Here in the Deep South, parsley grows best in our mild winters. Throughout the cool season, parsley gives the garden a vibrant green signature and provides color and freshness to winter soups and meats. As the days lengthen and the weather warms, parsley taken on a radiant lushness, but when daytime temperatures climb into the 70s, the plants bolt. I usually let most of my parsley come into bloom, since it’s very pretty, resembling Queen Anne’s lace, which is a cousin in the Umbelliferae family, along with angelica, dill, and carrots, among many others. Parsley is also a favorite food for caterpillars, monarchs foremost.

Parsley rarely constitutes the main ingredient of any dish; it’s most often used as an herb, and as such has the ability to help meld flavors in soups and stews, particularly when dried. Used fresh, parsley brings a citrusy snap to salads, cold soups, and condiments. It’s of course superfluous to mention that parsley makes a perfect garnish for almost any dish because it’s a natural breath freshener.

The two parsley dishes I’m most familiar with are unsurprisingly similar, but have different functions. One is tabbouleh, a distinct and iconic Lebanese salad, the other is chimichurri, a South American sauce—most say Argentinian, but dissenters claim it originated in Uruguay—primarily served cold as an accompaniment for grilled meats, but I find it a wonderful for cooking, good with chicken, better with fish. This recipe is very, very basic; many people use far less (or much more) garlic, some would never add tomatoes, and others think the parsley should be coarsely chopped. Me, I think that the parsley should be very, very well chopped, that finely-diced tomatoes are essential, and that garlic should be pronounced.

Mix 1 bunch (about 2 cups) chopped fresh parsley with a couple of sprigs (@ 2 tablespoons) chopped fresh oregano, 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced, with ½ cup olive oil, and 1 small tomato (preferably a ripe Roma) drained and finely diced. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Refrigerate in a sealed container for at least overnight before using. The flavor improves with time, but doesn’t keep for more than a week.



Chicken Fried Steak

The dreadful reality behind chicken fried steak is that it’s best deep-fried after soaking in buttermilk, dipped in an egg wash made with the leftover milk, breaded in a seasoned mix of flour and corn starch, then stored in a warm oven before serving. All else is fantasy.


Buildings of Mississippi: A Review

Books about Mississippi architecture tend to focus on poverty-stricken African-American communities or the antebellum and Victorian-era mansions of the state’s white elite. Buildings of Mississippi finally puts them side-by-side, as they actually have been for centuries.

“Our goal from the start was to integrate—and I use that word purposely—black and white landscapes,” said co-author Jennifer Baughn. “This book helps illustrate how the two races did interact in some ways, and in other ways were separated.”

Nine years in the making, Buildings of Mississippi is the 26th volume of the Buildings of the United States (BUS) series commissioned by the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). This series documents state-by-state the full range of structures that are deemed of historical or architectural interest by experts in the field. Jennifer V. O. Baughn is Chief Architectural Historian at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the author of numerous articles on the state’s historic buildings. The late Michael W. Fazio was Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Mississippi State University and coauthor of Buildings across Time: An Introduction to World Architecture. Mary Warren Miller is Executive Director Emeritus of the Historic Natchez Foundation and coauthor of The Great Houses of Natchez.

Illustrated with photographs and maps, and newly redesigned in a more user-friendly format, readers of Buildings of Mississippi will come to know the history of 557 sites, illustrated by 249 photographs (all but 33 taken by Baughn and Fazio) and 29 maps. Along with stately plantation houses (and their housings for slaves), the volume surveys a range of other locations such as Native American mounds and villages, 20th-century enclaves built for sawmill workers, neighborhoods that bolstered black Mississippians during segregation, and the vernacular streetscapes of small towns as well as modern architecture in Greenville, Meridian, Jackson, and Biloxi.

The buildings are grouped into twelve regions that move roughly from the southwest corner of the state to the north, the east, the center, and then south to the Gulf Coast. Buildings of Mississippi includes such wide-ranging places as Longwood and Wister Gardens, Poor Monkeys, Club Ebony, and Dockery Farms in the Delta, the Coca Cola Company in McComb, Ginntown Rosenwald School near Tylertown, Holy Child Jesus Catholic Church in Canton, Shiloh Methodist Campground and Piney Woods School in Rankin County, the fabulous St. Michaels Catholic Church (round with a clam shell roof) in Biloxi, and the oldest house in the Mississippi Valley, “Old Spanish Fort”/de la Pointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula.

Baughn said that the books in the series used to be hardback, and were more like reference works. That seemed puzzling to her, since reference books on such a specialized subject have primarily professional appeal. The new field guide format is a recent innovation, and Baughn considers it a more natural option, more appealing to a wider readership, people who might put the book in a car or backpack for a trip. Buildings of Mississippi is also the first book in the series to be all color.

“The criteria for inclusion were determined both by the SAH and our own knowledge and research,” Baughn said. “We generally focused on buildings that were on the National Register, or in the case of buildings from the 1960s through the present, we tried to identify those that were important for historical events or had won architectural awards. And once we started writing, as Michael Fazio said, the building had to have ‘a hook, a story’ that would make it an interesting entry for the reader.”

The buildings must still be standing, so there are no non-existent buildings included. They also must be accessible from a public right-of way or open to the public. “Unfortunately,” Baughn said, “that criteria excluded many rural houses that can’t be seen from a public right-of-way and aren’t public houses.”

“The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), considers this to have an international audience. Well, I don’t know international audiences,” Baughn said. “My audience is the average Mississippian who enjoys history and historic buildings, and who likes going out in the state, driving around their town, small or large. I thought if these people were happy with the work, then international visitors would be happy, too.”

Buildings of Mississippi is an important work that brings the research on our state’s historic architecture up-to-date. The scholarship supporting the text is impeccable. The format is accessible to armchair historians and weekend travelers as well as tourists, and the illustrations—particularly the photographs—are lavish and outstanding. This book belongs in the hands of all Mississippians intrigued with our past.









Hollandaise Sauce

The sauce is called hollandaise (“Dutch sauce”) because of the amount of butter used. At least, that’s one theory; like most old recipes, nobody really knows. This is my method for hollandaise, and while it’s the reverse of most methods, which add the eggs to the butter, it works quite well. Simply whip three large egg yolks at room temperature–be careful not to get any whites in the mix–and a teaspoon warm water until light and fluffy. Then, whisking continually, slowly dribble in a half cup (1 stick) warm (melted) butter (unsalted). Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of cayenne, and salt to taste. It shouldn’t break, but if it starts to separate, whisk in another teaspoon warm water.