When I returned to the South in 2017 after several years of living in the Pacific Northwest, the thing I was most excited about was sweet tea.
In the movie, “Steel Magnolias,” sweet tea is referred to as the “house wine of the South.” Never were truer words spoken.
Sweet tea reminds me of family cookouts. It brings back fond memories of fish Fridays with fried flounder, French fries, hush puppies and slaw. It takes me back to spending time with my great-grandmother, who affectionately called me “Grandma.”
Sweet tea is refreshing on a hot summer day. And when done properly, it’s just sweet enough to pour over a full cup of ice without watering down the flavor.
Perhaps the joy I have about it has less to do with taste and more to do with the memories that come flooding back when I take a sip of this Southern staple.
The exploration of Southern favorites like sweet tea is one of the reasons I’m excited for our new project, Macon Food Story.
What is Macon Food Story?
It’s a joint project among Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, The Telegraph, Georgia Public Broadcasting Macon and 13WMAZ. From now until April 2019, we’re exploring food habits of the South. We will attempt to answer the question: what does the food we eat say about the life we live?
You can expect to read, see and hear reports on the history and culture of Southern food. You can expect stories focused on food access and health. We will host events and create spaces to dig deeper into topics that warrant more discussion.
How can you participate? Share your food story. If you had to describe your family traditions through a recipe, what would it be and why? Join our Facebook group, Macon Food Story, where you can share your recipes, and we’ll keep the conversation going about many of the topics you’ll read, hear and see. You can also start new topics and share ideas related to food.
We’ll officially launch the project Sept. 12 when a Macon Food Story special will air at 5:30 p.m. on 13WMAZ. The special will introduce you to the project and the stories we’ve already produced.
Finally, join us for “A Taste of Southern Food History” with culinary historian, Michael W. Twitty from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 14 at Hutchings College and Career Academy. Space is limited to first come, first serve. Though not required, please bring a canned food donation.