Hotdish & Sweet Tea
A while back, I came up with a tagline for my blog that I feel expresses a lot about who I am: Hotdish & Sweet Tea. I’ve received plenty of reactions to this particular wordsmithing, ranging from chuckles to quizzical looks, and many have asked what it means.
I’ll start with sweet tea, as chronologically in my life it came first. I grew up in rural North Carolina. Where I was born, acorns don’t fall far from trees. Most people put down roots right where they are without looking very far beyond the horizon. Days are filled with hard work to make a living, and nights are spent in white wooden swings on wrap-around porches with a book in one hand and sweet tea in the other. Gently swaying forward and backward, you can hear bullfrogs, crickets, and other creatures singing their songs while the stress of the day just seems to melt away into the night. The hottest days end with storms and showers that cool down the Earth so you can sleep. If you’ve got a problem that relaxing into the dusk can’t handle, you’ve always got your neighbors that you’ve probably known your whole life to help talk you through it. Everyone matters, everyone is good at something, and nobody gets left behind.
Hotdish came next, when I moved to Minnesota. The differences here are immense. There are a lot of transients, and the general world view seems much broader. With 3.5 million residents, the Twin Cities is the nation’s 16th-largest metropolitan area. The majority of Minnesota, however, is rural. When the Winter hits, the way Minnesotans outside the metropolitan areas survive is based on the community. People make sure others are taken care of and not left cold or stranded. There’s no better way to warm up in the bitter cold of a Minnesota Winter than with a heaping portion of whatever hotdish someone has cooked up. It stays warm for a long time, and has no problem filling you up with its generous starch and meat. Originally used by farm wives to feed large families and church congregations, it remains a staple year-round at church gatherings, family reunions, and potlucks. No matter how easy most hotdishes are to make, you can always feel the love in every bite.
So what do you get when you add both together? Well, you get to indulge yourself while sharing with others. You find a mix of Southern Hospitality and Minnesota Nice. You remember both to work hard and to relax. You know that others around you need your love and support as much as you need theirs. Each bite of hotdish will make you feel at home in a place that adopted you, and no matter how far away you are from the place of your birth, one sip of sweet tea makes sure you never forget putting others first always seems to work out right.
In the literal sense of them both, hotdish and sweet tea really do go well together. If you don’t believe it, just come see me. I’ll make you some of both and chat until the dusk turns to dawn.