Southern redneck ethnic food aisle

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I was out of town the other day and stopped in at one of the major food supermarkets in our region of the country.

This supermarket had a bakery, and I wanted to get a sweet roll for the road.

When I was growing up a sweet roll was washed down by a co-cola, which doesn’t mean the same as Coca-Cola. A co-cola can be any kind of carbonated soda.

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In the old days, sweet rolls came in two flavors. It was either a honey bun or a cinnamon roll. As I progressed down the road of sophistication, I learned to love what is known as a cheese Danish. For what it’s worth, I still haven’t progressed too far down that road of sophistication.

Which brings me to my subject for today. As I was walking around that big store, I noticed what they called their ethnic foods section. Most every grocery store I know today has one of those sections.

In our area of the country it’s that place in the store where one might find the taco shells and Hispanic food stuff with brand names like Goya. Or there might be a selection of soy sauce and oriental noodle dinners. Again, there might be some Jewish food items like Matza crackers.

Although most stores have the ethnic foods aisle, they’re not nearly as extensive in our part of the country as they are in, say, a California or New York where the population is much more diverse.

It got me to thinking. What if I were stuck in one of those foreign countries like California or New York and got to hankering for some of the ethnic foods of my origin. What kind of ethnic food aisle would they have for the southern redneck?

Naturally, there would be a selection of moon pies along side a six pack of RC colas. Also packs of peanuts that one might drop into the co-colas. Boxes of grits and packages of corn meal, biscuit mixes, and fried chicken and fish batters would be a part of the aisle’s offerings.

Since the store wouldn’t have any peas and greens in their produce section, I would expect to find plenty of canned foods like black-eyed peas, creamed corn and collard greens. I understand that those taste better fresh but when one is in a foreign country, anything will do in a pinch.

I’m still looking for some meat, though. A manager of the store comes over and recognizes the far-off look in my eyes and asks, “Are you finding everything you need?”

“Where are the vienna sausages?”

The manager looks perplexed and asks, “The what?”

“The vienna sausages.”

He says, “Our meat department is in the back of the store. You might be able to find your sausage there.”

I explain to the manager that vienna sausages aren’t sold in the meat department. They come in little, bitty cans.

He wants to know how to spell them. I slowly spell Vienna. V-I-E-N-N-A, as in Vye-enn-a, with the accent on the middle syllable!

I think I have gotten through to him.

“Oh, you mean Vee-enna, as in the Austrian city in Europe. I think you are mispronouncing the name.”

My voice begins to sound like Jerry Clower on steroids.

“No, you may know of a Vee-nna in Austria, but I am talking about Vye-enna in Dooly County Georgia. It’s the home of the Big Pig Jig, one of the world’s best barbecue contests, which brings me to another question. I guess you can’t tell me where the vienna sausages are, so how about a little help with my down home southern barbecue.”

The manager hears a word, barbecue, that he thinks he knows something about, so he says, “Okay, maybe I can help you with that. We have charcoal and starter and paper plates on aisle 10 and plenty of great meats in the back of the store.”

“Good,” I say. “Where might I find the Butt Rub?”

“Beg your pardon?” the manager asks aghast at the question.

“The Butt Rub, Bad Byron’s Butt Rub,” I say again. “Where is the Butt Rub for the barbecue? I don’t have time to marinade the meat so I just think I will lather a little Butt Rub all over it.”

The manager is beginning to swoon, but comes back with his inane comment.

“Our pharmacy department is up front and all kinds of ointments for a variety of body surfaces may be found there. Perhaps the rub you are looking for is in that department.”

“Well I never heard of Bad Byron’s Butt Rub being in the pharmacy department, but if that’s where it is I guess I’ll head that way. Thanks for your help.”

“Before you go,” the supermarket manager says, “just what does Butt Rub and barbecue have in common?”

“Oh, you must try it,” I replied. “Butt Rub makes everything taste better.”

As I was leaving, I saw the manager call one of his assistants over and was pointing up to the ethnic foods sign. I heard him say to his colleague.

“We need to expand this aisle. Put more Hispanic, Oriental, Indian and European items in, but take out all of the southern redneck foods. They do some weird things down in that country and we don’t need to be encouraging them.”

Meanwhile, I never did find the Bad Byron’s Butt Rub in the pharmacy section and decided not to bother that nice manager anymore. I figured he’d learned enough about southern cuisine for one day.