One of the many beautiful things about food is that not only can it tell you where you are, it can also take you where you want to be. Biscuits and gravy tell me that I’m at home in the South, but, on many of my long spells living away from home, that same dish helps ease the homesickness that seems to afflict Southerners in a particularly poignant way.
Part of this dish’s magic comes from the memory-summoning charms of the smells that fill a house where it’s being made properly: warm aromas of buttermilk biscuits rising in the oven followed by the fragrance and sound of country sausage popping in an iron skillet. It’s a hearty dish, too – the kind that fills you up like only a grandmother’s cooking seems to do. In a way, for me at least, it’s one of the miracle foods; it fills me up, warms my heart, and floods the mind with happy thoughts of people and places that I love.
Ultimately, it’s a simple dish that, like much of Southern food, was probably born of hard times or a least a keen sense of frugality that rests in the memory of times when “waste not, want not” was neither proverbial nor cliché. Just imagine a harried cook over a wood burning stove with a handful of flour left over from rolling out biscuits alongside a pan of fat remaining from frying up pork sausage. With just a little milk and a couple of minutes, there was not only more food to put on the table, there was also nothing to throw away.
Like all classic foods, this breakfast staple has been and will continue to be modified and reinvented with riffs on the breadstuff itself and all sorts of mutations of the gravy, too. And while we Tomato Heads are all about some innovative cooking, we cling to tradition in the basic approach to this most classic of breakfast foods. All it takes is six ingredients and a little bit of love.
This Saturday, Mahasti will present her simple and simply delicious recipe for Biscuits and Gravy on WBIR’s Weekend Today so you can make it yourself. Here’s a link to the recipe for The Tomato Head’s Sausage Gravy. But if you find that your craving is stronger than your will to roll out biscuits, just come on down to either Tomato Head. We’ll share ours with you! And while we can give you all our happy memories, we’re happy to help you make some of your own – one biscuit at a time.