In the eyes of the uninitiated, gravy could appear to be little more than an uninspired glop of dishwater colored slop: a flavor crutch akin to simply soaking a meal in pure lard. These unlearned individuals deserve not only the pity of all Southerners who have studied at the gravy skillet (perhaps in the form of a collective “bless their hearts”) but a proper education in how the often delicate and always intricate flavor profile of this sauce extraordinaire has fueled generations as a breakfast staple smothering biscuits, lunchtime accompaniment and dinnertime delight married with the crunch of a crispy chicken fried steak.
Teetering on the threshold of June south of the Mason-Dixon Line brings about a fresh crop of daily rituals with a common aim: keeping cool. Hand fans begin to wag in the stagnant air, the baking of homey jam cakes drops off sharply in favor of refreshing fruit salads, air-conditioning units purr and box fans dot screened-in porches as Southerners retreat for their annual summer hibernation.
While Southern women are well known for their pick-a-little, talk-a-little abilities to gossip and tell tales with the best of them, the recipe box is one place where secrets are kept tightly under wraps. With Fort Knox-levels of security ensuring special brines, frying temperatures and unexpected ingredients retain their clandestine status, it is unsurprising that the level of competition circulating around family recipes is fierce.
The Hot Plate Music Hour is a monthly column for which you will need your ears as much as your eyes. We come up with playlists centered around a particular food or we ask notable people what their playlist would be for the perfect dinner party. Click the link within the article to listen to the playlist of Spotify. This week, we listen to music inspired by catfish.
Serving cornbread with dinner? How about a side of cornbread music? Welcome to the Dinner Party Playlist!