I have moved just far enough North for the people in this area to refer to me as 'the southern girl'. They look to me to explain grits and butter beans (two things that don't come easy up here). We stopped at a restaurant near Lincoln's birth place where I ate a plate of sides, two of those being butter beans. It was heaven. I've been to a couple of places here that make an attempt at making grits. One place served up a bowl a grits with a slice of American cheese slapped on top. They called them cheesy grits. Sweet tea is something I am also expected to know a lot about, even though I was weened off of the tooth rotting sugar tea in my teenage years.
The thing is, I've never considered myself to be southern. Yes, I was raised by parents who are southern. They were both born and raised in the middle of Mississippi as were both of their parents and those before them. Honestly, I don't know how far back the Graham and McCool line goes in that area. I could very possibly be unfortunately eligible to be a Daughter of the Confederacy for all I know. I would be very interested to know if we are any relation to the Reverend Sylvester Graham, the inventor of the Graham Cracker. Dad used to hold up a Graham cracker and ask "What is this?" and then after you said "it's a Graham Cracker!", he'd say "No! It's MY cracker!" Then Dad would laugh and laugh like he'd just told the funniest joke. He was the King of Dad Jokes. I was raised by people who were very southern, ate molasses on their biscuits and hamhock in their collard greens.
This only makes me southern by proxy. I've never considered Oklahoma to be part of The South and I think this is a universal way of thinking across the whole state. Oklahoma is The West. The Frontier. The land of Indians and Cowboys. We are a hardy bunch, built to withstand tornadoes and dust bowls. Yet we can stop and ponder at a hawk making lazy circles in the sky (wink wink). Every single one of us who were raised in Oklahoma have at one time re-enacted the Land Run and performed the musical, Oklahoma. Friday nights are for high school football and Saturday nights are for rodeos. We've eaten loads of Indian tacos and Frito Chili Pie. Ice cream comes from Braums (though I think they're being boycotted right now for wanting to tear down the HiLo, which they should not be tearing down). Most importantly, we know that the best, most sweetest watermelons come from southern Oklahoma.
I say this because I just ate the blandest watermelon, the third one I've purchased this year. Someone please mail me an Oklahoma watermelon.