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My South – Wakulla Springs

Every year in late February or early March, Sam and I join my parents on St. George Island, Florida for at least a week. This is not the Florida of spring break revelry; there is no Miami glitz, no Palm Beach cash, just a beautiful island where the beaches are unspoiled and often empty, the sandpipers run, the cormorants fish, and dolphins can be seen swimming quite close to shore right around dinner time. (I am assuming for purposes of this entry that dolphins, like the rest of us, dine at around 6:00 or 6:30).

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There is, blessedly, nothing to do other than walk the beach and eat fresh seafood, and (for a really big time) drive across two bridges to the town of Apalachicola where there are some good restaurants, a delightful store that sells knitting paraphernalia and carefully selected books, and a harbor full of shrimp and oyster boats.

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To get to St. George, Sam and I fly into the Tallahassee airport, and this trip we were fortunate enough to arrive around dinner time, justifying a stop at The Wakulla Springs Lodge. Built in 1937, the Lodge has a simple, un-fussy atmosphere that is a refreshing contrast to the stressful, plastic, corporate and commercial harshness of a day spent in airports and on airplanes. There is also the food served in the Lodge’s dining room, which is simple, fresh, Southern and delightful.

My Wakulla Springs Lodge experience began as I stood outside in the sun (in short supply in Michigan at this time of year) calling my husband to let him know we had arrived safely. As I leaned against the side of the building, an absolutely adorable young man with slicked back black hair that would do Elvis proud walked by me with his waiter apron swung over his shoulder. He winked at my 45-year-old self and said “how y’all doing?” This was a good sign.

Inside, I discovered that Elvis was my waiter, and imposed upon him immediately for sweet tea, which doesn’t much exist in my part of the world. I then had some real biscuits, and ordered fried shrimp which came with hush puppies, a perfectly baked potato, and (be still my heart) a monkey dish of fried, green tomatoes. Those Southern types bread things like nobody’s business, and my shrimp were fresh, with crisp, light breading and the tomatoes were a sort of mystical combination of tart and juicy inside and crisp and dry outside.

Honestly, I don’t even really like fried green tomatoes, but the two little slices of tomato in that dish so endeared themselves to me that I felt the presence of hundreds of phantom southern women fluttering around the table asking if I wanted a little more sweet tea or maybe a slice of pecan pie. If I’d stayed for breakfast, I’m certain that some bacon cheese grits would have been on offer. I am resolutely northern, a Yankee born and bred, but when the South opens her arms to me at the end of a long winter, I can’t help falling into her embrace.

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About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

3 responses »

  1. Okay Annie, now you have my mouth watering (literally) for some friend green tomatoes. My adoptive mother was a southerner and I grew up on such fare.

    While I am working on what I hope are my final revisions (please dear God or Universe pray be it so), I am rewarding myself after small increments of productive work with getting to catch up on your Florida vacation.

    Somehow my frozen meal that I just microwaved doesn’t sound as tasty, but let’s face it, it was never that temptingly delicious sounding or looking to begin with 😦 junemoon

    Reply
  2. junemoon, I don’t suppose you have a recipe for fried green tomatoes from your adoptive mom…? I wish you all luck (I’m actually a pray-er, so I’ll pray) that your revisions are FINAL, and I am honored to be considered a reward. When you’re done, you can go out into the worls and eat fresh, delicious food and celebrate.

    Reply
  3. Hi Annie ~ Actually I have tinkered w/my a-mother’s fried green recipe enough over the years that I think of it as my own now. I will warn you in advance though that I have retained the bacon grease part as that is what I fry them in. Although when I am feeling more health conscious, I will fry them in veggie oil. The most important part is to use really good green tomatoes, slice them about 1/2 inch thick or a little less, dredge them in cornmeal that has been seasoned w/coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and then fry them to golden brown on each side in a cast iron skillet w/out messing w/them a lot, only turn them over once. If you want it spicier, I add a touch of cayenne pepper. junemoon PS Thank you for your prayers and good wishes on the dissertation!! I’ll be posting on my blog about the process soon but suffice it to say, that I believe your prayers helped to that end!!

    Reply

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