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Southern Staples: Sweet Tea, Dr. Pepper, and Barbeque

By Tisha Sharp


As Southern infants, many of us are weaned from milk with the standard half water, half sweet tea bottle. This would explain why pediatric dentistry is booming in the Southern half of the United States.


Sweet tea, by definition, is made with Luzianne tea bags - no ifs, ands, or buts. There are other "tea" bags, but to stay true to the Southern way of life, Luzianne is the way to go. The amount of sugar is debatable but the absolute minimum is one and a half cups to two quarts of tea. For those Southerners not 'flicted with the 'sugah diabetes', three cups are the standard. Sweet tea is best served mid morning to late afternoon in order to benefit from all of its caffeine/sugar boosts of energy. Never drink sweet tea while watching Letterman unless you plan on watching all of the infomercials following him for the next two hours.


Dr. Pepper was invented by a pharmacist in Waco, Texas in 1885. Many recovering alcoholics survive their addiction with a little help from this caffeine laden, sugar dripping liquid. A true Southerner can accurately identify a good Pepper with its perfect ratio of carbonation and syrup at the first sip, the beautiful burn as it travels down the throat, and five minute high that follows. Don't buy the hype that the diet version tastes like the real thing ? that's like taking your Mom to the prom and saying you were on a date. And take a case with you when traveling north or on a cruise ship. Plead medical necessity, but take your own or you will be forced to drink Mr. Pibb, a pitiful excuse for a Southern delicacy.


Last but not least, barbeque was born, reared, and perfected by the South. You never hear about great brisket or ribs in Idaho or Pennsylvania, do you? Sure, they all imitate our techniques, but the fact remains that only Southern sweat produces meat so tender it falls off of the bone. Only Southern ingenuity combines such diverse ingredients to tease and tantalize the taste buds. Only Southern skill can build grills and smokers larger than most college dorm rooms. Barbeque isn't just food but a way of life in the South. The patience of smoking meat translates into how we raise our children, cultivate our gardens, and love our spouses.


Many people adore visiting the South for a variety of reasons but only a few have the gumption to move here and live among the "blessed". We endure ever-changing weather conditions with sweet tea in the summer, Dr. Pepper and barbeque all year round. Visitors that pass through our towns and lives do not understand how these three staples tie all Southerners together. Raise your glasses up and toast the South. Wipe the sauce off of your face when you are finished.


ŠTisha Sharp


A cross between a Texan and Okie with hybrid Arkansas children, Tisha Sharp's passion for writing is only second to her kids, husband, dogs, and the purchase of workout equipment. She can be contacted and read at Tisha Sharp the Writer


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