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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

My Mississippi

January 18, 2010

My Mississippi

A decade ago, I wrote a short, stream-of-consciousness piece disputing the negative and stereotypical views the South. It quickly spread across the World Wide Web, spawned a couple of books, and a regional broadcast network’s imaging and branding campaign. Actually, it’s still making its way around the Internet.

Several months ago I was asked to speak at The Governor’s Conference on Tourism. I reworked the original My South piece with a specific focus on Mississippi. Since then I have been fielding numerous requests for the piece. Here it is.

My Mississippi

My Mississippi is where we all gather to share a meal. It’s a neighbor coming over with a freshly baked pie when you’ve suffered a loss.

My Mississippi is full of literary giants and coffee-shop storytellers.

In My Mississippi we put hot sauce on everything, and hotter hot sauce on everything else.

In My Mississippi the coffee is as bold as the women, as smooth as the babies, and strong as the men.

In My Mississippi it’s “pecan” (puh-cahn). A pee can is something one uses in a bathroom emergency.

My Mississippi has music that will make you take a dirt road home.

In My Mississippi fried chicken is a religion and the holy church of cast iron is the sanctuary.

In My Mississippi grandmothers always have a cake under glass or a pie on the counter.

In My Mississippi we never use one syllable to say something that would sound so much sweeter when using two.

In my Mississippi we use knives, forks, and spoons, but we let cornbread and biscuits finish the job.

In My Mississippi slowing down is not a choice, it’s a way of life.

My Mississippi h is hand-cranked ice cream with fresh peaches and a brain freeze.

My Mississippi is small-town Christmas parades and pancake-breakfast fundraisers.

In My Mississippi grandfathers tell stories— mostly true— while peeling peaches with pocketknives.

My Mississippi is crickets in the grass, lightning bugs in jars, and neighbors on the sidewalk.

In My Mississippi food is the common link that we share; it is the catalyst that brings us together.

Where is My Mississippi? It’s more than a place on the map, it’s in your heart, it’s in your soul, and it’s in your stomach. My Mississippi is your Mississippi.

Delta Tomatoes

2 Tbl Butter
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 /2 cup Onion, medium dice
1 /2 cup Celery, medium dice
1 /2 cup Bell pepper, medium dice
28 oz can Tomatoes, diced
1 /4 cup Sugar
1 /4 cup Brown sugar
2 Tbl Fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp Dried basil
2 Tbl Cornstarch
2 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 /2 tsp Black pepper
1 1 /4 cup Seasoned breadcrumbs
1 /4 cup Melted Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sautee onion, celery and bell pepper in butter and olive oil. Cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, both sugars and both basils. Mix cornstarch in vinegar and add to tomato mixture. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper and pour into a greased casserole. Mix together breadcrumbs and butter. Top tomatoes with breadcrumbs and bake 30-45 minutes or until filling is bubbly and breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Yield: 10 – 12 servings

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