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[IP] A story- How Maw-Maw tried to Kill Me

Hi Pumpers,

   I wanted to share a story about regional cuisine and diabetes:) Hope it
gives you a good laugh.


Southern Cuisine or How Maw-Maw tried to Kill Me

Southern Cuisine is horrible. It also is the most versatile thing on Earth,
for example, there are grits, the multipurpose food. There are myriad way to
eat it and it makes great mortar in a pinch. The ways to eat grits vary,
I've seen them eaten in these ways-

Grits and---

butter (and salt)
butter and bacon
maple syrup
ketchup <shudder>
ham and cheese
cheese and butter
sausage gravy <blech!>

There are likely other methods to eat and fix grits, but I don't want to
know about them and hope I never see them.

But Southern cuisine takes on all new meaning when it comes to my
grandmother in law, Juanita Bullock, who is affectionately know as "Maw-Maw"
( or "the human pantry"). It's taken me almost a year of marriage and
several months living in the deep  South to call her Maw-Maw without
groaning but I can finally say that silly word with a straight face. Her
husband is "Paw-Paw". I call him whatever he wants out of respect.

Maw-Maw lives to cook. I don't think she ever sleeps, she just cooks, all
the time, nonstop food frenzy. She's a vegetable maenad.. There are always
fresh biscuits on her table and the kitchen overflows with food. She also
cans and preserves her own food from her garden. Everything she cooks is
delicious and irresistable, even her biscuits call out with a sirens song to
all who know her. While there, my pump beeps constantly. However,
I am convinced that Maw-Maw is trying to kill me with food.
Not by poisoning me, but by feeding me. For example-

Paul and I were over our cousin Jasons house (Jason is a 29 year old
bachelor and lives alone) and Maw-Maw called Jason to invite him to eat. It
was 10pm on a Saturday night but we were hungry and debating going to The
Awful Waffle anyway. Paul, Jason and I walked across the fields, across
Jason's parents backyard and entered the Land of Maw-Maw. We walked in the
back door (in the South it is impolite to knock on the doors of relatives,
or so it seems, best to simply tap the door and walk in hollering "Hey") and
Maw-Maw had already gotten out the plates. Seems she overcooked for her and
Paw-Paw. There was a smorgasbord all over the kitchen, a wok of sweet and
sour pork, a 13x9 pan of homemade eggplant parmigiana (bumper crops this
year on tomatoes and eggplants), a rice cooker full of rice, pineapple cream
cheese pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie and a Southern oddity,
chess pie. We ate well and there were still leftovers enough to feed another
4 people for a few days. Luckily my diabetes survived the festivity. This
was not the first time Maw-Maw tried to kill me though...

In November, Paul and I came down to visit his folks and I had to stay over
at Maw-Maw's since we weren't married yet. The next morning she made me try
the fig preserves. I resisted and she cajoled me. I submitted to trying the
fig preserves and Maw Maw with a wooden spoon. She always offer food many
times a visit and to refuse is a mistake, she gets upset and will only
insist and keep offering things until you accept an plateful. Now back to
figs, I am conviced these preserves are evil incarnate. They look harmless,
just figs in a sauce, but they have magical powers to kill a diabetic. I had
a piece of toast and two little figs, they were delicious. But then Paw-Paw
and Maw-Maw used...peer pressure to make me eat another one. First off, my
sugars were over 350 after the 3 figs and well...figs are purgatives. I was
sick as a dog. I soon learned that for 3 pounds of figs, Maw-Maw uses 5 lbs
of sugar in her preserves. I don't touch her figs anymore.

Last week, we were over Jasons and walked over to say hi and accompany Jason
while he dropped off his rent check for Paw-Paw. We walked in to find
Paw-Paw using a Rotato to peel the orchards bumper crop of red delicious and
granny smith apples. There was a 4"x9" pile of peels on the kitchen table
and pots of bubbling stuff. Maw Maw was cooking again. She was making 4
apple pies, apple preserves and pear preserves. The pears were about to be
jarred and she offered us each a piece of pear. I started my insulin pump
beeping in delivery when I got my piece of pear. I bit a morsel off, gasped
at the sheer magnitute of the sugar content and handed my toothpick to Paul
who gagged the sickeningly sweet pear sliver down. At least Jason warned me
it was nothing but sugar this time, I still had to try the new delicacy. She
calls them preserves, but actually they are candied. Next time, I'll aviod
the prepared fruits. I worry when anyone gets excited when the liquid used
for simmering the pears gels from the high sugar concentration and they call
it jelly. The apples that were about to be simmered recieved 2 lbs of sugar
on them. . There were ball jars of all colors and had mysterious contents,
pears, candied peaches, peach preserves, and chunky applesauce. This was all
done by 4pm on a Saturday. I have no idea how they run the laundromats
(Loganville's "The Wash Tub" chain) and Maw-Maw stays a size 10 (she's
Cherokee Indian and originally from Appalachia so she has great hearty
genes) if they are always cooking, but they manage it.

I am fed too well on both sides of my family down here. Mama Lib (Mabel
Elizabeth Shuford, but don't dare ever call her that or Gramma) makes pear
relish, a sweetish hot pepper and pear relish that is good on anything, I've
even gone so far as to eat it on saltines, but it's tangy not sweet.  It
puts charoses to shame. I'll eat Mama Libs pear relish on anything. A pint
jar lasts 2 days in our house. Mama Lib cooks alot as well, she makes legs
of lamb, galumpkes, salmon cakes, green beans almondine, spicy pecans, and
pear in strawberry sauce and wine and a squash casserole I adore. Paul fears
most of her cooking though. It's too formal and has too much seafood for his
tastes. Mama Lib is my favorite lunchmate. We have tea sandwhiches, smoked
whitefish salad and bagels and no preserves, not ever, just pear relish.
Mama Lib was raised by her  relatives in New Orleans garden district.
She is tall, stoic and genteel. She will also bite your head off if you get
in her way. She's 89 and a spitfire. She has had emphysema for 30 years now
and will likely live another 5 or so years if she'd actually go to the
doctors when she's sick and not argue with us until we wait until she asks
us to drive her to the doctor becuase she's too sick to drive herself in her
land yacht. She's "ornery" and stubborn and I adore her. She remind me of my
mothers family but with a Southern accent and a serious attitude. When I'm
feeling better, we're going to the Mahoghany Rose Tearoom in Monroe We'll be
sure to wear nice dresses and gloves. In the South, ladies still do that.

But I still think Maw Maw will overfeed me someday and not tell me what is
in the whatever she's loading up the plate with. She'll kill us all with her

Randi J. Bruner-Shuford 10/3/2000

Randi "Pixie" Bruner
GSA Bete

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