May 04, 2009



by Deeanne Gist

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?

A Bride in the Bargain ~ Releases May 2009


Karen Witemeyer said...

Hi, Deeanne. Your story about the chicken fried steak made me smile. I grew up in California before moving to Texas for college, then marrying a Texan and gladly being adopted into this proud state. I now write historical romances set here. My first will come out with Bethany House in Summer 2010. I'm excited to be joining you as a Bethany House author!

But back to food...Before arriving in Texas, I had never heard of brisket or pulled pork. Chicken fried steak made no sense to me - and even worse, chicken fried chicken. Isn't that a bit redundant? How else would one fry chicken?

However, I can now claim to have lived in Texas more years in total than California, and I am thrilled to order chicken or steak of the "chicken fried" variety. And please pass the gravy.

Vickie McDonough said...

I'm from a land-locked state-Oklahoma-and can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would eat a crawfish. Ick! I love that down-home country food: fried chicken, grilled steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy. Mmm...cholesterol haven.

I'm looking forward to reading your new book. DeeAnne!

Deeanne Gist said...

Oh, Karen! I'm so excited! Welcome aboard!!

And I have to confess, Vickie, those first crawdads are the most difficult, but once you get past the eyeballs, antenna and legs, and concentrate on the taste ... they are just so good. I absolutely love them!