WHERE SAUCE IS THE BOSS
Pride for regional barbecue runs deep, whether the meat is left pure and juicy, or doused in a vinegar-, tomato-, or mustard-based sauce. In Alabama, folks enjoy a white barbecue sauce that’s typically a combination of mayonnaise, vinegar, horseradish, and cayenne pepper. The tangy condiment marinates, bastes, or tops smoked chicken, and adds a flavorful kick to just about anything edible. Find it alongside catfish at chef David Bancroft’s Bow & Arrow restaurant in Auburn, and in Birmingham, slathered on a chicken sandwich at Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q or dousing the smoked turkey breast at pitmaster Rodney Scott’s newest location.
Designing Women, a beloved sitcom that aired on CBS from 1986 to 1993, has found new fans since Hulu recently started streaming all seven seasons. The lead characters, four Atlanta interior designers including the sisters Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker, broadcast the nuances of Southern culture to the world—and challenged stereotypes of Southern women.
SEE SEA COWS
Endowed with bulbous bodies, large hairy snouts, leathery skin known to sport barnacles, and deep-set eyes, Florida manatees are herbivorous mammals found along Southeastern coasts and especially along the Sunshine State. When the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic turn chilly in late fall, these slow-moving gentle giants—most closely related to the elephant—head to inland springs to huddle up for the winter where the aquatic grazing is plentiful and the water temperature hovers around a balmy seventy-two degrees.
FROM THE CANON
Born to sharecroppers in Eatonton, Georgia, Alice Walker grew up in a Southern world that comes alive in her short stories, poems, essays, children’s books, and novels. Her best-known work, The Color Purple—a novel composed of letters written by the protagonist, Celie—won Walker both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1983 before spawning a Tony-winning Broadway musical and a Steven Spielberg–directed film.
BRIGHT SIDE OF THE MOON
You might spot a moonbow, also called a white rainbow, at Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, but if you want to stay closer to home, try Cumberland Falls near Corbin, Kentucky. Rare lunar rainbows—seen with any regularity only at those locations—form on the nights leading up to and following a full moon, when the glow hits mist, and water droplets reflect and refract light into a ghostly arc. In December, enjoy seven possible evenings to spot the notoriously elusive sight over the Cumberland River in Daniel Boone National Forest. The awe-inspiring and nearly seventy-foot-tall Cumberland Falls are also known by which of these nicknames?
THIRD BIRD’S A CHARM
Pop a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, cook it, and for better or worse, the result is a turducken. This holiday centerpiece isn’t really a Southern original—engastration, or the culinary art of sticking an animal into another animal, dates back to the Middle Ages.
Although Callinectes sapidus (the Atlantic blue crab) literally translates to “beautiful savory swimmer,” as William W. Warner writes in his 1977 Pulitzer–winning book, Beautiful Swimmers, “whether or not Callinectes may justly be considered beautiful depends on whom you ask.” The blue crab’s appetite (they’ll eat anything, including one another) coupled with prolific reproduction (a female lays clutches numbering two million eggs) means they’ve colonized coasts from Nova Scotia to Uruguay. Nowhere are they more iconic than in the Chesapeake Bay, where this year’s season runs through December 15.
A RIBBITING STORY
In his 2006 autobiography, Before You Leap, Kermit the Frog—yes, the Muppet—asks his readers: “How did a tadpole like me, born one of 2,353 brothers and sisters, make his way from the obscure snake-infested swamps of his youth to the, uh, snake-infested swamps of Hollywood?” Kermit’s creator, the puppeteer Jim Henson, drew inspiration for his most famous character from the creeks and swamps around his Mississippi hometown, which honors its beloved native sons with a museum featuring Muppet artifacts and memorabilia, including an original Kermit strumming a banjo.
