Since I was little there’s been this thing in our family – this phrase, “Groover cooking.” It’s what everyone else might call “home cooking.” But more specifically, it refers the deliciously salty, often fried, served with iced tea dishes that came out of the kitchens of my grandma and her four sisters (my great aunts) whose maiden name was Groover.
I have often wanted to write about these ladies that are in so many of my childhood memories. They were characters – all of them (my Great Aunt Claribell is the only remaining living sibling) from their names (Ethelda Waltina, Genevieve, Mary Louise, Bertha Marie, Claribell Levonia respectively) to their old-lady permanent hairdos. I sat with them in squeaky, uncomfortable wooden church pews some Sundays, and other days (the days I enjoyed more) they taught me the word “hussy” and “shit.” I’ll have to find a way to write more on them later either collectively or individually about my grandma and my favorite great aunt (Claribell). For now, it’s enough to know they liked their Sunday dinners big, their tea sweet, and their country music twangy.
Even though my maiden name obviously isn’t Groover, I grew up in a household where things were always labeled on a sliding scale of Groover-hood. If you like fried chicken in our family, you are a Groover. If you don’t mind food made with Crisco on occasion, you are a Groover. When Hank rejected his first-ever bite of mashed potatoes, we wondered if he really was a Groover. Growing up, if you had to split holidays between different sides of the family, you saved your hunger for the Groover meal. And if you’ve ever eaten an embarrassingly delicious food like fried bologna sandwiches or “Shit on a Shingle,” you’ve had Groover food.
So tonight, when I couldn’t think of what to make for dinner, I asked Matt to turn on some Pandora music for me. I thought he’d put on Paul Simon or the Shins station like usual. Instead, he surprised me with my guilty pleasure Dixie Chicks station. It may not have been Conway Twitty, but it did the trick. I channeled my inner Groover. I got out Groover dishes. I didn’t worry about calories or sodium levels, and I made Groover fried chicken and mashed potatoes. It wasn’t quite right, and I didn’t have any tea; but I’ll be damned if the smell of dish soap after a salty dinner didn’t take me right back to my great aunt’s kitchen.