Back in the days after World War II, industrious Southern ladies began opening their own restaurants, or more genteelly names "tea rooms." But these tea rooms didn't serve pots of Earl Grey and dainty cucumber sandwiches—they were family-style dining establishments whose tea came iced and sweetened in pitchers and menus were all about hearty Southern classics such as fried okra and pork chops. Today there are only a handful of these tea rooms left, but the lines are just as long and the food epitomizes not only Southern cooking but Southern hospitality.
Perhaps the most well-known of these establishments is Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta, a bustling dining room that has been pouring sweet tea and serving up the best mac n' cheese in town since 1945. All meals at Mary Mac's begin with a complimentary cup of pot likker and a piece of corn bread. Guests are then given an ordering pad and pencil to tick off the items they want to order from the extensive menu.
For those of us who haven't had the pleasure of dining at Mary Mac's, owner John Ferrell has put together a new cookbook that includes all of the tried and true recipes that has made the restaurant such a longstanding favorite for locals and out-of-towners alike. Mary Mac's Tea Room includes all of the classics, Chicken and Dumplings, Fried Chicken, Salmon Croquettes, and of course, all of the wonderful sides that really make the meal.
Everyday this week we are going to be sharing home-style recipes from Mary Mac's Tea Room using the gorgeous summer produce that is available this time of year including Fried Green Tomatoes, Peach Cobbler, and Fried Okra.
Win 'Mary Mac's Tea Room'
Thanks to the generous folks over at Andrews McMeel, we are giving away five (5) copies of Mary Mac's Tea Room this week. All you have to do is tell us about your most memorable Southern dining experience in the comments section below.
Five (5) people will be chosen at random among the eligible comments below. We're sorry, but entry is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close Monday, July 19 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.