To call Laurance Daltroff Triplette’s Gimme Some Sugar, Darlin’ a Southern cookbook doesn’t quite cut it. There are recipes, to be sure — nearly 800(!), in fact, covering all the essentials and then some, from pralines to pumpkin dressing. But no mistaking it: Gimme Some Sugar, Darlin’ serves, too, as a love letter to Triplette’s family and to the region and it’s also a hilarious primer to living in the South.
Triplette, who was born in Memphis, lived in Charlotte, and moved to Oxford a few years back, took some time to answer questions for Hungry Memphis.
There are probably a million people out there who have shoeboxes and notebooks full of family recipes they’ve been planning to compile in a book. You actually did it. What makes you so special?
Aside from the fact that I’m a Southern diva, obsessively compulsive about keeping family together, connecting the past to the present, and keeping files of everything in alphabetical, color-coded order? My primary mandate as an ADD adult has been to finish what I start. It only took me about five years to finish this project. That’s AFTER letting the files age in a huge box for years beforehand. As I always say, just give me time and focus, and we’re golden.
Beyond the recipes, Gimme Some Sugar includes “The Secret Lexicon of Southerness” and “One Old Bride’s Guide to Cooking Southern” What’s the origin of these sections?
When we moved to Oxford from Charlotte, we built a house. Hunting season and the iron man just about drove me into the gin bottle. I found myself describing the overt craziness of my new life to friends back in North Carolina — mostly during calls from the Walmart parking lot. I wanted to reflect all of this in the new cookbook, from an aging, bossy voyeur’s point of view. It was not a stretch.
The “guide” component stemmed from the need to provide culinary CliffsNotes for my children, who came along when my friends were starting to have grandchildren! The Lexicon grew out of my love of the quirky people across the South, encountered during many years of driving all over the region. My children still kid me for what they used to roll their eyes and call “Mom’s little adventures” OFF the interstate.
But come on. Scalawag? Who ever says that in earnest any more?
Scalawag. Scalawag. Scalawag. It’s a spectacularly quirky and musical word that speaks to my inner poet. It reflects the cultured South’s love of the English language. And Honey, we Southerners are NOTHING without our deft turns of phrasing.
What Southern dish took you the longest to master?
Biscuits. So simple, eh? I’m too intense, and you just have to relax and sort of slap ‘em out without working the dough to death. Of course, it helps to have really high quality Southern flour made from winter red wheat. And buttermilk. And lard … or Crisco in a pinch.
What’s the best tool, cooking or otherwise, every Southerner should have?
I’m really torn over this one. Assuming one has measuring tools, I could not function without a really sharp knife or a sieve. The sieve is useful for many things, from sifting flour and rinsing raspberries, to preventing frying-pan splatter, or cleaning out the fountain and the fish tank. The knife, of course, is for slicing, dicing, and cutting up stuff. And yes, I have been known to ruin a boning knife cutting up cardboard when packing art. And then there’s the threat factor of being a woman holding a knife. So handy. It used to give me little chills to watch my darling, sweet mother-in-law sharpen her carving knife on the concrete steps out back.
Gimme Some Sugar, Darlin’ is $28.95 and available at the Booksellers at Laurelwood and the Cotton Museum.
*Memphis Flyer, December 15, 2011, Hungry Memphis archives article