It’s that time of year again, when we deck out in red, white and blue to celebrate our nation’s independence. Virginia is indisputably the birthplace of our country: it’s home to the first permanent colony of settlers at Jamestown and played a leading role in the American Revolution. Nicknamed the “mother of presidents,” Virginia was also the birthplace of eight of our leaders, including George Washington, our first president, and Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president—who not only played a role in the birth of our country, he helped give birth to modern American cuisine.
Make no mistake about it: Key lime pie simply tastes better in the Florida Keys than anywhere else. Must be the sunshine. Key limes are yellow, not green, and they’re essential to making an authentic key lime pie. That’s the one aspect of the pie that everyone agrees on.
Georgia-born Chef Virginia Willis's cookbooks have become staples for southern cooking. Need a foolproof chess pie or cornbread recipe? Consult Bon Appetit, Y'all. What about a lighter version of cheese straws or chicken and dumplings? Just pull the James Beard Award-winning Lighten Up, Y'all off the shelf. With five previous cookbooks under her apron, Willis also serves as an editor-at-large for Southern Living and writes a regular column “Cooking with Virginia” for SouthernKitchen.com.
Songwriter Jimmy Buffett coined the term “boat drinks” in his 1979 song by the same name. Otherwise known as cocktails garnished with umbrellas, and often containing rum and fruit juice, boat drinks are a summer staple—especially in the Gulf South. You'd be hard-pressed to find a restaurant or bar in neighboring Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, that doesn't serve some type of rum-flavored drink. These warm Gulf waters and white sand beaches are the perfect backdrop for sipping a summer concoction.