9.07.2011

Back to the Basics. Holding on. Letting go.


Over a girls' night out with Maggie last week I lamented the recent loss of a t-shirt that had significant sentimental value to me (and was super cool). A boy I once cared for deeply had sort of permanently loaned it to me and I, of course, kept it forever, until I just lost it a short time ago. I suppose it is one of the only things I had left of him, besides my memories. That whole thing was years ago, now.

Maggie just blinked at me and flatly told me to forget about it. She said I keep too much stuff. I don’t need all of the stuff. It doesn’t necessarily need to have the gravity I have assigned to it. 

It’s a shirt.


Admittedly, that smarted a bit. But she’s right. As tidy as I am and as often as I clean out my closet of clothes, shoes and accessories that I don’t want, or no longer fit, I have a ton of stuff. In addition to that signature t-shirt left behind from most of the boys that have meant something to me. I have a Steeler’s glass that was Sam’s. I’ve carried it with me for a decade. When it was broken last year so was I. I have cards Paz made for me from twenty years ago, a matchbook with a joke written in it from Michael Fancini from fifteen years ago, I have kept every journal I’ve ever written, have busted up furniture from my grandparents, and even have a hat pin, all bent and rusty, that was found in a jewelry box my dad gave to my mom long before I was born. Let’s not even mention the decrepit strainer, shaped like a triangle, with rust, from my dad’s house from way before my time, that sits on a chest in my dining room, never used, yet has no real, actual, sentimental value to me that I’m aware of. But I love it.

What you own eventually owns you, right?

I’ve never actually shed all of my stuff before. And as a result, perhaps I find myself trapped in the past a bit. “I used to do this with that person”, “I used to do that this way and this that way back in the day.” You know?

We can’t completely shed everything really. Actually, even if we get rid of it, we still have all of our stuff anyway, tangible or not. Everything is part of the mosaic that makes all of us who we were, are and will be.

These thoughts coupled with this time of year have harkened me back to thoughts of my family, my roots, my parents, the James River, youth, spirit, innocence, thunderstorms, cicadas, Yo! MTV Raps, Ca-Ca the Clown, The Magic Pumpkin, lighting bugs at dusk, Dinosaur Jr., my back deck; Richmond and Grove Ave. Where I became me.

Those of you that read me on the regular probably know all of this about me already. This is what I do periodically (maybe this is my new stuff).

But man alive, I also miss that food.

Where is it here, dear City of Angels? Where can I find brilliant (and unabashedly Crisco’ed) fried chicken, meatloaf, roast beef, fried catfish, chicken pot pie, chicken livers, collard greens, green beans, fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes (with mountains upon mountains of butter), corn on the cob, parker house rolls, tomato aspic, corn bread and sweet tea under the same roof? With a twist. In the right place. And wine, too, please. WHERE?


Because I want it. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Sometimes tried and true, and sometimes with a twist. In the right place.
 
I’ve mentioned this previously - but I’m redundant and you all know it – the South actually created the only cuisine that is indigenous to this country. Yes, it’s true. Look it up.

So last week Doug, Maggie and I had a Southern feast: fried chicken (cooked with Crisco AND butter, mind you), buttermilk biscuits, slow cooked collards, and sliced heirloom tomatoes with a dollop of Duke’s Mayonnaise, sun tea and, of course, wine. For dessert we had buttermilk pie (recipe coming soon).


I want more. I’m going home in October. I want my emotional Snuggie. I want to talk to Aunt Babe. I’m going to ask her everything about everything. And I’m going to talk about her food. And I’m going to hug her.

And then I’m coming back here to you, my City of Angels. And I’m going to make you some food.

Shirt? What shirt? I’ve got cooking to do.


Classic Southern Fried Chicken

Serves 6 

 

2 small chickens, broken down
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour  
2 tablespoons seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
24 ounces Crisco 
1 stick of unsalted butter

Pat the chicken pieces dry and line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Add the chicken. In another bowl, whisk the flour with the seasoned salt and seasoned pepper. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour.

Dunk chicken back in buttermilk mixture and back into flour mixture.
Transfer to the baking sheet.

In a 12-inch, cast-iron skillet, heat the Crisco and butter to 365°. Add all of the chicken and fry over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until deeply golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted nearest the bone registers 170°, 20 to 24 minutes. Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve right away.

Printable Recipe

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