If they set up truck stands on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées selling turnip greens, corn bread, and buttermilk, half the restaurants in Paris would be out of business in a month. The French have probably never tasted anything that good. It’s the state meal of Arkansas and a spiritual adventure in the Delta.
My wife even likes the turnips that come with them.
Now you can cook them in a number of ways. My mama always said they were best “bawled.” That’s a tradition I follow religiously although there is a “school of streaming.” Best not follow this in the Delta though. Folks here don’t cotton to big city ideas.
Some latitude in the enjoyment of greens is allowed. One is free to customize the pepper sauce to taste or simply season with vinegar. Who says Southerners aren’t flexible?
One remarkable fact about turnip greens is that they represent the only thing on earth I like to eat or drink that a physician ever said was good for me. It is, in fact, considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. From Vitamin K to protein, a serving of turnip greens has it all.
One unfortunate note: that same physician did, however, caution against seasoning the greens with meat fat. But, health considerations only go so far.
Preparing greens does involve a great deal of washing and rinsing. More so if one is of the female persuasion. Males, in typical fashion, tend to regard intrusive insects and other items as a protein source in themselves and tend not to go overboard with the washing thing. Don’t tell anyone, though.
This food does include catalyst requirements of sorts. A meal of greens cannot be legally listed on the Delta Register of Heavenly Treats unless accompanied by cornbread and buttermilk. Numerous attempts have been made by apostates to sneak alternatives in but a true Southerner can spot sin and imitation for miles.
As I speak, thousands of the succulent dears are poking their heads into the Wattensaw sun. Soon, … well soon I’ll be like the old boy in the story who claimed that he ate so many turnip greens growing up his mama had to tie coal-oil rags around his legs to keep away the cutworms.
“St. Peter said them Arkansas girls are mighty hard to beat
They always look so pretty and they always look so neat
The reason for their beauty Is plainly to be seen
For the precious little darlins are all raised on turnip greens.
Turnip greens, turnip greens
Them good ole turnip greens
Cornbread an' buttermilk
An' good ole turnip greens.”
- From an old folk song modified and sung by the late George Fisher, editorial cartoonist and Son of the Delta.