Where I come from, a barbecue is an all-day-all-night event involving lots of smoke, deep pits and tender vigilance accompanied by a massive gathering of family and friends and coolers filled with beer. For the tea-totallers, no well-bred gal would serve a meal without a glass of iced tea so large it could barely be grasped in one hand. The annual Gist Crawfish Boil is coming up this Memorial Day and we expect to boil 200 pounds of crawdads. At breakfast time, gravy’s on the menu. I am from a) New Jersey, b) Idaho or c) Texas. ;) (Pics are from our past boils.)
It was an eye-opening experience for me when I went to a barbecue in upstate New York and discovered it was hamburgers and hot dogs grilled on the backyard deck (no barbeque sauce in sight). They never even heard of chicken fried steak. I recommended it to a friend who was traveling to Texas, and they came back all disappointed because the waitress didn’t ask them whether they wanted it rare, medium or well done. LOL.
One of the first things I do when researching a locale for a new book, is search out period recipes. It is amazing how enduring recipes can be in a region. I usually have no trouble at all finding modern versions of things like bubble-and-squeak (a potato and cabbage dish) and toad-in-the-hole (sausage baked in a Yorkshire pudding batter). These recipes and others like them were often brought from the Old Country to the New World and adapted with regionally available ingredients. As mobile as we are now, Mom’s recipes still remain associated with our old home town.
Are there smells and tastes that evoke a sense of place for you? A strong memory of childhood? Have you ever read a book where they got it just right?