In the vast repertoire of Southern cooking one comes across many different regionally specific dishes; gumbo in Louisiana, Low Country boils in the Carolina's to name just a couple. There is one however that I've seen all over the South, the meal known as Meat and Three. Meat and Three is exactly what it sounds like, you chose a meat dish from what is usually 3-6 options and 3 side dishes from up to twelve different choices. The meat offerings can include meatloaf, roasted chicken, fried chicken (a perennial favorite), chicken and dumplings, fried catfish, Salisbury steak, you get the idea. Then comes the parade of sides. Everything from fried green tomatoes to macaroni and cheese and all points in between.
|Cornbread Dressing with Turkey and Fried Chicken|
|A few sides: Mashed Potatoes, Sweet corn in butter sauce and Fried Green Tomatoes|
The meats we had to chose from were meatloaf, roasted chicken, fried chicken and Salisbury steaks. In order to be thorough I tasted as many of the items on offer as was polite and humanly possible. Let's just say my research was extensive. The pictures below really don't do the food justice. But I did want you to get an idea of what we had.
|Apple Salad, Biscuits, Corn, Roasted Chicken & carrots, Green beans & potatoes, Peas and Beets & Greens|
|Homemade Peach Cobbler and Coconut Cake with Whipped Cream|
Every item I tried tasted exactly like I expected it to. The things I remember from my own youth tasted just like I remembered. Needless to say this will not be part of our weekly dining rotation. Not for any reason other than waistlines just couldn't handle it. (Not unless I gave up my desk job for something a lot more outdoorsy. There's just not enough gym time in the world to eat like this on a regular basis.)
That sadly is one of the reasons that these types of places are disappearing from the Southern landscape. Southern cooking, fairly or unfairly, is often thought to be unhealthy. There's no denying that eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes everyday would be unhealthy but, that said, I don't ever want to live in a world where the only option for these foods is from a fast food restaurant.
I'm hopeful that the many happy families, after church folks and older diners enjoying a taste of their youth can keep these places going. I for one will be doing my part even if it's only once a month or so. Traditions like the meat and three should be preserved. Being healthy is important but carrying on a tradition also has a place in our lives as well.