August 14, 2018  •  Ali  •  Articles - Magazines

Jennifer is featured on the cover of the September issue of Southern Living magazine.

Ask Jennifer Garner what she remembers about growing up in the South (she is from West Virginia), and she will probably mention food. More specifically, her mother’s cooking. For Jennifer, like so many other Southerners, food represents more than just a meal at the table. It’s a time to gather as a family. It’s a way of passing down recipes from generations. Food is love.

SL: What do you want your kids to know about this farm?

JG: I want them to know that my mother was happy and free on the farm. I want them to know that you don’t need things to keep you occupied. I think that the only real way to understand a concept like that is to live it, so I guess we’d better head to the farm more often!

SL: The best lesson your mother taught you about food:

JG: That food is love. My mother took pride in feeding our family, always tried to make it fun, always made it fresh and hot. She would pick me up from dance class and then transport me to theater rehearsal with a plate of something warm from the oven. That’s one of the most consistent and loving things she did for me.

SL: How are you passing down what you learned to your own kids?

JG: I try not to battle with them about food. They are not nearly as finicky as I was, but their pickiness still drives me nuts. I do my very best to take my cues from my mom and put good food in front of them and let it be from there. I am not always successful. Oh—and I also try to have a plate of fresh cut-up veggies on the counter for them to munch on while I am finishing dinner. Mom did that too.

SL: Do you ever dream of coming home to the South? (By the way, your parents did not make us ask this question—promise!)

JG: I could easily and happily live on a farm in the South or anywhere that had enough family nearby to feel like the South. I hope to own a home in West Virginia someday, but right now, the kids and I are so happy to go home to Grandmom and Granddad’s house that I am not in any rush.

Family, Friday night football, Mama’s fried chicken. Those are just a few of the items that usually make the short list for Southerners when they talk about their childhoods, whether it be growing up in a big city or a small town. There are certain memories that are made that we just can’t forget. Memories that we would love to recreate when we are mothers or grandmothers of our own. Here, Jennifer Garner shares some of her favorite memories of growing up in West Virginia.

SL: So, what’s your fondest memory of growing up in West Virginia?

JG: The friendliness and patience of Southerners. When I first moved to New York City, my hand almost fell off from waving at every person I passed on the sidewalk—because that’s how I had been raised. I really believe the more people you make eye contact and share a smile with, the happier and more connected you feel.

SL: And you still miss…

JG: West Virginia’s warm summer nights—and fireflies. I miss the easy sense of community (although, with a little effort, you can build that for yourself anywhere). I also miss songbirds at the bird feeder, pickup trucks on the road, and high school football games on Friday nights.

SL: Favorite meal growing up:

JG: Mom’s roast chicken, rice, and gravy with hot homemade rolls. Notice that I didn’t mention anything green—I didn’t eat anything green until I was an adult. There was probably a fruit crumble afterward too—and ice cream.

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