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  • Writer's pictureSarah Davis

Hummingbird Cake, Bless Your Heart, and Charming Southern Romance by Jess B. Moore

Where are you from? I grew up in the south, and by that I mean the deep south. For most of my life, I have lived in Louisiana, Florida (the panhandle, right up next to the Alabama state line), and North Carolina. If you aren’t from down here, you might not realize, but there are different degrees of southern. Louisiana for instance is a whole different kind of southern than North Carolina.

Do you remember in the movie Sweet Home Alabama when Reece Witherspoon’s character says, “you need a passport to come down here”? It’s like that.

I’ve also lived in Ohio and Arizona, and I’ve visited many parts of our country. Leaving the south just gives me an appreciation for coming back home. Folks really are nicer, the pace really is slower, and the food is a culture of its own.

All six of my books are set in North Carolina, and are infused with southern food, sayings, and ways of living. In particular, I’ve mentioned the most amazing cake!

Hummingbird Cake

Although originating in Jamaica, food historians agree the first printed recipe for Hummingbird Cake was by Mrs. L H Wiggin (of Greensboro, North Carolina) in Southern Living magazine (February 1978). It has been a southern staple ever since, and remains the magazines number one most popular recipe of all time.

Click here for a “healthier” version:

Print that out, wipe the drool from your face, and get ready for some of my favorite southern phrases, starting with the infamous bless your heart.

If you Google bless your heart, it will tell you it’s used to express fondness or sympathy for someone. Yes, well, that’s only half the truth. It can be said nicely, and meant sincerely. However, you’re far more likely to hear those words uttered in absolute passive aggressive sassitude. The speaker likely thinks you’re sweet but not very smart.

Here’s a quick lesson on the words/phrases we say down here:

Y’all. Yep, all the time, and even more now because it’s so inclusive.

Fixin’ to. Again, yep. I forget that’s it isn’t normal until some non-local points it out and we have a good laugh.

Carry me to the store. Carry me means drive me or take me.

Quit being ugly. Ugly means rude or bad behavior.

Coke. All soda is called coke. If someone asks you for a coke, they’re asking you which kind of soda you want.

My aunt just the other day said she was up to her ass in alligators. I just said something about having a bee in my bonnet. If you come across things like this in books or movies, rest assured they are true.

Are there any you’ve heard and wondered if we really speak that way? Ask me, and I’ll let you know.

What’s this have to do with charming southern romance? Everything, of course! I write books, and I write them about the places I love. Right now, that’s North Carolina (despite the north in the name, it’s decidedly southern!). There are SIX books out in my Fox River Romance series, and they are all set in a fictional, quirky, quaint, small town, and all dripping with southern charm.

Discover more about Jess at

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