My buttermilk biscuits will never be the same. Nor will my buddy, Jay's, awesome Mexican cornbread. I can kiss that skillet of goodness good-bye. Why? White Lily, the grand dame of Southern baking, has, like Elvis, left the building. Parent company, J.M. Smucker, transfered the original production facility from Knoxville, TN to plants in the Midwest. (White Lily's previous owners, C.H. Guenther & Sons retained ownership of the Knoxville location.) The reality of the situation has set in and everyone -- from home cooks to gourmet chefs to the food editors of just about every newspaper around -- is lamenting the "passing."
To their credit, the new White Lilly owners posted a warm and fuzzy "note on our commitment to consumers" on their website assuring shell-shocked, ahem, long-time customers that everything is a-okay and that nothing--from ingredients to production--has changed. (Remember that scene at the end of "Animal House" where Kevin Bacon is screaming the same thing? It was anything but okay.)
The note is all well and good, but if my Mema (God bless her) were still alive, she'd a hopped into her powder blue Dodge Dart with the white vinyl top and made a bee-line for Strawberry Lane and the front doors of Smucker's Ohio headquarters. Company executives would have been on the receiving end of an emotional plea suggesting that no rash or hasty decisions be made until the baking needs of every White Lily-using man, woman, and child living south of the Mason-Dixon had been considered.
But balance sheets and Wall St. trump loyal customers every time. Way it goes, I reckon. "Get over it, Jones," my non-Foodie buddies tell me. They're sick of hearing my gripe; but they just don't understand the singular uniqueness of White Lily flour. I'm still in the grieving stage (Cue up Debussy's "Claire de Lune" real loud).
In honor of White Lily, here's one of my favorite recipes for Buttermilk Biscuits (and don't miss all the yumilicious variations)
I'm sure y'all have a favorite or two, so please share them with me and the other's who read this blog. Thanks in advance!