Chicken and waffles. Golden, salty, and sweet. It sounds delicious, but I have to admit: I’ve never eaten it. I’m not sure if it has always been a popular Southern dish or if it has just recently become trendy, but I hear about chicken and waffles more these days than I ever did growing up in Georgia. Mmmm, now I want chicken and waffles. Crispy fried chicken, juicy and salty, and a thin-crusted cakey waffle with salty butter and sweet syrup. Now I’m hungry.
I wasn’t a fan of a lot of traditional Southern foods. I don’t care about barbeque, I didn’t like Brunswick stew. I never liked sweet tea until I was an adult, and even now I never drink it. I don’t cook my greens in lard or bacon fat, I don’t go crazy for all the insanely fatty dishes that bury the flavor of the foundational vegetable.
The Southern foods I do love, though, are biscuits – flaky and bronzed. The biscuit I had at the donut shop in New Orleans was one of the best foods I have ever put in my mouth. I had caramelized bacon and a fried egg on it, and between the savory sweet crispness of the bacon, and the soft heartiness of the egg, and the buttery crisp-on-the-outside, melt-on-the-inside biscuit, it was groan-inducing. The biscuit was even better than the donut I got, which was praline pecan and would have been remarkable if not for the biscuit.
So I love biscuits. And I love grits. Though I only love grits when they are well-made: thick and rich and creamy, salty, and with a smooth cheese, and then, best of all, dotted with shrimp and maybe a couple of fresh tomato slices. And salt. Did I mention the salt? My God. Yum.
And finally, pecan pie. That’s a Southern dish I will always claim, rich and sweet and bourbon brown, with succulent toasted pecans on top, and the flaky crust that cuts the sweetness, and just a touch of salt, because salt with sweet is the only way to go.
Photo credit: Keith McDuffee Homemade waffles
For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Thank you to LRose for the prompt “Cotton swabs.”