Lately, I have read many blogs and comments about Mississippi’s image. Those who laugh at Mississippi without knowing her treasures, I smile at their ignorance. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a hidden treasure. Once you stumble upon it, you’ll never want to leave. So what is it that makes the Gulf Coast so wonderful?
1. The Butter. This is not just any type of butter. It is a magical delicious kind of butter used solely for the fresh shrimp, craw fish and fish that come straight from the boats to your kitchen grill. Fresh seafood can be bought from almost any corner. In fact, the local grocery store has an outside place just for eating your craw fish. Salty, yet sweet. Spicy, yet not burning. Warm, but not scalding. The butter is the perfect combination with the salt water creatures, which there is plenty of. It’s not uncommon for families to gather around a huge table and just peel their crustacean and eat all day.
2. The Beach. Year round, the beach is minutes from any given place on the Coast (obviously) but also, never crowded. No parking fees, no screaming kids, no overly drunk people invading on your towel space. It’s an oasis and it’s the best kept secret. (Shhhhh!) The nearby islands are often filled with locals who sail, paddle, or put-put-put on their motor boats out there. The blue and pink sun rises are met with early morning dog walkers, and exercise fanatics. The most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen can make any person with a camera feel like a professional. However, the water side doesn’t end at the Gulf. It’s not uncommon to find fishers casting their nets out by the bayous, rivers or other wetlands that Mississippi is compromised of.
3. The Culture. Often, this surprises people that the state that has such a bad rap for being poor, racist, and fat could have any kind of culture. It’s ironic because the coast is overflowing with culture. Mississippi itself has produced numerous world wide famous artists- Peter and Walter Anderson, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and countless others. Each town has its own unique story. Biloxi- the small fishing village become a casino tourism town; Ocean Springs- the cute and quaint town that has remained quaint complete with a small oak covered downtown that provides everything from clothing, to art, to pastries, to doughnuts made from potatoes (a town favorite and a delicious classic). Pascagoula- the town built on the bayous. Drive a boat down the pascagoula river and admire some of the finest houses that Pascagoula has to offer. The South also provides a different kind of culture to its youth. No, we are not hand fed bigotry and racism but rather, manners such as yes ma’ams and no sirs. In this sense, Mississippi has not lost it’s pre-civil war charm. The pearls, porches, sweet tea, and southern drawls did not die in the war. It’s vibrant and alive on the Coast.
4. More Food. Bbq, seafood, cookies and cakes.The Southern hospitality has not been lost and it’s expressed through good cooking. Mississippi takes pride in her food.That’s another thing: Pride. Although we are badgered left and right for all of our problems (obesity, teenage pregnancy, smoking, poverty, etc.), you’ve never felt such hope for a state. We are number one in charitable givings. Not just the amount we give, but the percent of our income that it comes out of. The Fourth of July evokes tears and patriotism like you’ve never seen.
5. The Location. Just around the corner in any direction is a new place to discover with a totally different feel. Head to New Orleans for Jazz on the French Quarter, or in deeper to Louisiana for tours of huge antebellum plantation homes. On the other side, find your happy place by going to Florida for that bright, bright sunshine and crowded beaches because, let’s be honest, crowded beaches just have that whole “i’m living the life” atmosphere.
5. The Resilience. That happy-go-lucky life style found on the Coast is not just due to good times. The people of the Gulf Coast have suffered and suffered hard. Everyone has a Katrina story. When Katrina wiped out their homes, and jobs, the Coast joined together to help one another. It’s said to be the worst storm to ever hit America and in less than ten years, the Coast has bounced back from nothing to being stronger than ever. The occasional empty concrete slab and house-less staircase is the only reminder of how far we’ve come.
The Gulf Coast is a treasure that keeps on surprising and I love it.