Southern ComfortsPosted: August 6, 2014
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I left my home in Atlanta in 2005 to complete my bachelor’s degree in Chicago, and to prove that I could live on my own and support myself.
Four years later, in the autumn of 2008, I retreated to Augusta, Georgia. I had graduated college without any job prospects, yearning for home, healing and family. My mother had a career at the local army installation as a social worker and was a happy, independent woman, mother, and grandmother. She was a success.
Augusta was a tired old Southern town compared to my youth in Atlanta and years as a college student in Chicago. I battled bouts of depression and boredom in my mother’s new home. I needed a connection to this new place and my mother’s life.
I began reading her old African-American cookbooks and revising the recipes to be healthier. Both my parents were Charleston, South Carolina natives and had roots in the Gullah Geechee culture. I found myself reconnecting to my heritage through all these old family recipes. I began finding renewed meaning and purpose in my new home.
Planning and cooking these Gullah Geechee dishes with my mother joined our new home with old traditions. My self doubts and insecurities about my future withered away each time we created meals together. These unique recipes encapsulated our culture and reconnected me to my mother and the passion for life that I had lost.
FRIED SWEET POTATOES
Adapted from “The Ultimate Gullah Cookbook” by Veronica Davis Gerald & Jesse E. Gantt, Jr.
4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
3 Tbs of confectioner sugar (optional)
Wash and peel potatoes. Slice potatoes in 1/8 circles and soak in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes.
Preheat oil to 350° in a large cast iron skillet on the stove.
Remove potatoes from water and pat dry with a towel. Place potatoes in the oil making sure each slice is covered by the oil. Slices will float to the top when done.
Remove from skillet onto dry towel to soak up any remaining oil.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and confectioners sugar.
Basheera is a native of Atlanta, GA and a daughter of African descent. She is fascinated with the history of the African diaspora and (re)connects with it through travel, culture, & cuisine. You can find her curious musings on Twitter at @msbmack.