So Dammit Boy and I were at our favorite meat ‘n three today when it suddenly occurred to him that he’s leaving a few essential things behind when he moves to California. For one, meat ‘n threes.

“Do they have meat ‘n threes out there?” he asked, slightly terrified.

No, son, they do not.

Noah is moving to Monterey Bay, California, to go to graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. It is universally acknowledged as simply the finest language school  in the world. Professional graduate degrees for global action. That’s what they’re selling and Noah is buying – in Russian. A life of purpose is the purpose of life. That’s my boy.


But he won’t see this out there in kale smoothie land. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, and turnip greens from Bishop’s.

It’s slowly dawning on him that he’s got a lot to go to in California but a lot to leave behind. Like:

  • Greens. Noah asked me if they had collard and turnip greens in California. I don’t actually know. I understand you could grow them out there but I don’t know if anyone does.
  • Cornmeal for cornbread. I know this from personal experience living in Reno. The cornmeal they have out west is for tortillas.
  • Fried chicken livers. Noah asked me what those people do with all their chicken livers. Make pate, I suppose. There is no soul food in California because California has no soul. Oops. Sorry.
  • Sausage balls. Nobody knows anything about sausage balls in California. How ignorant can they be? Bulk sausage and Bisquick are not “things” out there. They are “link” people if they eat sausage at all.
  • And here’s the big one — Duke’s mayonnaise. There is not a single jar of Duke’s mayo in any grocery store in California.

So this, of course, is my lifeline to my soon-to-be globe trotting son. I will burn up the U.S. Postal service with care packages.

Sure, there are things out there that he will love — Korean barbecue, real ramen, truly authentic Mexican, fantastic seafood. But no fried catfish. I forgot to add that to the list. How does a civilized society exist without fried catfish? And hush puppies. That’s another one.

And here’s what Noah already knows. You can take the boy out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the boy.

Represent, Noah. Represent.


  1. Renee
    November 16, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Haha! Tell him that there’s plenty of good Southern food to be found in Northern California, though he just may have to drive a bit further. All he has to do start googling, or ask some Black folks. We can always direct anyone towards the best soul food.

    • Catherine Mayhew
      Catherine MayhewReply
      November 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Thank goodness! You’ve put a mother’s heart at ease.

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