Drop twenty random Southerners into a room. Within ten minutes, two of them will have found out that through some connection, however nebulous, they’re kin. Within thirty minutes, more relationships will have been uncovered, and people will be realizing that while they may not be blood kin, they know some of the same people. Give it an hour, and everyone in the room feels like family whether they’re related by blood or just common interests.
As a Southerner, I’ve always felt that the Southern focus on family is an important part of our cultural heritage. No matter how far removed the connections may be, we’re all bound to each other and all have commonality to fall back on. We’re never really strangers to each other.
I saw these principles at work this past weekend during the Alabama Adventure events that we attended with the Southern Foodways Alliance. Papa and I have been wanting to be more of a part of the SFA ever since we heard about what they were doing and read the first Cornbread Nation. One thing or another kept getting in the way, and this ended up being our first event.
As the weekend progressed, we felt more and more that this event was like a family reunion. It had all the traditional hallmarks. There were a lot of people who looked familiar, but you had no idea who they were. There was music. There were the characters that stood out from the crowd. There was great conversation with people you don’t run into everyday. And there was some fabulous food.
Squirrelly, Jr., was in good form and made himself right at home. Papa and I were our normal introverted selves, but that was okay with this crowd. We met some great people who we’re looking forward to meeting again. So maybe we were strangers the first little while, but by the end of our last dinner, we weren’t just hanging out with friends. We were with family.