Before I married Phillip, my world contained one type of dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner: cornbread. My mother was born and raised in Savannah, GA, and then she and my father (also a Southerner) ended up raising my sisters and me in Texas. In my experience, no other type of dressing than cornbread existed, and no other type of dressing need exist. No matter at whose house we ate Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, no matter who was in charge of preparing the dressing, we knew we would be served cornbread dressing for dinner. Why should the case be any different? What can be more delicious than cornbread dressing, all moist and flavorful, and covered with rich giblet gravy? My Thanksgiving dressing horizon broadened a bit when I ate dinner with Phillip’s family the first Thanksgiving after we began dating. I was shocked – SHOCKED – and dismayed to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner at which my beloved, traditional cornbread dressing was missing, and in its place was oyster dressing! Even if I were a seafood lover (which I decidedly am not), I would have rebelled at the notion of anyone making oysters the prominent ingredient in dressing. In fact, the oysters were not the only problem with the dressing; it was made with white bread! Simply white bread! Clearly Phillip’s Yankee roots were shining through his family’s tradition of serving oyster dressing for Thanksgiving dinner.
“The girl set out the platter of bacon and the brown, high biscuits and a bowl of bacon gravy and a pot of coffee, and then she squatted down by the box too. The baby still nursed, its head up under the girl’s shirtwaist. They filled their plates, poured bacon gravy over the biscuits, and sugared their coffee. The older man filled his mouth full, and he chewed and chewed and gulped and swallowed. “God Almighty, it’s good!” he said, and he filled his mouth again.” (John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath)
“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!” (C. Joybell C.)
At first glance, the two quotations above may seem unrelated to each other in every way except that their subject matter is food. Yet, the interest of the quotations above is not really food at all; it is the joy that good food inspires in the human spirit. People in the most dire of situations can sometimes escape from their misery if they happen upon the chance to have a good meal or a special food. Continue reading