The idea of “comfort food” is interesting to me.
I grew up in West Georgia. My dad’s family has lived in the same hundred miles going back over two hundred years, and my maternal grandmother grew up in the Appalachian mountains of North Georgia. So one might say we’re a Southern family, and certainly a Georgian one. And the fact is, what most Americans consider “comfort food” or “Soul food” to us is just weekly and daily occurrences. Cornbread, black-eye peas, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens – or just “greens”, as it’s often a combination of several different types of leafy greens- were made, consumed, and enjoyed regularly. Fried steak with gravy, pork chops, salmon patties, and hamburger steaks are entrees I ate with gusto several times a month. Meatloaf was reserved for Sunday’s after-church dinner, as was pot roast. It’s just always odd when I see common childhood meals referred to as “comfort food,” as though you can’t eat those foods as often as you want.
This topic crossed my mind when I went to supper with a dear friend of mine. Neither of us had been to that restaurant before, a place in downtown Austell, GA called the South Cobb Diner. The food was superb. The company was fantastic of course, an old friend I had fallen out of touch with and proceeded to spend two hours catching up. But the food. It was amazing. Sometimes at restaurants one or two things on the plate will taste sub-par or even canned, but everything was clearly fresh and homemade. Fried steak, Vidalia onion gravy, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens.
I have had a love-hate relationship with greens over the course of my life. Apparently when I was very young I would happily drink “pot likker,” which is the term I’ve always heard for the liquid left after the greens are cooked. I had low iron so that was probably really healthy for me. Then for most of my childhood I hated even the sight of greens, along with most boiled vegetables (unfortunately, vegetables in the South either come fried or boiled, so there were frequent grumblings and arguments about how many boiled things I had to eat). Now, greens and I have a tentative agreement that hinges on the presence of Franks hot sauce (as they say, I put that sh*t on everything, sorta).
All that to say, greens don’t often stand out as something I particularly enjoy. But these greens. Ya’ll. I think they changed my life. I would love to figure out how to make them. The only issue with greens is this; the recipe. No one I know is particularly fond of using a recipe if they don’t need it, and I come from a long line of women who glance at a recipe and then mostly ignore it and do what they want. So my concern is that there probably aren’t very many written recipes for greens, and they’re probably all just a list of ingredients.
My first foray into the world of collard greens (henceforth just “greens”) came on a Monday afternoon. The menu for the night was greens, hoppin’ john, and cornbread. I have made the latter two dishes more times than I can count, but as stated above, it would be my first try at greens.
I used the list of ingredients I was given, tried my best, and… they were ok. Not the best, not inedible (I guess), but just, eh. I think greens might just have to be the thing I can’t cook. And honestly, that’s ok with me. I can cook plenty of other dishes that are delicious, so I think I’ll manage without knowing how to cook greens. But if you want the other recipes, click the links below.