What Oklahoma Gave me: Beans and Cornbread (humility of place)

What Oklahoma Gave Me

Yesterday I said it a little. Today I am going to say it a lot: I was pretty snobby when I arrived in Ada.  Before we ever arrived in our rental house Kel’s board members loaded up our fridge with food so that we wouldn’t have to do a grocery run upon arrival.

I assured Kel that they wouldn’t get it right and that I’d end up throwing most of it away, after all they were southerners and I didn’t like chicken fried steak or fried pickles.  (I know… I know… pretentious with a capital P!)

I’m pretty sure that I scoffed and made jokes about what I found in the fridge, turning up my nose at most of it.  I have no idea what I was trying to prove to the state of Oklahoma, but… ugh…what a snob.

So, when I heard about the classic Oklahoma dish “beans and cornbread” I turned my nose up at it.  Who would just eat beans and bread for dinner?  What Nonsense…Crazy Okies!

Then I was given 2 ham bones and a bag of pinto beans all in the same week and the die was cast.  I don’t waste food and Beans and Cornbread fit the bill.

So I simmered up a big ol’ pot of beans on my stove and dove in that evening with a little pretentious sour cream and cilantro on top.  And I loved it, A lot… like A LOT A LOT.  

As The Pioneer Woman says: There’s something so pure and elemental about a pot of dried beans, don’t you think?

Yes Ree, Yes I do.

So now, when it’s chilly or rainy or I just plain feel like it… I grab my large, red dutch oven and start a pot of beans to boil on the stove.  And then I promptly feel like an unlikely Okie and a pioneer of sorts.

Because there isn’t a thing that’s pretentious about a pot of beans for dinner.  It’s simple cowboy food, something I make when the budget is tight but we need protein on the cheap.

And with every bite of beans and crumbled morsel of cornbread I swallow a bit of humble pie.

Because it turns out that Beans and Cornbread is great and that every state has delicious flavor to bring to the table.  And I’m not just talking about food here.

There is no superior state in the union, or place on earth that’s necessarily better than any other.  Oklahoma is the perfect fit for the souls who were cut out for it.  It’s a land and a life beloved my many people I love myself.

 beans and cornbread

And so it was that Beans and Cornbread gave me not only delicious food, but a hearty lesson in humility.  Also it helped me give up my Oklahoma bashing once and for all, and that caused me to surrender the practice of bashing altogether.

Every place is someone’s beloved home, whether they live there or not.  Even if Oklahoma’s not for me it’s certainly for some people, most of them my current friends and neighbors.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to humility of place but to a slew of other things as well.

There is almost always more then one way to do things whether it’s parenting, church, diet, house color, mailbox style, fashion sense… the list is endless.

The only instance I can think of where this doesn’t apply is in “what order should one dust and vacuum?”  And in this case it’s dust first vacuum second I don’t care what you say.

But really, truly we should stop our bashing on other people’s way of life.  It’s pretty pointless, even if we happen to be right we aren’t doing anything but gossip or complain.  

We help no one and accomplish nothing.

So now I’m a more humble person, I make cornbread and I praise the grand state of Oklahoma for all it’s given me and in honor of all those who love it and call it home.

Thank you oklahoma for Beans, Cornbread and all that humble pie.  (Here’s my favorite recipe for beans and cornbread... which I make with a ham bone or bacon)

What unlikely source gave you a hearty dose of humility?

What dish did you once hate and now can’t help but love?

  • http://twitter.com/TheAndyGilmore Andrew Gilmore

    I absolutely love beans and cornbread. I know a lot of people don’t get it, but it really is full meal in itself if you do it right.

    By the way, I never told you this, but a lot of my mom’s side of the family lives/lived in Allen–just a stone’s throw from your ex-abode!

    We’re sad to see you go, but good luck in your new (old) place.

  • fiona lynne

    Oh this is an important lesson to learn for me as an expat too. It’s too easy to come in with a hundred judgements on the place you’ve arrived. But it’s someone’s home. And now I cringe every time I hear another expat making some sweeping judgement on something here in Luxembourg, in earshot of Luxembourgers. Thanks for writing!

  • Mark Allman

    Leanne,
    At one time I had the bad habit of deciding if I liked someone when I first met them and even sometimes before I met them. I remember what broke me of this habit. I decided I did not like this guy before even meeting him and was vocal about it. After he became a good friend I looked back on this habit of mine with shame and with a resolve to quit doing that to people, ideas, food, and so on.

  • Deanna Piercy

    I felt the same way about beans and cornbread but now I make them. David loves them although we prefer red beans and rice. 😉 I also thought biscuits and gravy sounded odd for a meal but now I love it.

  • Mark Allman

    Oh,
    I have loved pinto’s and corn bread my whole life. At my grandma Allman’s she would make the best cornbread I have ever had and we would just butter it and eat it or crumble it up in milk and eat it. I miss my grandma and I miss her cornbread.

    • leannepenny

      Absolutely. Corn bread is THE BEST in soups and stews! a little honey in the batter makes it even better!