I am earning my roots. Along with my husband and wonderful son, we are earning our roots. You can't just move down South and think you belong (as much as you want to!) You need to earn the title of Southerner, specifically, Charlestonion.
I have every intention of winning over my fellow natives, becoming one of them. I get laughed at, polite nods of "suuuure", and outright, "NEVER!"How does a lifelong New Yorker think she can be Southern in three short years?
And lots of it.
I've been in the food business for most of my life. A family restaurant and catering business, started by my Mother when I was just starting elementary school, led to the life of a foodie. A real foodie--as in: no choice in the matter. But really, it chose me. I have been obsessed since I can remember--watching my Mom make magnificent Julia Child-inspired masterpieces, watching PBS (long before the Food Network) and eating up Great Chefs, The Frugal Gourmet, Justin Wilson, Graham Kerr, Martin Yan, and the fabulous Nathalie Dupree. Eventually becoming a professional cook (I just don't like the word chef for me) working in multiple restaurants and residences as caterer and private chef.
Oh Nathalie, you made me laugh and salivate. Nathalie Dupree's food was a wonderful cross between Cordon Bleu and deep South food education. I loved hearing her tell me not to cry if something didn't work, just make food taste good. "None of us are perfect, do the best you can."
When my family and I decided to make the move from North to South, choosing Charleston wasn't difficult. It's coastal, it's warm, it's steeped in history, it has great food. Lo and behold, it has Nathalie Dupree! Ms. Dupree relocated from Atlanta about ten years ago to Charleston. Wow, was I excited to see her name associated with the great food of Charleston. When her new book, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, was released in November 2012, I couldn't wait for a local signing. Seeing her in person was incredible! I was starstruck. I had my Mom and ten-year-old son with me, which made it even more special. I was just around his age when the food bug really got me! Nathalie and her co-author, Cynthia Graubart were wonderful. They signed the book and took some great photos with us to remember that sweet moment.
I dug into the beautiful compendium on the car ride home with my son snuggled right up with me. We oooohhhh and ahhhhhhed and every page! My son offhandedly said, "You should make every recipe in that book." Hummmm. I explained to him the "experiment" by Julie Powell on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, how it took on a life of it's own, a film, an academy award. More hummmmmm! Nathalie would make an excellent subject with her full, fun, and delicious life. Me, well, I'd be the boring part when one heads to the restroom, so I'll leave the fame to ND. I was on a quest to master the food of my new home, what better way than to tackle this beautiful, complete work? What better time than the first day of the new year? I mean, this is the South and page 175 of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking has some mean Hoppin' John! So, it's ON, Charleston. 760 magnificent recipes in 365 days. I'm not perfect and I WILL NOT CRY, but I just may earn some roots. I will see you on January 1st, with Hoppin' John and a few surprises. 2013 is the year I win you over, Charleston.