Quite often, my close friends ask me, “So Amie, tell us. What’s one of your secret ingredients?”
They are absolutely stunned with my answer: mayonnaise.
Using mayo as a key ingredient may sound unusual for us over on the East coast, but it’s actually a pantry staple for many in the South. Mayo adds a richness and moistness to any dish from savory items like fish to sweet chocolate cake. Yes, I said chocolate cake.
So where did mayo and I become so acquainted? My mother’s side of the family is from a tiny town called Montezuma, Georgia, and I spent a good amount of time there during my childhood. I had a boring palate then, but there was a constant flow of traditional southern specialties that crossed the dinner table: ham and eggs, boiled peanuts, vidalia onion (so sweet my uncle ate ‘em like apples--yes, the same uncle that ate chicken livers for breakfast), collard greens, black-eyed peas (sorry, still can’t love these), brunswick stew, ribs, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, barbecue, fried chicken, grits, hush puppies, sweet potato pie, Divinity at Christmastime, corn-, peach-, or pecan-anything (and pecans no less from the tree in their yard--something grandpa always shipped us up north each year).
Oh, and no surprise, my bologna sandwiches always had mayo on it (still true today).
When I need a food hug, I make bologna with mayo on white bread. That about puts me back to a sunny day at elementary school eating my sandwich from my lunchbox. I have to admit though that watching my uncle eat chicken livers for breakfast was unappealing--and that probably may be one of the reasons you wouldn’t label me a true southerner. Then I grew up. And opening the bakery keeps bringing waves of nostalgia. I miss those carefree days, but I can travel back to moments in time through food.
And more than that, there’s a warmth to Southern hospitality. There’s just nothing like being greeted when you’re down South and every goodbye has “Y’all come back now, ya hear?” You see, there’s a certain warmth and ambiance attached to the South. You are welcomed, paid attention to, taken care of, and leave happy (and full).
I’ve always strived to embrace my Southern roots in both my baking and business style. At AMIE Bakery, we try to impart a bit of that southern charm, northern style. Our joy comes from watching people come in with smiles and leave with bigger ones. We want our customers, who we think of as our friends, to experience that same hospitality. We work hard to create a reminiscent neighborhood bakery where, even if just for a moment, you feel like you’re sitting around a dinner table with family and old friends.
Interested in tasting some of our Southern best sellers? Check out our buttermilk glazed carrot cake or hummingbird cake today!
(Photo Credit: Southern Living)