Since we moved to Texas over a year ago I have been on a fascinating journey into the traditional foods of the south. Since we are homesteading, and attempting to produce as much of our own food as possible, it is clear to me that the traditional food of your region is the food that you can grow sustainably from year to year in whatever conditions your region throws at you
For us that is sweet potatoes and greens – two of the few crops that survived the onslaught of chicken and grasshopper armies along with the blazing 100 degree days and severe drought.
So naturally, I have been incorporating these two staple foods into as many meals as possible, including a simple vegetable-based lunch that combines the two. Along with some bacon or salt pork, most likely a staple meat in our near future, the greens come alive with some onions and garlic.
Sweet potatoes are fried in lard or coconut oil, boiled and mashed with fresh goat milk, or baked whole and smothered in butter and salt. The greens can vary, depending on what you have growing this time of year. Collards, mustard, or kale greens are great but so is cabbage if that’s all you’ve got. Adding some tomatoes and herbs or beans and spices to your mess o’ greens wouldn’t be wrong either.
If you’re not a dweller of the South then you might consider a similar combination available from your own backyard. Starchy russet potatoes along with cabbages and ham, a root vegetable mash along with bitter dandelions in the earliest days of spring, or Irish colcannon that combines the best of mashed potatoes with greens, bacon, and fresh scallions.
This food is born out of a necessity to simply nourish ones family. And it is out of that need that such delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meals are born. For necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention – even at the dinner table.