Must be born with talent for making good biscuits

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 1999

There are reports nowadays that claim there is evidence that certain diseases and traits can be traced back to a genetic predisposition. Some people can read earlier, not digest carbohydrates, or come down with maladies all because their great-great-great grandfather happened to woo a young maiden who carried just the right (or wrong) mix of chromosomes. Poof, zam zowee: five generations later you can't say the word watermelon without breaking out into a rash.

I firmly believe that the ability to make a proper biscuit is an inherited trait.

This all came to mind when I realized that this Sunday is Men's Breakfast Sunday. Several years ago, I made the offer to bring home made biscuits rather than those "whompum" things you explode on the kitchen counter. After the first tentative bites, I've been given the task to make sure we have a good supply monthly.

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I come from a family that has a long (and wide) tradition of being rather handy in the kitchen. My mother can put a scald on fried chicken that makes people wait in line to get in the kitchen, and a pecan pie that exhibits all that is right with Southern cuisine. But she couldn't make a biscuit to save her life.

All this comes to me when I think back to my grandmother, Mimi. Mimi's been gone almost five years, and a lot of memories come flooding back as I fondly remember times past. One thing that always comes to mind is her ability to take flour, buttermilk, and Crisco and turn it into a feast fit for kings.

Mimi's biscuits fell into the "semi-cathead" range: big enough to absorb mass quantities of tomato gravy, but small enough for patty sausage to hang out of the edge. They had the consistency that allowed you to drag them through syrup without leaving a crumb, as well as sop up any left over egg yolks on your breakfast plate.

The reason I say biscuit making is genetic is that in our family it skips generations. The first time Mimi stood me by her side and showed me the secret of making the well in the flour pan, cutting in the Crisco, adding the buttermilk, then bringing in just enough flour to make the dough where it didn't stick, but wasn't dry, she was as amazed as I that everything seemed like second nature. They turned out just like hers, and I can still see the smile of pride that accompanied the hug I received.

The jury's still out on Savannah. Angel makes a pretty mean biscuit herself, so maybe Savannah will escape the skipped generation. So all in all, the Stacy household is well equipped to keep a steady supply of a staple of southern cooking about the house.

But I'd pay a million dollars to have one more batch of biscuits made by my Mimi.