My friend Michele and I like to try new restaurants once in while. Sometimes it turns out good. Sometimes it doesn't. Our latest new food experience was hit and miss. I had some macaroni and cheese that was phenomenol (I really want to know what kind of cheese they used) and her pepper steak with gorgonzola was good, too. (We swapped bites--sue us).
Where it failed, for me at least, was the collard greens.
For some ungodly reason--they had onions in them.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against onions. I frickin' love onions. At work, if an employee meal pops up and it has "add onions" the general (correct) assumption is said meal is mine. So my annoyance didn't come from not liking onions.
It came from the fact that the collard greens had onions in them.
I've lived in the South all my life. I probably will, if only for the fact I really sincerely don't like cold weather--by which I mean anything under sixty degrees. I've grown up on what's alternately called southern food and soul food (I'm not going to argue on whether they are or are not one and the same). I was raised on things like fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and lemon meringue pie (I don't know if that's Southern or not but just go with it).
Never in my life has anyone I have ever known put onions in collard greens.
The more I think about it, the more insulting it is to true Southern cooking.
Every born and bred Southern cook knows that the key to cooking collard green is to cook them slow, because it keeps them tender, with a little salt and oil. And finally, you add some sugar to them, to counteract the natural bitterness of the greens. Here's where my mother and I differ, because she adds the sugar at the end and I add sugar throughout the process. Her explanation is you can't tell the sweetness until the end. I say you want to cook the sugar in to the greens.
Either way--there are no onions.
If you take anything away from this post, it should be that simple fact--you don't put onions in collard greens.