Stereotypes about Southerners abound. When it comes to Southern women, folks immediately think of Scarlett O’Hara and Daisy Duke. For the men-folk, it’s a toss up between Larry the Cable Guy or the Colonel from those fast-food fried chicken commercials. Bless their hearts.
Truth is, there is a rich culture in the South unlike any other. And when you’re part of such a deeply rooted culture, you’re gonna have standards. Compared to other regions in America, people from the South have a stronger sense of “this is how it’s done” than their brethren.
All stereotypes aside, it does seem an internal rulebook guides all Southerners. This couldn’t be truer than when we’re talking cooking, manners, and church. Here are three rules for Southern living.
1. If it ain’t Duke’s, it ain’t mayonnaise – We Southerners are fastidious about our food, to say the least. Certain axioms will forever ring true – cornbread doesn’t have sugar, iced tea does, you fry chicken in a cast iron skillet, and instant grits aren’t grits. Lord help you if your pimento cheese is too wet or too dry. And don’t try to sneak in Miracle Whip over Duke’s; any Southerner can taste the difference.
2. Yes, ma’am; no, ma’am; yes, sir; and no sir – From the moment children south of the Mason-Dixon learn to talk, they learn how to respectfully address their elders. Young’uns are taught never to call adults by their first names but to instead add “Miss” or “Mr.” to names. Chivalry reigns supreme – men and boys open doors for women and girls. It’s not old-fashioned. It’s respectful and it’s how you’re raised.
3. Find your pew and take a seat – Come Sunday mornings, most Southerners load up in the car and head out to their houses of worship. Here we see a culture split – on one end you have the contemporary church camp, and on the other, the traditionalists. Contemporary worshippers may dress down in jeans on Sunday mornings. During their services, a live band performs the praise music, making it an amplified version of your grandmother’s church. Traditional people (like your grandmother) dress up and are content with the standard piano and organ ensemble. Here’s where the Easter dress – with proper shoes and handbag – is always in fashion.
You may not agree with these rules. If you don’t, you’re probably not from around here. And, if Southern style bothers you, remember, “Delta’s ready when you are.”