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a southern breakfast


by Cliff Lowe

As a young southern boy, growing up in Kentucky, I learned early on that you had to start the day with a good breakfast. Forking and/or baling hay, cutting and hanging tobacco, and hoeing acres of weeds and feeding livestock would soon burn up all the energy of a puny breakfast. a

Southern breakfasts are nothing if not hearty. They had to be. Long abefore my time, the people of the south worked hard at raising crops, feeding and milking, and putting up meat and vegetables to get them through the winters. Often, they had to hunt for food and dined on such things as buffalo, deer, quail, wild grouse, and the like. And when the weekend came they were ready to sit and dine leisurely over a big breakfast while, often, having a friend or neighbor over to share the morning.

Southern cooking, by today's standards, is not always considered healthy because it contains a lot of rich ingredients such as cream, butter, eggs and other fat.The cuisine has a lot of fried foods, too. But, I have found no other cooking in the world to be as tasty and as soul satisfying as southern cooking.

It is also not unusual to find fried chicken being served as a breakfast food in Kentucky and Tennessee.

It reminds me of a trip I made one time to Corbin Kentucky to see some friends of mine. Another friend and I decided, on a whim, late one Saturday afternoon, to drive down to visit our friends. We got started quite late; we had been out partying the day before and were still suffering from that and, to top things off, it began raining and storming. By the time we got our act together and started the trip, it was dark, stormy, and raining so hard that it was nearly impossible to see more than 100 feet in front of the car. We took turns driving, and as we entered Corbin, I was behind the wheel. To reach our friend's house, we had to drive up a road that went right up the side of a mountain and ended at their house. It was pitch dark, about 1.30 am, when we arrived and I pulled up near the house, set the emergency brake, and my friend and I slept in the car until morning.

Next morning, this little ragamuffin girl in a cotton print dress awakened me, tapping on the window and shouting, 'Mama says fer y'all to come in fer brekfust!' That sounded good to me, and I was as happy as a bird dog on a pigeon farm until I looked out the windshield. All I could see was space! A lot of space, and a forest of trees, stretching as far as the eye could see . . . about 1500 feet below me!

With our hearts in our mouths, my friend and I eased out of the car, onto solid ground, to find that during the darkness of the storm, I had pulled the car to within about a foot of a 1500-foot cliff! Being tired, hung over, and excited and happy to have made it through the storm, we forgot the house sat right against a cliff, halfway up a mountain! Another few inches and I wouldn't be here to write this.

That morning, we had hot fried chicken, fried eggs, fried potatoes, milk gravy, and hot buttered biscuits along with some much needed strong, black coffee. And never again did I park up there in the dark.



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