SHADES OF BLUE
Just ten miles apart on Tobacco Road, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, both of which traditionally excel at basketball, have established their rivalry as one of the most heated in sports. In the 181 games played since the 1949–1950 season, the two teams have scored an almost identical number of points against one another, right around 13,750 each as of the end of last season. The programs have helped shape many greats of the game, including UNC’s Michael Jordan and Vince Carter and Duke’s Grant Hill and Zion Williamson, the promising forward for the New Orleans Pelicans. Which coach has won the most games throughout his career?
THE RIDDEN WORD
Will Rogers’s prowess first with a lasso and later with a pen earned him the title the Cowboy Philosopher in the 1920s and ’30s. A master of one-liners ranging from sage advice (“Never miss a good chance to shut up”) to political quips (“The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected”), Rogers wrote nearly four thousand columns and six books in his lifetime. He praised his native Oklahoma as a “mental giant of the constellation of states, the lighthouse of morality, physically a Madonna, the geographical and artistic center of a liberty-searching nation.”
The Nature Conservancy dubbed the ACE Basin “one of the last great places.” Home to the oak tree where film’s Forrest Gump fell in love with Jenny, ancient Native American shell rings, roseate spoonbills, sea turtles, and more than fifteen hundred other species of plants and animals, its three hundred and fifty thousand acres between Charleston and Hilton Head Island make it one of the largest undeveloped wetland and upland ecosystems on the Atlantic coast.
YOU’RE AS SMOOTH AS…
Aside from geography, not much separates Tennessee whiskey and Kentucky bourbon. They’re both the potent results of fermented grains aging in oak barrels, elixirs born of water, ingenuity, and time. But in 2013, the Tennessee legislature set a definition to paper, passing a bill that legally outlined what can and cannot be labeled a Tennessee whiskey. Most of the stipulations for how it must be made are the same as the process for making bourbon, with one major difference.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Writer John Graves was born in Fort Worth in 1920, and his works explore the landscape of his home state. His book Goodbye to a River recounts a three-week, 175-mile canoe trip he took with his dachshund in the late 1950s. He notes in detail the natural beauty and history of the area, such as stories of the Spanish settlers, the Comanche tribe, and the rangers and cattlemen who once called the banks home. The book garnered critical praise and helped protect Graves’s beloved waterway.
HOUND FOR THE HOLIDAYS
On the first Saturday in December, the Middleburg Hunt parades more than one hundred riders on horseback alongside packs of American foxhounds down the holiday-card-ready scene on Middleburg, Virginia’s main thoroughfare, past crowds of merrymakers and the town’s forty-five-foot spruce.
Upon Marjorie Merriweather Post’s death in 1973, the philanthropist and former owner of General Foods left her 1920s-era D.C. mansion as a museum filled with relics from her life of travel and art collecting. Outside, the extensive gardens include a French parterre, a Russian dacha, a four-seasons overlook, and a turf-covered putting green.
FUEL FOR FUEL
As the story goes, an Italian miner turned baker named Giuseppe Argiro was the first person to sell pepperoni rolls in West Virginia, in the 1920s. They were the perfect snack for workers to nosh on underground: calorie-packed and requiring only one hand to eat. Today, the soft white yeast rolls wrapped around sticks or slices of pepperoni are convenience store staples and a source of state pride.
How’d you do? 16 correct: Did you cheat, or should we make you a contributing editor? 8–15: Pretty darn good. 1–7: You’ve still got a thing or two to learn about the South. 0: Bless your heart.
How about 200 Questions?
If you passed this quiz with flying colors, want to bolster your Southern bona fides, or are ready to win the night at a holiday party, you just might enjoy Garden & Gun’s Bless Your Heart: 200 Trivia Questions to Prove Your Southern Know-How (Clarkson Potter). The card game celebrates the South across four categories: Travel & Places, Food & Drink, Sports & Culture, and Literature & Arts. An enclosed booklet shares game instructions for playing solo or in a group, plus recipes for party bites and sips including bacon crackers and a quintessential mint julep. Give the game as a gift or keep it on your bar cart to gently grill your guests.