Originally Posted by Archibald
If Doc could specifically address my commentary on “soup beans” and “red eye gravy” I would greatly appreciate it; as I would hate to be accused of being like Neil Young in my improper address of southern culture.
Certainly: What you seem to miss about these two dishes is that both are the result of specific cultural circumstance. Your stated objection to soup beans is that bean dishes are common, and done much better elsewhere. But the former implies that bean soups can never be representative of a specific cuisine, which is nonsense, and the latter is purely your subjective personal opinion. Soup beans and red-eye gravy reflect a common-sense approach to food, one that maximizes limited available resources by using small amounts of exceptionally flavorful ingredients. This is one of the key identifiers of Southern food -- cuisine, if you will.
Take, for example, cornbread. Lots of cultures have some version of it. But most Southern cornbreads are savory, not sweet, like versions found elsewhere in the U.S. This is a direct reflection of the society that produced it. Sugar was expensive, and unavailable, so the people made do with what they had. Similarly, cornbread is a staple on Southern tables because corn could be produced by even the smallest farms. It is true home-grown food, and I have yet to find an identical version elsewhere.
Southern foods, in general, show remarkable adaption in the face of adversity. They are simple, and their hallmark is that a few ingredients are made into something delicious and filling. You dismiss them for this reason, but I salute them for it. If anything, that you and others do not share the "taste" for these foods reflect just how unique they are. They are very much a product of their place and time; and what better definition of a cuisine?