Friday, August 22, 2008

Porkenbeans, y'all

A recent discussion with my husband had me thinking about pork and beans.

Growing up in the South, I never used or heard used (at least not in my house) the term "baked beans."

We always said "pork and beans" - even if there was no pork in there - which there usually wasn't - or just one itty bitty little slab of salt pork or some weird fat-looking thing like they put in the top of Campbell's Pork and Beans. (And btw, we pronounced it "porkenbeans" - like it was one word.)

It made me realize how easily we let our own ear slip into our writing.

In Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, there is a line:

She cussed at me and threw a can of pork and beans clear across the room.

I never would have written: threw a can of baked beans.

Yesterday I was listening to country western music on the radio.

There is a song by Sara Evans called When You Were Cheating.

It goes like this:

How do you like that furnished room
The bed, the chair, the table?

The tv picture comes and goes,

Too bad you don't have cable.

How do you like that paper plate?
And those pork 'n beans your eatin'
Maybe you should have thought about that...when you were cheating

So, I guess it's a Southern thing?

Or is it just me?

At any rate, I think it's important to stay in touch with your natural ear.


Heather said...

I'm from Michigan, and it was all pork-n-beans for my family. I thought baked beans were for rich people! BTW, I just finish Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia and loved it! Can't wait to share it with my students this year.

debrennersmith said...

I am from Michigan too. My family always says baked beans. I think it has to do with 'who is your mama!' My mama said, "baked beans," so I do too. My children just say, "Yuck!" After I give them a mama look, they say, "No, thank-you!"

Jennifer said...

"Baked beans" sounds more Boston/New England-y to me. Though I think the traditional recipe calls for pork, too.

(BTW I made those blueberry crumb bars last week... ah, delicious!)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I grew up in San Francisco and it was ALWAYS pork'n beans. I never heard it called baked beans until I was an adult. And then for a LONG time I still thought baked beans were different but I wasn't sure how they were different and I was too embarrassed to ask. And then I heard the phrase Boston baked beans and I wondered again, what are those? And when pe9ple talked about Boston baked beans I'd pretend I knew what they were. Am I pathetic?

Augusta Scattergood said...

No question but that in Mississippi we said/ate pork 'n beans. And had lots of "fancy" recipes for them. And how about Vienna sausage. Gross! I much prefer pork 'n beans but always loved the pronunciation= vi-een-a sausage just has a nice ring to it!