Southern in L.A. II: The Heart of Barbecue...

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     When I think about barbecue, I think about backyards, family, a down home easiness emphasized with beer, and inevitably secret sauce on your face and fingers. Park's Finest BBQ had all of that, but I didn't expect to find it in Filipinotown.      Between the sign for Historic Filipinotown and the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles, you could easily pass this new storefront. The sign is a sagging banner and the parking is less than inviting--that is to say there is none. But inside, the place offers a casualness of a family joint and the crux of any barbecue joint: delicious sauce. I dropped in on a Wednesday, when all they serve is what they call their Worker's Plate. It's a little bit of everything: pulled pork, barbecue chicken, smoked sausage, coconut beef,...

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Finding Soul in SoCal Food

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     When I moved from Savannah, GA to Los Angeles, CA a fleeting three months ago, I was warned by people who'd lived in LA that I might become one of two things, either a pot head or a health nut. Well, so far, I'm still a Southerner just looking for some good grub. The extensive healthy food options and easy access to fresh produce is a luxury that took no time to for me to appreciate, but I've been missing, well, anything fried. I crave that stick-to-your-bones full you get from any food that might have "down-home" in the name. Not the kind of food you eat to fuel your chakras or to detox. I'm talking about the kind of food that (despite your cholesterol levels) feeds the needs of your soul. I've...

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Southern in: Keystone, SD

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We stopped for the sign that advertised $3 burgers and $2 beer, the kind of sign tacked to a white wooden building with a stuffed buffalo on the front porch. The sign that reminds you you’re in South Dakota and the only thing to quench the thirst developed over miles of dusty, rolling prairie land is a cold, cheap Budweiser. If you ever found yourself in southwest South Dakota, you were probably there for a reason. It’s a tourist-frequented region of the state that’s not within an easy drive of any metropolitan area. Yet still many find themselves in this enchantingly void land. Most are children thrown by Dad into the back of minivans, or Germans, Asians, or Parisians by the tourbus load sharing visits to Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Custer State Park, Deadwood,...

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Southern in: Salt Lake City, UT II...

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  Here in Salt Lake City, the winter season is officially upon us. The ski resorts opened up in full force last week, just in time for the Thanksgiving crowd and Temple Square is decorated with such beauty and enthusiasm, I'm imagining that it would give the North Pole a run for its money. Christmas and winter are taken on with a zeal that is almost indescribable here in America's Zion. Seriously, if Yuletide were a sport, Utah would be world champion of the extreme version. It is an absolutely magical time of year. As a southern transplant from coastal North Carolina, I’ve been transported to the winter wonderland that I've always romanticized while sitting on my mama's porch swing after Christmas dinner, wearing shirtsleeves and glad for the scent of burning leaves because...

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Southern in: Salt Lake City, UT...

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     I’ve traded fiery foliage for majestic rocky peaks, heady summer thunderstorms for white Christmases, ancient history for pioneer spirit, and sadly, sweet tea for caffeine-free soda and lemonade.      Two and a half years ago my husband Hunter and I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. We moved to an eclectic neighborhood nested in the valley of the Wasatch Mountains and decided to plant ourselves here for a while. I'll be honest; it took a minute to stop reeling.      We find ourselves astounded daily by the magnificent natural beauty that graces this part of the world and consistently entertained (and sometimes aghast) at the cultural quirks of a place so completely foreign to the blood that flows through our veins. We are carving out an adventure here, 2,000 miles...

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Southern in: the U.S.A.

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About two and a half years ago, I decided that it'd be a good enough idea to sell everything and pack the rest, and embark upon a cross-country tour. I'd live in a different city every three months. I'd work in coffeeshops (and sometimes bars and restaurants) to pay my way. With this kind of gameplan, I would get to experience the local culture cultivated by all kinds of American cities. At first I moved through a couple cities in Virginia (including Richmond, the former Confederate capital), but things naturally weren't all that different than they were Back Home. And then there was Our Nation's Capital, gleaming and polished. What people don't often realize about DC, though, is that it's actually a very Southern city despite all the pomp and legalese. There are plenty...

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