Anyone who has ever been to Northern Virginia (where I grew up) can attest to the fact that it is an entity on its own, completely unrelated to the rest of the state. While the whole of Virginia is considered to be the South, Northern Virginia is most certainly not. It is as Northern, Yankee, metropolitan, and progressive as a suburban area could ever be. It is not the South, dammit. It’s different.
Please consider the evidence - there is no Southern food in Northern Virginia. None at all. There is New Mexican, Peruvian, French, French, French, and Italian, but no traditional Southern food. And yet, I somehow managed to fall in love with cornbread, greens, hushpuppies… I love it all.
There is no marked Southern accent, certainly not one as defined as you would hear in Central or Southern VA. And yet, I use “y’all” in every day speech. My friends from home make merciless fun of me for it, but I still say it.
Perhaps Virginia seeped its way into me. Stealthily, it leaked through the Silicon Valley that is Northern VA, dripped through the massive malls with parking lots that look like Benz dealerships. Somehow, there is a little bit of the South in me.
Northern Virginia ain’t got nothin' on North Carolina (for the uninitiated, that’s pronounced Noth Caralahynah) when it comes to being the South. I had the pleasure of visiting NC for the second time this year, this time for a science blogging conference. Oh, what’s that? You didn’t know I was a giant dork? Sorry, but that’s just how it is.
There is some seriously good Southern food to be had in NC, along with people with a completely awesome Southern drawl that I could listen to all day. After the conference, at which we were served excellent pulled pork from Bullock’s and Locopops (if you have never had a Locopop, I feel very sorry for you. Check them out the NPR podcast about Locopops) my new blogger friend Aaron and I went in search of good Southern food. And we found it, at Crook’s Corner.
Nothing says Southern food like a pig up on a pole. Inside though, Crook's Corner was way more arty and urban than I predicted from the wall of hubcaps outside.
I must have stared at that menu for a good twenty minutes before deciding on shrimp and grits. I think I made the right decision. Huge shrimp, bacon, mushrooms and scallions were piled on top of cheesy, creamy grits. The grits were just stupid good. This may be because they were about 60% butter and cheese, 40% creamy white corn. Not a bad ratio.
There were also giant cheddar jalapeno hushpuppies that were just eh (innocuous cornbread more than hushpuppy) and a giant biscuit, as big as my head.
I also can’t forget to mention the infinitely polite server who looked like he had a mother of a hangover, and did I mention the giant pig on a pole? It was awesome.
There may be a bit of the Southern belle in me yet. Just don't expect me to bat my eyelashes. Or wear pastels. Or giggle. And really, I am not that friendly. So ok, maybe it's just the Southern y'all and the food that I love. I am ok with that.