Southerners are a unique and special bunch—just ask one. They are extremely proud and boisterous and like nothing more than to entertain and celebrate any and all of life's moments. And these moments do not have to be special—any excuse for a party will work. The Daily Meal has several southerners writing from and about their various cities (like this one). So we were more than thrilled to get our hands on a copy of Garden & Gun magazine's newly published The Southerner's Handbook--A Guide to Living the Good Life. This handbook is spot on about the South with its accurate depictions, stories and recipes for people to reference and learn about the things that make a southern who we are.
The editorial team at Garden & Gun led by David DiBenedetto scored big when they got heavy hitters like John T. Edge, John Currence and Julia Reed to contribute. Even though it is not a cookbook, it features several recipes and in true Southern fashion has sections featuring all the important areas about the South—food, drinks, sporting and adventure and style. Stories are flavorful and each piece is a quick read which allows the reader a chance to quickly absorb and take notes.
Here is a sneak of what to expect in this must have guide:
- The handbook's first section is the one on Food and who better than John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, to start things off. His essay entitled "why southern food matters (so much)" should be copied and put on any good southerner's wall. It is a reminder of where we have come from and what makes our food so good. Additionally readers can snag Chef Ashley Christiansen's fried chicken recipe, where to order grits in the mail, how to "boil your goobers" and the list of the best cookbooks in this section.
- Writer Julia Reed more than entertains in her opening piece for the Style section, she makes you laugh hard. She knows how to entertain and provides the best advice for how to do so the southerly way. While discussing drinking and what to provide for guests, she reminds us that "most people don't want to be reminded that they're pounding down a bottle or two of wine all by themselves, rather that they are morphing into their most lively and charming and brilliant selves." The section offers other essentials like "how to behave", the importance of writing hand written notes and how to get invited back to an event.
- For those envious of how well southerners drink, will want to take lots of notes in the Drink section. Growing up in the south, we can attest that our lives as children revolved around our parent’s social schedule and it always seemed to focus around drinking, and lots of it. Guy Martin shares his favorite Southern bars (we say road trip—reference the Sporting & Adventure section), there is a piece on the history of bourbon and the best kinds to drink and the perfect sweet tea recipe.
- We did breeze through the Sporting & Adventure section until it came to how to catch and pick a blue crab. Any good southern must know how to do this important task. Mostly for the tasty outcome, but it also builds on life skills like patience and hard work. There are some other great animal related resourceful pieces in the section and we like that the ending one covers the rules of the road trip. The Daily Meal loves a good trip especially when it involves eating and drinking in southern cities.
- The Home & Garden section nails it with an outline on the perfect tomato and how to grow them, what should go into a "southern" herb garden as told by Chef John Fleer and what to do with that pesky kudzu weed—eat it!
- "Bless Your Heart" might not have made it in the list of "southernisms" in the Art & Culture section but it could have. There are some other good ones listed that took us back to our younger years ("Drunker than Cooter Brown"). We love the list of "essential venues" for listening to good music and could not agree more about "the church of southern football" pairings. As foodies, we would have loved to have included a section on good tailgating food (include in volume two?). And this southern handbook would not be complete without mentioning William Faulkner and the "how to talk Faulkner" piece which we can attest is a necessary sport at most social gatherings.
Kudos to Garden & Gun for once again sharing just how cool it is to live in the south. The olden days of thinking everything is backwards and slow is dispelled in this guide and we predict this will be the must have gift to give for any occasion.