As I sat eating my turkey sandwich on toasted Italian bread with Dukes Mayo and pickled beets on the side, I started thinking about when I was a young girl and lived at Granny’s house and how I heard that phrase “7 sweets and 7 sours” at all of the big dinners, or even Sunday dinners that took place at her house or at my Great Grandmother, Mimi’s house on those occasions. I realized how much those ” 7 sweets and 7 sours” added to the enjoyment of the meals.
Let me explain, “7 sweets and 7 sours” had everything to do with how good a cook you were, and how wonderful a hostess you were. All those little colored and cut glass dishes that are so pretty that you now see all the time in antique stores, this is what they were for. But the 7 sweets did not mean 7 desserts, it meant 7 condiments that were served with the main meal as a sidebar and enhancement to the main course. It meant exactly the same with the 7 sours. So… for sweets it would be pickled beets, pickled Holland onions, sweet pickles, sweet and hot chow-chow, pickled spiced peaches, sweet fruit chutney, and jams and honey, apple butter, cranberry sauce, or my particular favorite combination, blackberry or strawberry butter. For the sours it would be stuffed olives, dill pickles, pickled summer squash, pickled okra, pickled green beans, sour baby cukes, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, chopped up with white vinegar and salt, pimento cheese and chive butter are a few examples. Yes indeed, its a lot to aspire to. But damn it’s delicious.
But my thought is, why not do it on a less grand scale. And why not use some good pre-made (as in store bought) sweets and sours to add to the things that you make yourself.
Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets are one of my personal favorites. And Wickle’s Pickles are about the best sweet spicy store bought pickle you can get your lips around (they have a website if you live somewhere else besides here). Make up a few deviled eggs, they have become the darling of the new south “farm to table” appetizer course, and are on every menu I have read at high end restaurants in the past 2 years. Y’all know, pimento cheese is one of my personal favorites, and it is delicious on a cornbread or a biscuit. My recipe for it is on this blog, Feb. 2012. Pull out some good stuffed olives, or stuff some yourself with blue cheese or pimento cheese. A sweet friend named Jo’an from England has just gotten me started on Lindsay canned olives, they are not so salty and are just dying to be stuffed with something savory. Figs are just out of season but still available in some places, I love mine with a shard of Parmesan and drizzled with honey as an accompaniment roasted chicken and vegetables, it makes the whole meal taste better. Buy a few of those colored glass dishes, or use your Grannys, and have a little extra something with your food. These things aren’t a lot of trouble, they light up your taste buds and an everyday meal becomes just a little special. Hey I’m all about celebrating a little for almost no reason.