The Secret Lexicon

includes Triplette’s glossaries on Southern expressions, locations, and personality types, along with essays exploring life in the South — such as Southerners and football, where to find Southern food, Southerners and politics, Southern idols, and Southerners and death.

Barbecue (abbreviated to BBQ):


Noun and verb. Any meat or vegetable seasoned with a spice rub and/or marinated in a concoction of sweet-and-spicy sauce based in vinegar, sugar and peppers. The Southern national dish. Proper barbecue must be roasted until falling apart over a direct, hot, steady heat source such as coals, with hickory or fruitwood added to impart proper smoke flavoring. Grilling is different from barbecuing.

Between 4 and plumb: Four miles from nowhere and plumb outta sight.

Do it up brown: Make it right, like your roux.

Dressing: The tasty, complicated bread, rice or vegetable-based mixture that folks sometimes put into the cavity of dead birds before roasting them, but more often bake as a casserole side dish. Called stuffing in Yankeeland. Also refers to the wetness drizzled over salads.

Hammered: Been hittin’ Papa’s recipe a bit too heavily. (See the Baldwin sisters in The Waltons.)

Jambalaya: The kitchen sink, bayou style, containing whatever crawled out of the Bayou or turned up in the fishing net. Never ever decline an invitation to join a Cajun for homemade jambalaya. Never ever ask what’s in it.

Mean: A stingy amount. Why don’t you ladle up a bit more of that gumbo?

Ricecake: A person with no taste.

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