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So NOT Southern

I’m reading instead of knitting lately. I’m more of an inert activity type. You’ll notice jogging never seems to make the list, or anything that would require sudden, coordinated movement on my part (I am not welcome at many local step classes for this reason). But I digress.

So I’m reading a book called Vanilla Ride by a guy called Joe R. Lansdale. And I’m thinking of it as a mostly southern novel (any novel that incorporates the word peckerwood appropriately in a sentence is a winner for me), until I found the believability grinding to a screeching halt over a minor yet crucial detail. The lead characters are out fishing and they’ve brought bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise for their trip. Not feelin’ me? I said bologna with MAYONNAISE — a combination that simply does not exist in nature, or at least not in Southern culture as I know it.

Mayonnaise is useful for only one of three things: 1) Tomato sandwiches on white bread (brings you closer to God) 2) Potato Salad (a crowd pleaser, particularly when you add mustard, dill pickle relish and pimento stuffed olives) and 3) Deviled Eggs (although sight of an egg plate always begs the question “Who died?”). If you dip into the mayonnaise jar for any reason outside these three you could be tried for heresy in 3 out of four Southern towns.

Let’s face it. When you grow up in the South, particularly when you grow up in a financial tier well below that bright, shiny “middle-class”, you learn pretty quickly the value of masking the inherent flavor of whatever it is you happen to be eating at the time — hence our heartfelt appreciation of a nice bottle of yellow mustard.

Mustard’s good on meatloaf sandwiches, can even make leftover canned SPAM sandwiches palatable (sort of, as long as you can consume the entire portion without actually looking at it or questioning what that particularly chewy bit might have been), and is absolutely the only appropriate condiment for bologna (pronounced baloney, ’cause who are you trying to impress, peckerwood?) –preferably stick bologna from a roadside store that also sells bait, kerosene and pit barbecue from a giant black drum out back. Not that I’ve ever turned my nose up at the pre-sliced stuff, but I’m just sharing with you the bologna ideal here.

So, back to Vanilla Ride — once the mayonnaise-on-bologna detail forced me to suspend my suspended disbelief (did I lose you on that one?), I began to contemplate what his characters really should have carried with them on their trip, and it came to me without effort, memories of rented flat-bottom boats or just good ol’ bank side fishing trips rushing to the fore.

1) Vienna sausages (canned with a pop-top, easy to get to when you need them and completely temperature stable)

2) Saltine crackers (salty, delicious, and hard enough so you can pretend the bait funk isn’t rubbing off your fingers onto your lunch)

3) Bottle of mustard (see above)

4) Styrofoam ice chest filled with your soda of choice (ours always included Grapico, Orangico or Peach Nehi — we did like our sugar-laden, artificially fruit-flavored drinks way back when — RC cola was usually present, but I have to admit, I hated the stuff)

5) Moon Pies and Little Debbie Cakes!!! (temperature stable and delicious. Plus, they’re individually wrapped for your protection –see “Bait Funk” above)

Now that I’ve cleared up this small but troubling matter, I’m off to read a bit more of Vanilla Ride as I’m kind of a fan of this Texas-based author. Maybe that’s the whole problem. Texas really isn’t all that Southern in the traditional sense. More South-western. Maybe they do things a bit differently over there. I’m willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt. Just don’t ask me to eat  mayonnaise on my bologna, okay?

For my next food rant, we’ll discuss the importance and appropriate usage of hot sauce. Hint — Tabasco Brand hot sauce is a lie only yankees believe. Much love to ya!

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Posted in Books, Rants & Raves.


8 Responses

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  1. Tammi Smith says

    Listen at you! the south has a huge history with mayo. Google “Duke’s mayonnaise” if you doubt. A lot of our barbecue sauces use mayo as a base, too.

  2. jodi says

    See…I’m puzzled by this whole Duke’s brand. Is that a Mississippi thing? Went my entire childhood and most of my adult life never having seen it on a grocery shelf. It’s still kind of hard to find around here. Maybe we’re in a mayonnaise free zone here. :)

  3. jodi says

    And don’t even get me started on the whole “white sauce” vs. “red sauce” BBQ fight. :)

  4. Kimmy says

    Davis wanted to name our new puppy ” Little Debbie”. Ya’ll know why. THe beauty of a box of 12 of anything for $1.47.

  5. Tammi Smith says

    LOL! Definitely don’t want to fight about it! I am a Mayo Expert. Not sure about MS –
    I live in AL – here’s where they have it near me. May also be in MS at these stores (you have a Pig there, right)?:

    ■Piggly Wiggly
    ■Publix
    ■Sam’s Club
    ■Target
    ■Walmart
    ■Winn Dixie
    Luv the puppy name.

  6. jodi says

    I’m in Alabama, too, and I swear I never saw Dukes before the last few years, but obviously mayonnaise was not revered in my home, so we must not have been looking. Always interested in good southern recipes, so please share your favorite that calls for the dreaded mayonnaise. I’m willing to be indoctrinated. And when we DID you mayo it was always Bama, ’cause my Mom swore it didn’t need to be refrigerated. Hmmm…now that I think about it, maybe THAT’s why I’m so mayonnaise-averse to this day! :)

  7. Bells says

    goodness me you’re speaking a foreign language and I love it!! If I ever get to alabama, I’m going to die of happiness trying all that great southern food.

  8. Kim says

    WRONG on the mayo, my dear. What the heck do you think the styrofoam ice chest is for? It’s to keep the mayo in the potato salad AND on the sandwiches from spoiling while you’re out fishing. And Dukes has been around forever — in Georgia, Alabama AND Tennessee, trust me. However, every good Southerner knows the best mayo is Hellman’s.



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