Celebrating America’s birthday and her dining traditions

“I learned early in my years, that soppin’ biscuits was the best way to finish off a meal.” 

Grandma’s Kitchen blog spot

Independence Day is Sunday. In keeping with American tradition, it’s one of the holidays celebrated on the correct date and not morphed into a Monday holiday by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. That is unless it falls on a Sunday like it does this year. Then, for businesses that close in observance, Monday becomes the holiday.

Monday holidays are not always a day off for those who produce local newspapers. In fact, the missed business day often comes with its own unique challenges because readers expect a paper the same day every week regardless of whether Monday is a holiday or not. But that’s a good thing. It’s part of what we do: being there for readers and subscribers when expected. 

Sometimes though, that missed day provides an opportunity for Murphy to get involved. You know him, the one known who menacingly creates problems when least expected. One of the more memorable Murphy Mondays recalled was not a July Fourth. Still, it did involve a great American holiday tradition: eating. 

Our intentions were good in the editorial piece that week when we urged readers to “shop at home.” The holiday rush to press, however, produced one of those problematic typos; not simply a misspelled word but the kind that changes one word into another and offers a whole new meaning to the published piece. So it was that on that memorable Monday holiday we missed a proof, and just like that, we were extolling the virtues of “sopping” local.

Believing there is a hidden opportunity in every perceived problem, we underscored the merits of shopping at home in the very next issue … with one twist. That “sopping” at home is also good and should be practiced at every Southern meal. 

My father, born near the Mississippi River banks just north of Baton Rouge, thought biscuits and gravy were an essential food group. It was his favorite breakfast. And it was my good fortune to inherit his nutritional notions. Not limited to breakfast; however, it’s a good rule for any meal in Southern dining etiquette. When gravy is left after a chicken-fried steak is gone, all it takes is one leftover biscuit or dinner roll to complete a balanced meal.

As difficult as it may be for my close friends to believe, I might hesitate long enough to see if anyone is watching me in a public setting. But at home or while attending a family reunion, if there’s gravy left and at least one biscuit not spoken for, sopping the gravy until both are gone is entirely acceptable.

Grandma’s Kitchen blog spot validates the practice of sopping by establishing guidelines. “If you didn’t save that last big bite of biscuit, then it was okay to pinch off a piece from another ‘good’ biscuit. I do believe that was the only food that you could touch, take off what you wanted and put the rest back. You always knew that someone would use the rest of the biscuit, or it would be eaten as we cleared the table.”

Borrowing from Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything except temptation.” So, whether it’s a Monday holiday or any other day of the week, pass that leftover roll or biscuit, please. 

Whatever your Independence Day menu may include, take time to reflect on this great day, the birthday of our nation. Let’s unite in a pledge to lead America on a path of prosperity and peace. Let’s salute the brave men and women in uniform who are on duty and working to maintain our freedom while we celebrate. And let’s all enjoy a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.

God bless America … and her dining traditions.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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