Battlepanda: Facile observations about the South


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Facile observations about the South

My work visa came down much sooner than I expected. This means that I'll probably be leaving for London on the next reasonably-priced flight. As my time in Mt. Airy come to an end, I'd just like to end with a few random thoughts about the South from my personal experience:

1) Barbeque is the crowning achievement of American cuisine. Bucking the national trend towards homogeneity, barbeque is fiercely regional, with an obsessive attention to authenticity and craft that I find very moving. People are very partisan about their local barbeque. North Carolinians think their slow-cooked fork-tender chopped barbeque drenched with vinegar with just a hint of hickory smoke is king. Alabamans call it "dog food". We are blessed in Mt. Airy because we can ride north to Galax to experience the sublime Virginia-style ribs and brisket topped with a sweet and piquant sauce at the Galax smokehouse, or go south to Lexington ("the barbeque capital of North Carolina") for our fix of authentic NC barbeque.

2) Don't ever pass up a chance to hear bluegrass live. Even, or perhaps I should say especially, if it is just a small informal gathering of amateur musicians. Those picking sessions really allows one to get a great sense of the music as you get to observe the players up close and see how their fingers move like lightning. If you're really lucky some Grandpa or Grandma would get up and do some flatfoot dancing.

3) People are incredibly nice and neighborly here. Ever since my boyfriend's family moved in, people up and down the street have been dropping by with baked goods, garden tomatoes, or an invitation to one the 50 bajillion Baptist Churches they have around here. When store clerks say "have a nice day", they actually mean it. Unfortunately, the downside to this legendary friendliness is that the stereotype of the slow-moving south is also true. Clerks chatting to customers will finish their conversation, take a pause, and start another while the next customer is waiting.

Sometimes when I'm talking to people I do find it hard to stop this little stream-of-consciousness paranoia running through my mind "dum de dum...I wonder what they'd think of me if they know where I stand on abortion/God/Dubya/gays/evolution...dum de about the weather...dum de dum." Luckily, there are always much more pleasant topics to talk about than politics.