Arts & Culture
G&G’s Manual of Southern Know-How
From mixing the perfect Bloody Mary to casting into the wind, our experts have you covered at every level—newcomers and natives alike—on the skills every Southerner should master
Pour the Perfect Bloody Mary
Charleston, South Carolina, restaurateur Brooks Reitz shares a family secret
“When I became old enough to pay attention to my folks’ weekend morning rituals, I couldn’t help but notice that once the coffee was dry—like clockwork—it was time for a ‘Bloody.’ In my younger days, my dad, Scott, kept the ingredients in our pantry, close at hand. As my brothers and I grew older and departed for college, my parents quickly began taking their show on the road. They’d never travel without their Bloody Mary ‘kit,’ which began simply as an extra tote bag stuffed with ingredients but grew much more sophisticated with time.”
Know When to Write a Thank-You Note
Wry author and Alabama native Helen Ellis shares the Dos and Don’ts
“I don’t write thank-yous every day, but I send them for dinner parties or a night out with a friend. When it comes to marriage, they should amend the bride’s vows. Do you promise to love, honor, and write the thank-you notes? You do. Do you have to write one to your husband for picking a squirrel corpse out of the roof gutter? You don’t.
But it would be nice.”
Thump a Watermelon
Of the Southern watermelon, Mark Twain once wrote, “When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.” Which is true, if that watermelon is ripe. Old wives’ tales abound on how to tell if the fruit is ready. So we put the question to two experts: Heather Raulerson, president of the Alabama Watermelon Association and former Florida Watermelon Queen, and Martha Hall Foose, a renowned Mississippi chef who once won a watermelon-seed-spitting contest.
Spin a Smoking Southern Playlist
Let the Texas-Born music legend get you started with his ideal lineup.
Float a River
Three tube-time tricks
Expand Your Southern Canon
It’s time to crack the spines of the new literary classics
Welty. Lee. Faulkner. Sure, sure. And you’re all set on Walker and Conroy—great. But you should also update your bookshelves with the definitive Southern fiction of the last two decades or so. Mary Laura Philpott—author and founding editor of Musing, the literary magazine produced by Nashville’s Parnassus Books—recommends beginning with these novels.
Cast Into the Wind
Champion angler Andy Mill on the secret to working a breeze in your favor
All you need are your own bare hands
You can add no more Southern a fruit to your yard than the thick-skinned, juicy muscadine grape. But what is the best way to grow your own?
Do NOLA Like a Local
Let New Orleans native and award-winning screenwriter Lolis Eric Elie guide you away from Bourbon Street to the avenues experiencing a resurgence around the city
“Oretha Castle Haley. Freret. Oak. Remember those street names. Cling to them like the heirlooms they are. No matter how much the corporate hotel chains and the corporate restaurants try to herd you with the rest of the cattle to the usual New Orleans places, resist.”
Press Your Silver Into Service
Georgia-based author and interior designer James Farmer makes the case for using the good stuff every day
Inherited, purchased, no matter: Take your silver out of your sideboard, give it a polish, and start working it into your day-to-day—boiled peanuts in a Jefferson cup, anyone?
Escape Pluff Mud
Alabama outdoorsman Jimbo Meador on the art of getting unstuck
“We call it muck down here in the Mobile delta. I love it because it means there are ducks and snipes and redfish around. But I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get through the stuff. It just sucks you down.”
Fry Super Crispy Okra
The accomplished Southern cook is well versed in okra’s star qualities—the vegetable, be it roasted, pickled, or stewed, brings depth to any dish. But the most satisfying preparation, fried to a perfect crunch, may also be the trickiest. Okra’s mucilage (its slime) is prized when thickening stews such as gumbo but can complicate frying. Meherwan Irani, the chef-owner of Asheville’s Chai Pani, has a solution: his okra “fries,” which fuse the snack his mother cooked for him in central India with the Southern standard to produce some of the crispiest okra around.
Bag a Bourbon Boat Drink
Some things you should probably never take from a friend: a loan, a used car, an ex-lover. Recipes are another matter, as countless church and Junior League cookbooks attest. So consider Jan Gautro your new best friend. The Birmingham, Alabama, culinary photo stylist has perfected the frozen bourbon margarita in a plastic freezer bag—an ideal cocktail for hours of booze cruising.
Shoot an Incoming Dove
How to target a bird on an overhead trajectory
Design a Nighttime Garden
Some of the most alluring blooms show off in the moonlight
A gardenia knows just how to entice. At dusk, the waxy white flower’s fragrance intensifies, attracting pollinating moths—and nudging garden lovers to slip outside to enjoy the intoxicating scent of nighttime in the South. Just the reason Scott Ogden, a Texan, garden designer, and author of The Moonlit Garden, likes to plant nocturnal landscapes.
Make an Appealing Tomato Aspic
Three Southern chefs on bringing back the classic dish
Too bad tomato aspic gets voted into the fruitcake hall of shame. The tangy molded dish can jump-start a meal or add a pop of acidity to fatty foods. Why not experiment with refreshing the classic?
Train your Own Gun Dog
Brad Arington, owner of Mossy Pond Retrievers in Patterson, Georgia, on how to get your bird every time by laying a strong foundation
Top a Fizz
Gin, citrus, simple syrup, cream, egg white—now what?