This morning, my mind is on biscuits. Maybe it’s because my wife made them a few minutes ago.
She still works, so I do much of the cooking. But I never mastered the art of making biscuits. I tried a couple of times. Both times, the result was rip-rap rock disguised in a golden brown patina.
“You don’t knead biscuit dough, Philip,” my wife said following each failed attempt.
My mother made biscuits often. With lard. They were delicious—as are my wife’s, I hasten to say. Almost every Friday evening, my mother made biscuits served with fried oysters, slaw, catsup, coffee, and some other delicacy, maybe potatoes or cantaloupe.
I never tired of fried oysters. My brother can’t tolerate them to this day, but he still loves biscuits. I knew my sister enjoyed biscuits, too, but I didn’t know how she felt about oysters. I called and asked her:
“I loved them back then,” she said, “but then I found out that the black stuff in oysters is oyster doodoo.”
I took that as a no.
Suppertime at my parents’ house was more than a meal. It was an event. Our father didn’t allow us kids to sit in the living room to eat and watch TV. “Turn off that television and come on,” he would demand from the kitchen, always ready to eat, especially if Mother’s biscuits had just emerged from the oven.
We children could tell stories if something funny or important happened that day, but Daddy didn’t allow humming or singing at the table. I don’t know why. He loved music. In fact, he once sang and played the mandolin in a band featured on a radio station about 25 miles from the family farm. But somewhere along the line, somebody, probably his authoritarian daddy, forbade singing at the table, and our father carried on the prohibition out of respect.
But good biscuits are worth singing about, especially today, because they’ve become endangered in most homes. Making toast for breakfast is much easier. Eating cereal is even easier. My wife made biscuits this morning because we were out of bread for toast and milk for cereal.
Frankly, I think my daddy was onto something when he demanded that we all sit down at the table together for supper. Mealtime was special back then, as it should be now. There’s something about getting together for a good meal—with biscuits—that promotes unity. People can forget their differences over a plateful of buttered biscuits and homemade blackberry jelly.
Dining on biscuits together, Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Republican Mitch McConnell would kiss each other right in the mouth, after, of course, they’ve wiped the jelly from their lips. Well, maybe not.
But good, hot biscuits, served with other delicious food, whether fried, filleted or fricasseed, could be a dealmaker.
The thought kind of makes you want to sing at the table, doesn’t it?