Learning to Talk Southern

This week, I was invited to have lunch with Matt and his colleagues at Green Manor Restaurant in Union City, Ga. Green Manor is a beautiful old Southern home that, according to its website, was built in the early 1900’s over the foundation of an early 1800’s home. During the noontime hour, the restaurant is packed with throngs of locally employed people on their lunch breaks and gaggles of older Southern ladies gathering for their weekly gossip session–all happily digging in to a buffet of traditional Southern foods like fried chicken and mac and cheese.

Having no car anymore, I took the MARTA train to the airport and Matt picked me up there. I was running a bit late due to the constant interruptions multiple calls I received from my husband as I was getting ready (he was planning our travels over the next few weeks, so I forgive him).

Matt’s colleagues were already seated at our table in the restaurant when we arrived. There was a miniature Delta Boeing 757 on the table that they got for Matt as a going away present. He was thrilled! We all exchanged quick pleasantries before tackling the buffet in the other room.

Oh the buffet! If you like Southern food, you’d like eating at the Green Manor. One long buffet table in the middle of the room was loaded with steaming trays of collard greens, seasoned corn, butter beans, ham, turkey and, of course, fried chicken and mac and cheese. A second table along the rear wall was decked with fresh fruit, green salad and chicken salad. Another table, tucked in a little cove, had a hot crock of the soup of the day (which happened to be vegetable when we were there). The last table (and a serious contestant for my favorite) was lined with fresh rolls, cornbread, cakes, peach cobbler and a banana pudding that is to die for.

About half of this plate is mac and cheese–I just covered it with veggies and meat to look a little healthier. Shhh.
Peach cobbler and banana pudding that is to die for!

The conversation at lunch was great and the food was delicious, but my favorite part was when Matt’s colleagues started teaching us Southern words and phrases. Some of them I knew, like “fixing” (as in “I’m going to…”). I’m fixing to eat all the mac and cheese in this restaurant.

Others, I hadn’t yet come across, including “to mash” (“mash the button”) and toboggan (in my mind this is a long sled, but in the South it means winter hat). Matt also got schooled in banana pudding. He insisted that the dessert of slightly soft vanilla wafers, creamy pudding and meringue with a slightly crunchy, caramelized crust that melts in your mouth, should be called something other than banana pudding. We all informed him differently.

So now we’re all set to talk Southern in the south of France. Au Revoir y’all.

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