While on the Grand Southern Literary Tour 2013 book buying spree, I came across The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life (2003). Now, I ask you, how could I resist buying this book on the ways and means of Southern Belles by Deborah Ford?
Having been raised south of the Mason-Dixon Line I already knew that Pearls were considered the Crown Jewels down here and that when you offered a guest a 'coke' that could include any drink from Coca-Cola to 7-Up to ginger ale. I was raised on hand-written thank you notes and perfect table manners. And although I didn't inherit my mama's cast iron skillet, I can stir up a pan of cornbread with the best of them.
This is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously - even though sports fans in the South do! If you have a hankerin' to find out what makes a Steel Magnolia bloom, you have to look no further than this guide that covers how we feel about Southern Style and Manners, Hospitality, Music, Religion, Family and Friends. There is a section on The Southern Wedding and one (a little more serious) on Successful Southern Women who have made a difference outside the South. (Think Diane Sawyer, Oprah Winfrey, and Maya Angelou.)
Best of all, there are tried-and-true Southern recipes for Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes, Sister Schubert's Special Rolls, the Mint Julep, and the always welcome staple, Cheesy Grits Casserole.
Sprinkled through the book are entries such as:
Grits Glossary - newcomer, n: any neighbor who has lived there less than ten years, unless her mother is from the area, of course.
Grits Pearl of Wisdom - If you are going to flavor a Southern tea the only options are mint and lemon. Anything else would simply be uncivilized.
And here is a grammar lesson:
Y'all is singular.
All y'all is plural.
All y'all's is plural possessive.
If you have ever wondered what a Moon Pie is or where on earth branch water (as in bourbon and branch) comes from or how to make a perfect pitcher of sweet tea, the answers are all here.
This book would make the perfect housewarming gift for your new neighbor from the North (i.e., a Yankee) who needs a bit of help in making the transition to living in the South. Or, perhaps your niece is getting married and needs a subtle refresher course in manners. Or, maybe just a present for yourself if you want an amusing look at what makes a Southern Belle so, well, Southern. Y'all.