Monday, January 29, 2007

A Yankee Amongst the Magnolias - 6

Have you ever eaten just one grit? It's not very filling. ~ Bud Porter

So, after the last episode, the Daughter sends me an e-mail from a friend of hers with severely Yankee roots. It seems that the friend also likes sugar on her grits. Well, that's natural given her anecedents, but then she goes a bit too far. She allows how she likes to add milk so her grits are more like Cream O' Wheat(TM).

Frankly, my dear, that ain't gonna hack it down here amongst the grits trees.

There's nothing wrong with Cream O' Wheat (TM), hereafter referred to as CW, on account of I am a lazy typist. There are even occasional Southerners who will surreptitiously partake of the farina-based product. I was raised on the stuff myself, primarily because my mother was a great believer in food that stuck to one's ribs. Certainly CW will stick to one's ribs, as well as to anything else that it touches. CW is best served with about a half pound of sugar and a quarter pound of cinnamon to give it some semblance of flavor. It's really amazing stuff. When served in its molten state, it does have a grits-like consistency, but as it cools it approaches something more on the order of plaster of Paris. I'm sure there have more than a few emergency repairs done over the years with some left over CW.

In general, though, Southerners are not enamored of CW.

I did find one born and bred Alabamian, one of my co-workers, who admitted to having enjoyed sugar on his grits. Since he served a term in the Air Force, I assumed that he picked up this alien habit in his travels to various postings, but, no, he claimed to have sugared his grits since he was a mere babe.

I was properly amazed. He might as well have said that he didn't like catfish. He did, however, allow that CW was something that had never and would never cross his grits-raised gums. He also recognized that corn bread is never made sweet (strictly a Yankee activity) and the only way to make proper biscuits is to form them by hand from the bowl as you make the dough.

(I cannot do justice to describing the technique, but it's amazing to watch.)

So, I mentioned this unusual behavior to another Alabama native son. His response was to snort, and say something to the effect that the other guy's memory must be faulty. He must surely have picked up the sordid sugared-grits habit when he was stationed in Alaska or somewhere else north of Huntsville.

Clearly, this can be an emotional issue.

Speaking of emotional issues, I think I understated the mania for football here in Alabama in an earlier chapter. I've been an immigrant Alabamian for over twenty years now, and I thought I had seen the total range of angst and joy that Crimson Tide fans can go through. Then they hired Nick Saban to coach the Tide football team.

Now you can find rabid fans at a lot of universities. Texas fans are famous for their love of the game at all levels, from high school to professional. Georgia fans would trade their first born for the chance to babysit Uga for a week. Tennessee followers are actually willing to wear orange clothing at the drop of a coin toss. But nothing prepares one for the reaction of Bama fans to the arrival of Nick Saban.

Coach Saban arrived at Tuscaloosa's airport to find a huge crowd awaiting him. As he and his wife tried to work through the loving mob, one woman broke through and laid a serious lip-lock on the coach. She had to be pried loose. Welcome to Alabama, Coach. Since then, every move Coach Saban has made has been scrutinized, analyzed, and generally dissected into the minutest of details. For example, in his first press conference, people made great note of how genial the coach was. Geniality is not a Saban trademark, so this was remarked-upon as a sign of just how happy he was to be in Tuscaloosa.

A day or two later, he held another press conference, and he was all business, much more serious. That was taken as a good sign, too, as a coach down to the important business of winning championships -- and of beating Auburn.

He showed up at the LSU-Alabama basketball game wearing a shirt variously described as magenta or -- horrors-- LSU purple. I've heard less heated debates over the Iraq war as Saban defenders played down the shirt, while the less-committed (there are still Mike Shula fans out there) wondered if there was some sort of message there. I'm sure that there was; he just moved and that was a clean shirt comfortable shirt that he had to wear.

Generally, the Alabama faithful are pleased to have landed a big time coach with a track record of success (if one tactfully ignores the Miami Dolphin debacle). I do believe they're willing to give him two years to win the SEC championship and three to win the national championship. Why some folks have even had the largess to suggest that four years to a national championship would be acceptable--as long as he beats Auburn immediately.

That's just typical Southern gentility for you.

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