Mama had a certain expression back in the day that covered the gamut of faux pas. If she saw a woman out in public in hair curlers, she would thin her lips and shake her head and utter sotto voce, “Tacky city.” Mama was no snob, but some sights she deemed were just a pure personal affront.
She usually uttered these two words a lot more often when she took us to the rides at Myrtle Beach. To her, Myrtle Beach was the penultimate Tacky City. No wife beaters or tats missed Mama’s glare and whisper. And heaven help the poor soul wearing a checked shirt and plaid pants. Your uncle wore a starched shirt, Bermudas and long black knee-socks with black wing-tip shoes on the beach. Mama never uttered a syllable in front of Uncle Milton, but you knew what she was thinkin’. But then, in 1963, there were not a whole lot of options for men’s beach wear.
How come so many things that seemed sort of tacky, have made a turn around? Especially in the world of southern gastronomy. Mama is still reeling from these modern concepts:
1. Grits for supper. Mama about died when we first took her to a restaurant that served shrimp and grits. Who would have thought? She made them for breakfast. Period. No tempura-battered sage leaves nor quail were added.
2. Collards as haute cuisine. Collards were considered a side vegetable. Period. Not a delicacy served at some fancy establishment, coated in bourbon and brown sugar. Nope. Simply boiled with ham hocks.
3. Coke as food. Growing up, every soda was called a “Coke.” This was something you drank, not to pour into cake batter or brush on hams.
4. Pimento cheese as a menu staple. Now all of the hip southern venues are hawking pimento cheese slathered all over everything. You love pimento cheese more than life itself, but growing up it only made an appearance between two slices of white bread, toasted, on a TV tray next to a can of Campbell’s tomato soup (pronounced as Camel’s soup in these parts).
5. Boiled peanuts as da bomb. According to Garden and Gun magazine, this is the HIP new appetizer at the ‘in’ New York watering holes. Hah! You can buy them from Bubba’s stand down in Freeport for a buck a bag. NYC charges $8 for a teensy bowl.
Mama may still be right about the hair curlers. She may be right about some of the rest, too.
But the Pavilion at Myrtle Beach? Even Mama would agree–they don’t make them like that anymore. An old classic–just like Mama.