A few weeks ago I was honored to present a lecture at the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home. My title, "Grandma's Kitchen: The Origins of Southern Cuisine," drew on historic fact and anecdotal tales from my childhood.
I grew up on dairy farm in the South, and was blessed to have had two previous generations cooking for me as a child.
The memories of all that home-grown, homemade Southern cooking are indelibly etched in my head.
But so are the rare encounters with prepared foods. Entrance stage right: The Moon Pie.
Moon Pies were one of the few pre-packaged foods we had in our home on a daily basis, serving as a sweet lunch box treat to the working men of the household.
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to tour Chattanooga Baking Co., the only source of Moon Pies in North America. Today, a mostly robotic assembly line churns out roughly one million Moon Pies a day - single-deckers, double-deckers, minis.
The crispy graham cookie sandwiched with marshmallow fluff and enrobed in a variety of flavors is as timeless a snack today as it was when founded just after the the turn of the 20th Century.
And in this Moon Pie futureworld, the snack has been taken to higher heights.
The Distillery, most frequently deferred to as the city's first and still foremost craft beer bar, offers a Moon Pie on its dessert menu.
This one's deep-fried.
Batter a chocolate double-decker, flash fry it until hot and gooey, then add an ice cream topping, and you've got a uniquely Southern dessert that's rich enough to share, but delicious enough to eat by yourself.
This Athens-based franchise is open now at the corner of Whitaker and Bryan streets, on the backside of the News Place project.
Your Pie offers wood-fired pizza and baked salad bowls. Pizzas follow a Subway kind of process: You pick your dough, choose your sauce, choose your toppings and about 10 minutes later - poof, you've got a pizza.
Quick, casual and fresh - what a welcome treat for downtowners full to the gills with sub sandwiches and burgers.
Tubby's on River Street
Ansley Williams, principle of Tubby's parent company Live Oak Restaurants, confirmed that Tubby's on River Street will close for several weeks beginning in mid-December for a total makeover.
Williams says that when the restaurant reopens, it will be something, "everyone can be proud of." Live Oak's Southside Fiddler's Crab House shows that the company can put together a good-looking restaurant when they want to; as does the long gone Cobblestone Conch House.
Count on a revised menu at reopening, one that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Lovin' Spoon, a self-serve, pick-your-own-topping yogurt shop, has opened on Savannah Centre, next to Toys R Us.
The shop offers 12 ever-changing flavors of yogurt, including low fat, non fat, no sugar added and non-dairy options. There are more than 40 toppings to choose from.
The locally owned shop will gain another location next month in Pooler.
Opening events include a portion of sales to The Greenbriar Children's Center.
Why does everything look like a Moon Pie?