Photo: jeffreyw

Friends of Southern Living, please sit down, for I have shocking news. I hate raw tomatoes, as well as four other iconic Southern foods.

I've hidden these feelings for years for fear of the mass condemnation and disdain that revealing them would surely elicit. But today, all the lies must end. I go public in hopes that others like me who have suffered in silence will know they are not alone.

What is it about Southerners and raw tomato, anyway? You can't go into a single fast-food joint or restaurant of any kind and order a burger or sandwich without having it topped with a tomato slice that you didn't ask for. I don't get it. They don't add a slice of pickled herring or farm-raised nutria, do they? They don't lather your lunch with Marmite or castor oil. So why make an exception for tomato? This is tyranny! I say we should have an opt-in tomato policy, not an opt-out. It's a matter of simple human rights.

emBoiled peanuts. Man, that looks nasty! Photo: Charles Haynes/em

I hate boiled peanuts too. The very name sounds gross and the end product is worse. Boiled peanuts are disgusting gobs of slime melted in oil and sold to you in paper sacks from a roadside stand that also sells worms. (Hope you get the right sack.) And what's with the sign, "Boiled P-Nuts"? Does the painter charge extra for the "e" and "a"? Guess we better get ready for signs hawking "T-Bags," ‘B-Pollen," and "Z-Bras."

That last sign is talking about animals.

emGrits. Bleh -- feed 'em to the horses. Photo: jm3/em

Grits? Well, you can kiss mine, but I won't eat ‘em. This is one food the British – purveyors of the world's worst cuisine – and I agree on. Grits should be reserved for horses. They're tasteless, which is why everybody drowns them in molten cheese and butter. Give my grits to Mister Ed.

emShe's not too sweet and she doesn't have seeds. I'll take the girl.  Joe Schlabotnik/em

Let's move on to watermelon, which the dictionary defines as "a large, pink sponge of sugar-water filled with seeds." Judy, my Birmingham-born-and-raised wife, spends most summer days consuming a 10-pound melon and then bellowing over her bloated belly like a python that's scarfed down a wildebeest. I do not understand this addiction. To me, nothing is more insipid and devoid of nuance and character than watermelon juice. Flavored oxygen is champagne by comparison.

emPork rinds. What pigs were made for. Photo: lisatozzi/em

This brings me to the worst Southern staple of all. The pork rind. Only starving people could have thought of this. Lemme see, you take pig skin, a by-product of the lovely lard-making process, cut it into bite-size pieces, fry them in grease, package them in bags, and sell them as snacks to folks too proud to eat snouts. Count me out. No pickled feet either.

Southern Living readers, I hope we can still be friends. I like BBQ. I like fried okra. I like tater salad and cole slaw. I like black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. I like football. I like beer. I like bourbon. I like sweet tea with lemon. I like peach cobbler. I like Lynard Skynard. All I ask is that you refrain from putting raw tomato on my sandwich.

How many of the oppressed stand with me?