I grew up in North Florida — Pensacola area.

There are times when that is a handy thing to be able to say.  

Like when you are dressed for the nice downtown restaurant where your new friends took you to dinner, but they bring you out to their favorite dive bar afterward.  Or on hunting weekends.  Or in the hardware store of the small Texas town where you just moved and they ask if you are one of the New Yorkers now living on the guest ranch up the road.  

In other words, just about anytime you can read “damn yankee” in someone’s eyes.

And it’s true, I did grow up in that part of Florida often referred to as L.A., that standing for Lower Alabama.  But so is the New Yorker part — during seven exciting years in the city, I could often be heard saying I would never leave.  I did leave, and now I’ve been hanging my hat in Texas for almost as long.  

All told, I have spent roughly half my life south of the Mason-Dixon line, so I can conjure up some Southern credibility, but I come from good, true Mid-Western stock. My childhood was just about evenly divided geographically between the formative years spent in northern Minnesota,  and the coming of age years on the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida.  From there, I have lived back in the Midwest, in the Pacific Northwest, New York City as mentioned, and even a couple of years overseas.

I have sacrificed a certain sense of place in my life in exchange for an amazing variety of experiences. Yet, I often find a feeling of belonging somewhere through food, and more and more it has been slow simmered pots of greens, biscuits and gravy, shimmery morning grits and of course beautiful barbecue that has me feeling at home.

That and the joyful challenges of raising a one year old Native Texan.


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