It was surprising to me to find out that brunch was not an invention of the American South. While excessive drinking and regional cures can be found in other places too, sweet tea and fried chicken are still be the best hangover panaceas for me. For others, a hearty lunch of sandwiches, eggs, pancakes, and various other options is the ticket. The term “brunch” was termed by an Englishman in the 19th century as a meal to relieve the debauchery of the night before…while also allowing dedicated time to revel and reminisce about the prior shenanigans. Alcoholic drinks, or the “hair of the dog”, were served to help numb the effects of the patrons’ hangovers. Whether or not a Bloody Mary is a direct result of brunch is unknown, but now it has become a brunchtime staple. It’s hard to imagine the meal without it.
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, written and recorded by The Band in 1969 would immortalize not only the historical event that ripped our nation apart and the struggle that would come in a botched Reconstruction, but also the dying of a distinct era. The southern United States has placed a majority of its stake in agriculture since the very beginning. Down here sugarcane, cattle, corn, peaches, pecans, soybeans, and the king cash crop cotton have always held up our economy. Like football, agriculture is a way of life here. Life changes though. Constantly. Now the modern farmer is caught between the responsibility of feeding an ever-growing, ever-needy population and the newly developed debate of ethics and economics in food production.
Food science, agriculture, cooking, cuisine, and economics have continuously evolved and developed to drive our society through tens of thousands of years. Ploughs turned into an empire of tractors for an American Deere; pots made of clay began to gleam and cook evenly when constructed out of copper; and, numerous businesses based themselves off of the inebriation of others to watch it all come full circle and have their own customers begin making their own libations.
My love for Mount Vernon began after spending an afternoon there while visiting my sister in nearby Washington D.C. I am a fanatical history buff (the type who collects every fake piece of Confederate money, takes pictures with her dad next to National Park signs, and has played “pirates” since I first saw Peter Pan and began delving deep in maritime lore), so when I visited Mount Vernon my body almost reached sensory overload. Being 15 or 16 at the time, many could think I would concern myself with how to sneak off from family activities and use my new cell phone, but instead I got lost in the colors, sights, and smells of an estate house which had held some of the most influential people associated with our country’s founding. Oh, if walls could talk.
Carver’s reputation and research into agricultural developments greatly impacted the history of the South. Now you can find peanut butter anywhere (although a majority of the modern stuff is made with hydrogenated oils), and peanuts in a wide variety of products. My favorite happens to be peanut-infused bourbon Manhattans. I would say thanks to George Washington Carver just for that.