My Dearest Rhett,
I have sent Prissy with this letter to inform you of the dire straits at Miss Pittypat’s house in Atlanta. As you know, Miss Pittypat has left to stay with relatives in Macon. Melanie has given birth to her son, Beau, but I fear she is much weakened from the ordeal.
Though resources are scant and Atlanta nearly deserted, we find that the
Yankees who have descended upon our once-fair town come in search of more than the despoils of war. They themselves covet the good food and drink of an era that I fear to say will soon be bygone. Can you imagine such a thing? Alas, Rhett, we take in diners and provide them with the libations and the simple suppers they crave.
Fear not. We do not allow these callers into the upstairs drawing room but rather show them to the root cellar, where they take their meals amidst cast iron farm implements, sprays of silk gardenia and louvered window shades which artfully hide the fact there are no windows. As they descend the staircase, our Northern guests espy this fellow preparing cornbread and biscuits the old-fashioned way, and they appear to take much cheer in the sight. I daresay his cornbread bests his biscuits. In a fit of pique I once tossed a biscuit at Ashley Wilkes and knocked the poor fellow senseless. Dear, sweet Melanie forgave me on the spot.
Most choose to start their meals with this mint julep, which we prepare not according to the Kentucky recipe but rather with a blackening muddle of mint leaves and an abundance of sugar syrup. Our guests also appear to enjoy the simplest of beverages, water, served in Miss Pittypat’s old pewter goblets. We put a good chill on the water so the Yankees freeze their lips with each sip.
A few of our guests begin their meals with this South Georgia gumbo ($5.50), which contains sausage, shrimp, whatever fish we have on hand and a good handful of salt. South Georgia gumbo, you ask? Please don’t, Rhett.
Of course, these parsimonious Yankees demand free appetizers, so we have set up something called a salad bar. They help themselves to whatever provisions we can douse in mayonnaise or preserve in vinegar, and they seem to rather enjoy it. They even profess nostalgia at the sight of a mouth-numbing concoction called “three bean salad.”
Dearest Rhett, these Yankees can eat, and they fairly demand huge portions. Many like our fried chicken ($17.95), and I do see why as it is among the crispest and most juicy in the vicinity. One extremely impertinent Yankee asked if we prepared it in a device called a “pressure fryer,” and I told him ladies never discussed such things. He then had the unmitigated gall to ask if the collard greens we offer to all tables came from a freezer bag. In a near rage I grabbed a biscuit from his bread plate and threatened him with a good beaning. I am happy to report he backed off.
Rhett, I must inform you that with the poor state of commerce in Atlanta, we are no longer able to secure the good Gulf seafood we once prided ourselves in. Guests complain that the pan-fried grouper (market price) has an odd texture, both leathery on the surface and mushy within.
Rhett, I beseech you to hurry back and help us return to Tara. I so long for those days of grand balls, fresh fish and lighter-than-air biscuits. Melanie remains sickly, and I’m afraid the steady diet of macaroni salad has done her no favors.
I know the war rages all about, but I beg of you, get me out of here.
With partial sincerity,