"More than any other part of America, the South stands apart. Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it...but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have 'people' there, to feel it is your native ground. Natives will tell you this. They are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Virginians, South Carolinians, Tennesseans, Mississippians and Texans. But they are conscious of another loyalty too, one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long."
— Tim Jacobson, Heritage of the South
More and more I find myself missing the familiar Southern cooking that was omnipresent in my former American life, even in a pseudo-Southern state like Florida. Foods that were so available to me that I didn't dream they wouldn't be as popular in Canada; foods like buttermilk biscuits with honey, cornbread, fried catfish, grits, sweet tea and that love-to-hate Floridian delicacy, Key lime pie.
I'm hard-pressed to find these staples in Southern cuisine here in the Great White North. Cracker Barrels don't exist and, although there's an unusually large amount of KFCs in Mississauga, we all know that's a complete insult to Kentucky cooking.
The irony is that, while Canadians don't do biscuits, they love their gravy. And I don't just mean love. I mean they lurv gravy. It's poured over everything from French fries to chicken wings. If I make pork chops, roast beef or buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, you'd better believe I'm making a giant side of gravy to go with it. I thought this was optional, something on the side that's nice if we have it but understandable if we don't. I've sinced been educated by Bobby and now keep at least 4 extra packets in the pantry at all times. (Keep in mind, I'm not talking about true gravy made from drippings. This is brown gravy made from a mix. And sawmill gravy? That thick, white, sausage-infused sauce that's so popular in the South is nothing but a myth in Canada.) So, while I may be missing my biscuits, gravy is something that flows as freely as maple syrup in Canada. It's the condiment du jour for an entire nation.
In my world, summertime means kicking back with a cold glass of sweet tea and a plate of biscuits schmeared with blackberry jam. Alas, while I don't have these Southern comforts readily available to me, it helps a little to know that a good rack of baby rack ribs and bucket loads of gravy are literally just around the corner.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are that of an American expat living in Canada. Not every 'quirk' is relevant to every Canadian. These are merely observations and commentary based on my experiences living in 2 different countries.
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