Spoonbread. It may not sound excessively appetizing, but… Who am I kidding? The concoction is not one of the South’s most obviously attractive fares. In fact, strong Dixie roots are almost a prerequisite for digestion, let alone enjoyment, of the antebellum cuisine.
The starchy side proves exactly as it sounds: the gritty-textured bread that crunches between your teeth while also managing a custardy, egg nature and flavor. For fans of cornmeal or eggs, this side dish might serve up the perfect accompaniment to stew or roast.
Recipes all read simply enough, with cheap ingredients and no-fuss instructions. Some even sport interesting additives, like bacon bits, kernel corn, cheese or chives. Each hopes to create an even heartier dish, and many look to mimic the breakfast casseroles so common at church potlucks.
Some might describe spoonbread as grits on steroids. Whether you like it or not, it tastes, undeniably, of traditional southern cooking.
I find myself drawn to it: The side dish fails to make my list of favorite fare, but it tempts my palate like a traditional, Christmas fruit salad: I don’t eagerly anticipate it; I’d rather eat turkey and dressing. But I always—almost compulsively—scoop a serving each time it appears on the dinner table. Spoonbread, in all its gritty glory, tastes like family. It smells of tradition and bears the crunch of family gatherings gone by.
Spoonbread tastes like the South.
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