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Take a guess.

Southern women know what they like. When they glimpse, taste, or happen upon something that pleases them, they must find out about it.

“What’s your recipe?” is perhaps the best compliment anyone can receive from a Southern lady, because, by and large, Southern ladies know their way around a kitchen. If you’ve whipped up something they haven’t already mastered—or don’t already have a better recipe for—you have done something great. Notable, even. And the Southern lady whom you have surprised needs that recipe, stat.

Similarly, if the Southern lady in question is showing an interest in your shoes, your hat, or your pocketbook, you can go ahead and take it as a compliment. “Where’d you find those shoes?” “Where can I buy that purse?” “What’s that lip color?” —all great compliments from Southern ladies. That’s because most Southern ladies have taste, and when they see something they like, they know it. Then they proclaim it. Usually that proclamation is followed by an inquiry, which is then followed by procuring said items for themselves—and, of course, adding said items to their own closets, vanities, and recipe boxes, and sometimes even gifting those items to their sisters and best friends.

If you receive any of these compliments from Southern women, you should return them as soon as possible. A thank-you note is always appropriate, as is a return volley of, “And your beautiful scarf—where did you get it?” If you really want to secure your place in a Southern lady’s good graces, gift her what she desires: a copy of that recipe, her own silver bracelet, or a remark on her impeccably good taste, which she’ll politely and modestly de-emphasize, but which will always make her smile.

On the other hand, if you’ve received that greatest of compliments—i.e.: someone has asked about your recipe—there are times when you just can’t bring yourself to share it. If it’s a family-secret ambrosia and you’re sure you’ll be disowned if you put pen to paper, then point the inquirer to the nearest Southern Living recipe. (We’re sure to have one, and she’ll be just as pleased, we can assure you.)

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What’s your favorite Southern compliment to employ in conversation? Have you had any elegant Southern ladies ask you about your recipes or style lately?