I need to make a confession. I need to come clean and tell you something about myself that you may not know. Let me preface my confession by saying I’m not necessarily proud of what I’m about to tell you. I’m a little embarrassed about it, and I’m hoping you won’t think less of me once you’ve found out. Oh, my goodness! No, it’s nothing like that. What are you thinking? Here it is: I don’t like cornbread. There, I said it. As Gomer Pyle once said to Barney, “I said it, and I ain’t taking it back.” I don’t know about you, but I feel better. Confession really is good for the soul. While I’m at it, I might as well get it all out. I don’t like okra either. I don’t care if you fry it, pickle it, bake it, or boil it and serve it slimy, I don’t like it in any shape, form, or fashion. I’d rather eat cornbread. Trying to eat boiled okra is like trying to chew a raw oyster...you can’t. Oh, did you add raw oysters to my list?
Now, before you start asking questions or making unkind accusations about me, just for the record, yes, I most definitely am southern. I was born in Fort Payne, Alabama and grew up on Sand Mountain. That’s more southern than Miami, Florida. I’ve lived in Georgia, Mississippi (a stone’s throw from Tennessee), and Louisiana, but never outside the southeast. I even have a subscription to Southern Living magazine. As long as Rick Bragg is in there each month, it will be in my mailbox each month. I am southern to the bone, but to add insult to injury, I kind of do like northern-cornbread. Yes, I know they put sugar, or molasses, in theirs and it tastes more like cake than cornbread, but I love cake.
Maybe this will make you feel better about me...I do love biscuits. When the restaurant server asks “Biscuits or cornbread,” I always answer, without hesitation, “Biscuits.” When I was growing up, Mama made biscuits almost every morning. She didn’t take them out of a bag in the freezer or whop them on the counter, but she made them from scratch. I loved Mama’s biscuits, but I’ve loved my Aunt Lula’s more. Aunt Lula lived over in Georgia. She made cathead biscuits. As a boy, one of those rascals was all I could eat, but I always wished I could eat another one. I mentioned cathead biscuits once when I was doing a program up in Cadillac, Michigan. This little lady in the crowd turned up her nose and said “Ugh!” I knew what she must have been thinking, so I had to enlighten her. I said, “Ma’am, we call them that because they are about the size of a cat’s head. They are made from flour and milk.”
I don’t want to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. I will eat cornbread under certain conditions, or under certain other things. If it is under a pile of pinto beans, with lots of juice, or a gob of greens swimming in pot liquor (pronounced pot likker), bring it on. I can handle hushpuppies and I love cornbread-dressing, so you see, I’m not totally opposed to cornbread. Would you pass the biscuits, please?
When Jesus was in the wilderness and hungry, he quoted Deuteronomy and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Jesus obviously ate bread (although I don’t think they had cornbread or biscuits back then). Jesus knew that bread is a staple of life, and we should know that He is too. He said of himself, “I am the bread of life.”
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.