Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cucumber sandwiches and mint juleps: The joys of entertaining Southern

Being Southern isn’t just a geographic location. It is a culture with its own language, habits, rules, and interaction with other humans. In regards to that interaction, we love to gather in large groups, eat ourselves silly, exchange old stories, and bask in our Southern-ness.

Like most Southern women, I love to entertain. I guess I spent too much time throwing tea parties as a child, but nothing is more wonderful than setting a beautiful table, organizing a gourmet menu, and mingling through rooms of guests.

My parents have always entertained – Daddy’s business acquaintances, family, the pastor. I attended my first dinner party before I was five-years-old. My parents wanted to teach us how to behave in social situations, and of course, we had a learning curve.

Momma and Daddy:

As a toddler, my sister, Stephanie, pulled her potty chair into the dining room for her “way to go’s.” This was just as the main course was being served.

At around three-years-old, my oldest sister, Deana, who learned to talk in the womb, smacked the pastor for not acknowledging her when she greeted him. “Hi,” she said. He continued with his adult conversation. “I said ‘hi,’” she insisted. He ignored her. “I said ‘hi,’” she shouted as she hauled off and popped him.

As for me, my parents could not make me understand that I had to keep my dress on – I would strip down and streak through the house. They also had the problem of me pulling my skirt up over my head and showing off all my business during children’s church, but that is another story.
Regardless, I love to entertain. Case in point, the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby was held Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, but the traditions and Southern charm of the Derby could be felt all the way to Winona.

The first annual Ferguson-Mosley-Reed-Sexton Kentucky Derby party (my co-hosts – Keith, Keetha, and Jeffrey) was held at my home on Saturday evening, and trust me (after hours of cleaning silver), we did not haphazardly throw some chips in a bowl and watch the race on television. We hoped to bring Churchill Downs to the heart of Winona, and I personally think we were pretty successful in our goal.

My Co-Hosts, Keetha and Jeffery:
And my sweetie, Keith, and me:
The menu: Cucumber sandwiches, Miss Annie Mae Wilson’s famous cheese straws, Derby tarts, pork loin on rolls with horse-get it?-radish sauce, strawberry trifle, white glove soufflé, baked brie with honey and apples, and strawberries and cream.

Yes, the food was fantastic, but the guests were even more wonderful in their hats and spring wardrobes. We even had a gentleman don seersucker pants and a linen shirt (Daddy said he reminded him of Jody Varner in Long Hot Summer with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.)
And the hats! I wish people wore hats these days! The winner of our hat contest went to Winona’s Jane Downard who sported a Victorian veiled number with plumed feathers and a Minnie Pearl price tag. Lydia Chassaniol came in second for the most creative hat featuring a foam bird and other handmade adornments. Nell Middleton was definitely wearing the prettiest hat with its hydrangeas.
The hats:

All I can say is I am giddy with anticipation for next year’s get-together.


Keetha said...

Can't wait, either!

AngelMc said...

oh my deeyah (southern for dear) i had a wonderful time. thank you so much for inviting us. i can't quit thinking of those cheese straws. shurleah (southern for surely) we want have to wait till next year for some more of them?

Dana said...

Your hat totally ROCKS!!

Your going to call me all sorts of Yankee insults (even though I'm Canadian) but what the heck is a mint julep?? I've heard of them, of course, but I haven't the foggiest notion (said with stuffy British accent) what it could possibly be. It sounds like a floral centerpiece, don't ask me why. Is it a beverage?

I would die for a proper cucumber sandwich! Well, not literally. But I've always read about the British tradition and never actually partaken!

Invite me to your next shin-dig!! ;)

Amanda said...

A mint julip is a fancy way of saying a big cut of bourbon with a little sugar added and a spring of mint to make it pretty.

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