Down-home cookin'. Gotta try some of it, folks!
When you're in the deep south, you owe it to yourselves to check out the local home cookin' cuisine. Southern food is a delightful mix of cultures and history, all rolled onto one lip-smacking tasty plate. It's generally simple fare, roasted and seasoned meats, fresh vegetables and wonderful soups and stews. Sometimes it may feature items unfamiliar outside Dixie, such as grits, okra and maybe crawfish. It may not be the healthiest plate of food that you can eat, but given my choice between living 90 years and never having southern fried chicken and living 80 and eating it once a week.... well, why skip your chance at heaven here on earth for an extra ten years of being really old?
When you visit the south, here's hoping that you make friends with the locals. And if given an invitation for a plate of home-cooked food, I'd take it. If you're really lucky, you'll enjoy "Sunday Dinner", which is actually and usually nice lunch. Old-time grandmas can make some serious Sunday dinners. I miss my grandmother's cooking sometimes, although many of her techniques and recipes live on in MY kitchen.
One other bit of advice.... it's always better if you cook and eat dinner with someone that you love. There's a saying in the south that "kissin' don't last, but good cookin' does". Well, I still believe in the longevity of kissing... But there's a lot to be said for true southern cooking.
In the accompanying photo, you see a simple southern meal. We had it the other night for dinner...... Southern fried chicken, homestyle garlic mashed potatoes (with lots of butter and cream) and fresh garden green beans, nicely seasoned with just a bit of crunch left in 'em. Very tasty indeed. My daughter Sara and I made this meal. We accented it with Miccosukee Iced Tea (recipe on my Miccosukee page) and some freshly sliced canteloupe. We had some pecan-pie squares with whipped cream for dessert. (my daughter's creation)
pebble hill plantation
pebble hill plantation is one of over seventy plantations that still exist in the tallahassee-thomasville area. pebble hill plantation was established by thomas j. johnson in 1825. the plantation home you see today was designed by english architect john wind and was built in 1850. during the radical reconstruction era after the civil war pebble hill fell into a state of disrepair. a wealthy northerner named howard m. hanna bought the plantation in 1896. the hanna family restored the pebble hill and built additional buildings on the property. pebble hill plantation is listed on the national register of historic places. for those interested in architecture and southern culture pebble hill plantation is well worth a visit when in the tallahassee area. for admission and times see the attached web site. pebble hill plantation is located on US 319 twenty five miles north of downtown.
The best barbecue chain restaurants in the South
Sonny's Barbecue operates several popular restaurants in Tallahassee and throughout Florida. The first Sonny's originated back about 1968 in Gainesville, Florida. And yes, it was started by a big fat guy who loved barbecue named Sonny Tillman.
What you get at Sonny's is a good barbecue and consistency. It's always good. It's always clean. The service is friendly. In short, going out to Sonny's is always a treat.
When we have visitors from outside the South, we usually take them to Sonny's for some southern barbecue. Anytime you're in the South and see a Sonny's, it might be time for a feed. Pull over and enjoy yourself.
Sonny's corporate advertising slogan sums it up...
Sonny's...... YUMMY. The barbecue. They have a daily special, and the ones I remeber are
Saturday and Thursday,
All you can eat barbecued chicken
All you can eat pulled pork. (My favorite)
All you can eat St. Louis ribs
All you can eat sliced pork
Kids eat free.
Sonny's also has some excellent side dishes to go with their barbecue.
Barbecue beans (absolutely THE best)
fried corn on the cob
baked potatoes AND baked sweet potatoes
great french fries
Sonny's also has a terrific salad bar. It's loaded with true southern specialties, including old fashioned potato salad, ham salad and homemade banana pudding. (the best)
tallahassee natural history museum
the tallahassee natural history museum is located southwest of downtown near the intersection of capital circle (SR 263) and w. orange ave (CR 371). this very interesting museum focuses on the history and wildlife of the tallahassee area. for those traveling with children the star attraction is a replica old florida farm and petting zoo. the museum has an interesting collection of old schools, houses, and churches from the big bend area of florida. the museum also has a nature trail with a zoo of indigenous florida animals. the tallahassee natural history museum is nice place to visit in the tallahassee area.
Take me out to the COLLEGE ball game
"The last "amateur" inter-collegiate sport"
College sports are a huge draw in the USA, and especially in the southern states. Football and basketball are the most popular, drawing millions of fans and literally hundreds of millions of dollars in support. Besides entertaining fans, they're a huge draw in support and contribution to their universities for academic programs. It is said that a national championship in football can mean billions of dollars in alumni support.
Baseball is somewhat different, in that it's more of an "amateur" sport in college. Sure, there are plenty of individuals playing college baseball who will someday be playing in the US major leagues. But, there are also guys playing ball who are on (at best) a partial scholarship - guys who still launder their own uniforms and such.
College baseball is a relaxed afternoon or evening at the ball park. Enjoying a hotdog, singing cherished and traditional songs, giving the umpire a hard time - it's all good.
Florida State, in Tallahassee, has always had a very good baseball program. The present coach (Mike Martin) is the third all-time winningest coach in college baseball. (On a personal note, he was MY coach in junior high school, a lonnnnnnnnnnng time ago. I have to admit, none of us back in junior high saw such success in Mike's future, but what did we know, we were all about 13 years old).
So, if you are a sport and baseball fan and you find yourself in Tallahassee between Feb and May, check out the schedule. You could go see a game at FSU for about $6 tops.
FSU's baseball stadium is one of college football's best. It's named after Dick Howser, a former manager of both the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals (he won a world series championship in 1983 at Kansas City). Dick was an alumni of FSU, and was FSU's first-ever player to be designated as an "All-American". He tragically died young, of brain cancer, in the early 1990s.
Baseball is so much more a sport that lends itself to the young. Because the admission prices are so low, and because the atmosphere is so much more family-friendly and relaxed, it's the perfect place for a dad to take his kids for the afternoon. Many wives certainly like THAT notion, as it gives them the day free for reading and relaxation.
It's not that way at my house, though... my wife loves baseball as much as anyone, and she wants to go.
In the photo below, a youngster plays catch with one of the FSU players out on the field before a recent game.
The ball game is a great place to get tasty, tasty junk food. Some places in this world (I'm talking about you, California) have started serving healthy items at games, choosing to eliminate the traditional junk fare. But, this is an atrocity in my humble opinion.
The nut cases in California can eat their granola and crap if they want - when I'm at a ball game, it's crackerjacks, hotdogs, nachos, popcorn, etc. Cold lemonade is a good choice on a hot day. Unfortunately, as this is a COLLEGE venue, they do not sell beer, as they do in professional baseball. That doesn't mean that fans haven't enjoyed a little nip before entering the park. :)
Like I say, it's a perfect dad and lad place to spend an afternoon.... or maybe GRANDdad and lad.
Did I marry the right girl or what? Here I am happily enjoying a recent baseball game with my sweet Bonnie at my side.
A tradition at FSU - William Tell Overture. During the periodic cleaning of the basepaths during a game, the sound system plays "The William Tell Overture" as the husky young attendants drag the rakes over the playing surface. The fans cheer them on, and lustily boo anyone still on the field at the song's last note. :)
Fan-friendly, so much more than other college sports. At a college baseball game, there is almost always time to chat with your favorite players over by the fence.