PawPaw Merle and Granny Bobbitt spent New Year’s Day the same way as most every other day – cooking. Perhaps it was in higher volume than other days, but it was still spent in the kitchen with family.
If I let you in on a little secret, don’t hold it against Granny. She isn’t a real fan of black-eyed peas. She much prefers lady creams or purple hull peas, but on New Year’s Day she conceded and let Merle and the boys cook up a big pot of blacked-eyed peas. Her real favorite is lady creams. These smooth, creamy cowpeas have a bit sweeter flavor than black-eyed peas.
Matt grew up in that very kitchen that turned out those black-eyed peas every New Years as well as the lady creams. He canned hundreds of veggies like pickles, green beans and chow-chow. He lights up a little bit when he talks about the mayhaw jelly they’d make every year.
Every morning, on the other side of that tiny kitchen, sat all the ranch hands. The table was set with large portions of Southern favorites and the front door was always open to anyone in need of a hearty breakfast. I assume this is where Matt’s heart took shape – his desire to welcome anyone and everyone. To cook twice as much as needed, incase someone else walks through the door.
Paw may no longer be alive, but his spirit was with us in our kitchen this morning. He never had the pleasure of knowing his great-grandchildren, but they sure do tickle Granny so I think he would have enjoyed them too. Listening to Matt’s stories over the years is why Merle’s Southern Market has been on our hearts for a while now.
While there are many layers to this new venture – catering, front-porch delivery, even a restaurant one day – we know the most important thing is to honor the name, Merle. To make sure whatever comes of it all, it is rooted in true Southern hospitality.
In the coming weeks we will announce more, but we hope you all start off the New Year with your black-eyed peas, cabbage, smoked ham and all the family favorites you grew up with. Most importantly, we hope you are with your friends and family, ready to take on a new year!