mother and grandmother. It’s touching
that the kind of cooking I grew up doing
with my family is now being embraced
up here in New York.”
Hungry Mother’s Maiden also is
humbled by Northerners’ show of faith.
He grew up in Marion, Va., where he
and his family would sit on the porch
and shell beans for a supper with pota-
toes. As a child, his favorite thing to eat
was “the big biscuit,” which his grand-
mother made by gathering all the left-
over dough scraps after she’d cut out
the regular-size biscuits.
“I wanted to change people’s perspec-
tive on what Southern food was,” he
says. “I wanted to have a place that would
educate people on what true Southern
Appalachian cooking was all about—and
not do any fried chicken. [None of ] the
all-around comfort food people think
about when they think Southern.”
The restaurant, which has walls of
white bricks accented with brown, green
and black, also serves pimento cheese,
shrimp and grits, and a cornmeal-crusted
catfish—but with a New England twist.
Those boiled peanuts, for example, are
dusted with sea salt from Maine. Most
folks are familiar with the dish, but one
customer recently sent his order back.
“These peanuts are disgusting!”
Maiden remembers the diner saying.
The staff explained that peanuts are
prepared this way in the South and
instructed him how to eat them: Break
open the shell and then, as with eda-mame or an oyster, suck the peanuts out
of the moist shell. You also can scoop
them out with your hands.
“Oh, boiled peanuts?” the man
exclaimed. “I thought you said broiled
“Some people are still clueless,” says
Maiden, with a laugh.
But most are willing to learn.
The education has been slow in coming.
When the Lee brothers were hawking
boiled peanuts in New York in 1994, they
had no luck at all.
“Peanuts are something you think
you know—you’ve grown up with them
tasting one way your whole life,” says
Matt Lee. “And you taste a boiled peanut
and you realize it can taste more like a
chickpea? It’s disturbing.”
Or take dessert. Tipsy Parson in
Chelsea is named after the old Southern
trifle called tipsy parson. At the restau-
rant, it’s a sponge cake soaked in brandy
and served with berries, pastry cream
and almonds. At first, says chef-owner
Julie Wallach, no one understood the
name—of either the restaurant or the
dish. These days, they have a regular
who loves the tipsy parson dessert so
much that he orders it before his meal.
“As an appetizer!” Wallach says.
Edge, who also has written many
books on Southern cuisine, including Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food
The ultimate comfort
food: fried green
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