ways that matter most. They were also among the most generous people, whose concern for others helped to create a strong community.
If someone, be it stranger or neighbor, was in need, the community worked together to meet the need. When a quilt was needed, the ladies would get together to make one from bits of material saved from outgrown clothes. When someone’s crops didn’t do well, neighbors would pool resources; share canned, cured, or stored food; help plant another crop; etc. When someone became sick, the ladies would cook and send meals for the family until the person recovered.
Food is one thing that always seemed to be available in most country homes. Very few hosts would let you leave without encouraging you to eat at least a little something. In fact, many country cooks still consider it to be “almost a sin” for a visitor to leave without having been offered a meal! It’s called hospitality.
As you can see from this small glimpse into country cooking, it plays a vital part in the country lifestyle. The importance goes well beyond cooking food for the family. It creates a sense of generosity and responsibility within individual homes as well as compassion and teamwork within the community.
Want to learn more about country cooking? Get more info in our newsletter and keep your walking shoes ready for more of my “dirt road rambles.”