Beans and cornbread have been a staple in our house for years. Growing up it was one of my favorite meals that my grandma cooked. She usually served it with fried potatoes which made it even better. For those that don't know the beans are usually brown beans (pinto beans) cooked with a ham bone or if you don't have a ham bone I use bacon grease. You can do them from dried beans - soak and then cook them until tender with the ham bone and salt or bacon grease and salt. My grandma always used Randall beans from a jar.
It was not until my husband and my dad were talking shortly after we were married that I realized not everyone ate beans and cornbread the way we do. My husband was with me at my grandma's and my dad asked him if he wanted some beans and cornbread. To which my husband answered the now infamous answer, "I've had beans. And I've had cornbread, but I've never had beans AND cornbread."
You see my husband would have beans and maybe cornbread on the side, but we do things quite differently. We start out with a bowl and then we take a piece of cornbread and break it up in the bowl and then we pour our beans on top of our cornbread. My husband thought this was odd and now whenever beans and cornbread are brought up, my dad says this to my husband, "I've had beans. And I've had cornbread, but I've never had beans AND cornbread." and it drives him crazy. But we all think its funny.
I wasn't sure how far reaching this way of eating beans and cornbread reached. I assumed it was a southern tradition since my grandparents are from Tennessee and that is where we learned to eat it. But I was talking to my husband's aunt over the weekend and she told us her son-in-law did the strangest thing. She explained they were having beans and cornbread and then she went on to tell us that he broke up his cornbread and put that in his bowl and then poured the beans on top of that. Well, of course my husband and I looked at each other and I started cracking up.
Then I had to find out if this was a regional thing and I have come to the conclusion that people east and south of the Missouri River do eat their cornbread in their beans and people west of it don't. Of course I only polled 10 people.
Now I must know - how do you eat your beans and cornbread?
Of course I should note that this won't work with sweet cornbread. We make our cornbread like my grandma, not sweet and in a cast iron skillet.