Paula Deen has recently opened a new restaurant and gift shop inside the Harrah's Casino in nearby Robinsonville, Mississippi. All her "Paula Deen Products" are available for sale as well as a wide array of other gifts. The restaurant was modeled on her home in Savannah, Georgia, from the shutters on the windows to the wide front porch with the wicker chairs. Inside, there are six dining areas--"Paula's Parlour," "The Pantry," "The Famous Bird Cage Room," "The Porch," "The Mud Room," and "The Morning Room." There six food stations inside the restaurant. The first station is "Granny Paul's Garden," a fresh salad and raw vegetable selection--not too many Southerners stopping there. The second station is "Uncle Bubba's Oyster House," full of scrumptious seafood. The third station is "The Lady and Son's" with all of Paula's favorite Southern foods. The fourth is the "Hoecake and Biscuit Station"--very good stuff y'all. The fifth is "Captain Michael's Smokehouse"--lots of meat, chicken, and pork dishes prepared with Paula's rubs. Finally, there's "Little Jack's Corner," named for her grandson Jack and loaded with any type of tempting Southern dessert you could possibly want. The restaurant uses china designed especially for Paula by Gail Pittman--very cute and a nice touch! Miss Paula suggest that you wear your "stretchy pants" when coming to her restaurant and I'm glad I listened. The visit was Very Southern...Very Memorable.
Here's Miss Paula's restaurant
Miss Paula and me
After about ten visits later, I guess you could say that I'm a regular. As I was enjoying the Southern delacacies during my last visit, I had to ask myself why I was so attracted to this restaurant. Then I realized that it's because this is the food that we Southerners grew up on a "Mama and 'Em's". It's the food we don't prepare for ourselves because we don't have the time or talent. Now this food is not for your uppity crowd--there's cabbage cooked in bacon grease, turnip greens in fat back, corn that is creamed and sauteed in butter...just that good 'ole food Southerners enjoy. Another thing I noticed is that everybody is all about "Thank You, Excuse Me, and You're Welcome" in that place. You just have to be Southerner to "get it."
The whole experience reminded me of these new t-shirts that are being sold all over the South--"How's Ya Mama and "Em?" The artist, Rhonda Rayborn, designs these darling t-shirts featuring the saying "How's Ya Mama and 'Em?", which is a really a southern way of asking about your Mama and the rest of your family. When I spoke with Ms. Rayborn, I couldn't believe that she lives four or five houses down the street from another well-known artist, my cousin--J. Kim Sessums, M.D. There's a whole lot of talent on that beautiful street in the small town of Brookhaven, Mississippi.
"How's Ya Mama and 'Em?" is the registered trademark and brainchild of Ms. Rayborn. Growing up in the antebellum town of Natchez, Mississippi, Rhonda's grandmothers taught her how to be a southern lady. She said that "Weekends spent with her grandmothers were like attending a southern hospitality university, and that whenever she was afraid of some bully-girls on the school bus, her grandmothers would say, "They're just like you, only you're prettier!"
All of her charming t-shirts are based on sayings that are native to the South; i. e., "Do you believe in love at first sight, or do I need to walk back by?" (Oh my Lord, if I weren't married, I would buy that one in every color)! and "Mess with this Mississippi girl...you'll be messin' with the whole trailer park"! The one I chose was "Hey y'all, how's ya mama and 'em?"
You can purchase these cute t-shirts online at Rhonda Rayborn's website, or call her at 601.757.7388.
Front of the t-shirt
Back of the t-shirt
Since Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cuisine, now has her own tableware, I decided to create a very casual tablescape, featuring her china and linens in the Dot Crazy pattern. The menu consists of comfort foods just like you would typically have at "Mama and 'Em's" house. These are the foods that my mama always fixed for Sunday Dinner (the Southern term for lunch--held right after you get home from church on Sunday morning) when I was growing up. She still fixes the same food for me when I go home to visit. Notice that there's no fancy centerpiece here--just the salt and pepper shakers and the food on the table, served very Southern--family style.
Fried Pork Chops
Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Sweet Southern Iced Tea
Just the food please, served family-styleIf you are ever in the Memphis area, be sure to try Miss Paula's restaurant. It will be sure to make your trip Southern...and Memorable. Thank you for stopping by today. Tomorrow I am participating in Trim-A-Tree Thursday, which will be hosted by The Southern Hostess. I'm not sure what I'll be showing, but I'll come up with something.