Dana Seith! Dana is the twin sister of one of my very closest friends. We discovered a few months ago that our lives are taking somewhat parallel courses, and we really should stay in touch and exchange jam. Actually, the jam didn't have anything to do with anything, but it was fun. So, here's Dana on her current adopted city of Atlanta. You can continue to follow her here...and read my guest post for her!
A Taste of Atlanta
A few years, ago one of my editors summed up Atlanta with this metaphoric phrase, “we are the bratty little sister.” And unless you actually live here, you certainly wouldn’t understand what that really means. But, it’s the honest truth. We’re brats. We look to imitate our older siblings - like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami - while trying to outdo them at the same time – and I think we are often successful.
I moved to Atlanta nine years ago, and it’s taken me about that long to fully grasp the true heart of this city – distracted as I was at first by simple appearances – dogwood-lined streets (most of them with names that include some form of the word Peachtree), bungalow homes complete with porch swings, and the surprising lack of the stereotyped images I held of the South - antebellum estates and Spanish moss. To find the true South, you have to travel west to Birmingham or east to Savannah or Charleston.
So now, on closer inspection, I’ve discovered the heart and soul of this city and found that I love it. I especially like Atlanta’s little neighborhood nooks - Inman and Candler Parks, Virginia Highlands, Midtown, and Buckhead, each with its own distinctive personality.
Another surprise? Atlanta is an incredibly transient city. Because so many large companies (UPS, Coca-Cola, Turner, Delta, Home Depot and Southern Company, among them) make their home here, they draw people from all over the world making Atlanta a melting pot. A little less concentrated than maybe NYC, but still, distinctly there. The natives you will find are few and a very tight-knit group.
That makes this a city whose sense of self constantly ebbs and flows with the influx of new ideas and new blood. We have myriad homegrown ideas and some amazing natural wonders that those cities can’t even aspire to. This city is remarkable for its seamless integration of urban and country. The pace of the city suits me, as does its size. It’s just big enough to feel like a major metropolis, but not so big that you’re swallowed up in it.
But, really, what I adore the most is springtime in Atlanta – there’s no other spring quite like it. After a mild winter (to say the least in comparison to Vermont), Atlanta comes alive by late February and early March – and its perfect patio weather can often last clear till June. Those Saturdays where you can garden and be outdoors all day, then cook something great and eat al fresco... Heaven on a plate.
That leads me to Atlanta’s culinary scene – the chefs and the farm-to-table movement that predominates on many restaurant menus are right up my alley. Below is a recipe from one of the best chefs to come out of the South – Ms. Edna Lewis. Lewis is largely responsible for teaching Chef Scott Peacock – Southern Living columnist and owner of The Watershed – the famous Decatur Georgia restaurant owned by one half of the Indigo Girls.
Now, back to Edna Lewis – below is her recipe for lemonade. Because, it’s just perfect for a nice, spring day in Atlanta, or wherever you are.
2 cups sugar
½ gallon well water (bottled spring water)
1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced into thin slices
Fresh mint (optional)
Dissolve the sugar in the well water. Add the lemon juice, a solid piece of ice, and lemon slices. This can be put into a stone crock or a glass ice bucket and decorated with mint, if desired.
Dana Hazels Seith is a journalist who lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. She is founder and editor-in-chief of danapop, a mashup of all things culture, life, food & drink, and travel.