Southern Summer Favorites

This summer, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Virginia Wills’ blog for Southern Foodway’s Alliance where she features iconic summer foods that Southerners have enjoyed for years. She screamed for ice cream, went crazy for corn, and spilled the beans on some of the joys of summer for those of us south of the Mason Dixon.

Southerners have historically enjoyed the same food as those who tended this land generations before us. Even as the food culture around us develops, we enjoy simple foods done well. Ellerbe Fine Foods is a perfect example of this. Chef Molly McCook’s seasonal menus highlight the same fresh vegetables and produce that grandmothers have featured on dinner plates for decades. 

As proud Texans, we are always quick to separate ourselves from others. We’re a proud bunch and hold our heads a little higher as we proclaim our home state to those who ask where we are from. Our food is just as proud. Texas is a melting pot of cultural foods. “Texas Cuisine” pulls influences from the creole dishes of Louisiana, the European settlers of Central Texas, the Mexican flavors of those to our South and African-Americans who developed cooking styles to making greens and beans into meals of themselves with the addition of hog jowl.

Kolaches, brisket, pecan pie, chicken fried steak and enchiladas are all foods synonymous with this great state. The challenge of finding the best of these in Fort Worth and then expanding and looking for the best in the state are challenges that many find enjoyably challenging.

We are also blessed with fertile soil to provide us with the enjoyable “simple dishes.” My family always planted a large garden near our house when I was a child. Summer evenings were spent pulling weeds or shelling peas that we had picked that morning. The reward was when my Dad would cut open a fresh watermelon that had only moments before been sitting on the warm black dirt. We would enjoy the early evening with juice dripping off of our chins as we would see who could spit seeds the farthest. Mom would sprinkle some salt on out next piece.

As the end of summer draws near, I will miss the foods of summer just as much as the time spent with friends and family. Have a great Labor Day weekend and enjoy some great food and drink!

Russell Kirkpatrick is AGM at Reata Restaurant and Founder of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival