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Southern Food Appreciation Thread

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by edinatlanta, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. greekonomist

    greekonomist Senior member

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    I was in the southern US for independence day two years ago, and was entertained by a good ol' black southern family who fed me mac and cheese, fried chicken, and other assorted goodies.

    It was fantastic. I love the south.


    Is mac and cheese considered Southern Food?
     
  2. MrG

    MrG Senior member

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    Is mac and cheese considered Southern Food?

    The baked version is very popular down here, and it's ubiquitous in Southern/Soul Food restaurants. I don't know if it would qualify exclusively as "Southern Food," but it's definitely a staple of the cuisine.
     
  3. Grayland

    Grayland Senior member

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    I was born and raised in southeastern Virginia, but currently reside in upstate New York. I lived for 5 years in Savannah, Georgia and 2 years in Houston, Texas (where I was a cook/chef in a nice restaurant and a hotel). For the last 14 years, I've taught culinary arts. You could basically say that my life is food. It's everything to me.

    I honestly do think Southern Cooking is one of the great cuisines in the world, but is often mis-characterized. Fried food (other than chicken) is not the norm. Chicken-fried steak is more of a Texas thing, which is almost it's own cuisine. The cuisine actually reminds me a lot of Italian food:
    polenta=grits
    kale/broccoli rabe=collard/turnip greens
    proscuitto=country ham
    cannellini beans=black-eyed peas

    In addition, I've found kindred spirits in the many Italians I've met in the North. They are as passionate about cooking as my family has always been. I've never once spoken to my Mom (by phone) when we didn't ask each other what we've eaten lately. We eat lunch and talk about what wer're planning for dinner. Vacations are built around our meals. Talk to anyone of heavy-duty Italian heritage and they will talk of Sunday suppers that lasted all day. Food is a true passion in the South. I believe it even bridges racial divides. While people like to stereotype Southerners as inherently racist, the fact is that there is very little difference between Southern food and soul food. They are basically one and the same. I've cooked some pretty nice dinners/functions in my life, but my proudest culinary moment occured in a hotel in Virginia. I was responsible for soups and made Brunswick Stew as the soup of the day. At lunch, the housekeepers (all African Americans) came to get the employee meal. They could get the employee selection (usually a sandwich or pasta), but when they found out Brunswick Stew was the soup of the day, they quickly consumed several gallons. After that day, this white boy was considered a serious cook!

    I won't bother listing all the great Southern dishes. There are many and the fact that most people have an idea of Southern food when its mentioned says a great deal about it. What is Northern food? What is Pacific Northwest food? What is Mid-West food? I know what they are as food is my life, but most people couldn't really define these cuisines. Southern cuisine is known to almost all, even if it's only the poor examples of KFC or Cracker Barrel.

    I also think that many/most people like the food they grew up with. Most of us consider our Mom's meatloaf or marinara to be the gold standard even though it might not be real good. Most people consider the pizza or the wings they grew up on to be the best, when it probably isn't. If you don't like Southern cuisine, you probably can't be convinced. If you grew up on Southern cuisine, then nothing can ever replace it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Agnacious

    Agnacious Senior member

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    I think some people associate southern cooking with fried everything from the chicken to the water. I consider this food slop and do not think of it as southern, though there is a fair share of it. True southern food is very good and does not revolve around eating seasoned fried batter.

    I lived in New Orleans for a couple of years and had fried food maybe once (I think it was a soft shell crab). Now I want some crawfish etuffee or boudin.

    Ahh, Grayland beat me to the fried food/southern classification.
     
  5. NakedYoga

    NakedYoga Senior member

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    Shrimp and grits are pretty good. I didn't like plain grits when I tried them. . . . I hate sweet tea and have many scarring stories to tell.
    +1. I've lived in the South my entire life (North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina), and the food is just incredible. I think shrimp & grits would be my last meal if I had to choose. You didn't like "plain" grits? You gotta throw in cheese, butter, and pepper... sometimes a bit of diced bacon! One cool thing about shrimp & grits, and Southern food in general, is that a seemingly basic plate can wildly vary from place to place (e.g., BBQ in Tennessee is nothing like BBQ in South Carolina). The best shrimp & grits I've ever had was at the Boathouse in Charleston. Unfortunately, the downtown location is now up for sale due to the economy. [​IMG] Charleston has also got quite a culinary heritage, both with traditional Southern foods and other regional/international cuisines. And I agree with those who have said that Southern food is not defined by being deep fried. Sure, everyone loves good fried chicken or fried okra, but the real defining characteristic is essentially the great interplay of flavors and ingredients. And, of course, the culture/hospitality experience adds to the effect. I'm also not a fan of sweet tea. Does that make me a bad Southerner?
     
  6. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    I'm also not a fan of sweet tea. Does that make me a bad Southerner?
    I'm not a fan of sweet tea either. I drank it a lot growing up in the South, but lost interest in all sugared drinks as the years went by.
     
  7. Tardek

    Tardek Senior member

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    Is mac and cheese considered Southern Food?

    The baked version is very popular down here, and it's ubiquitous in Southern/Soul Food restaurants. I don't know if it would qualify exclusively as "Southern Food," but it's definitely a staple of the cuisine.

    I have to admit that I don't know, as I've only been once. I sort of assumed, because the only other times I've ever had mac and cheese is when I haven't had time to cook real food.

    And yes, to the sweet tea thing. Yuck, what a travesty! Sweet, cold tea indeed! [​IMG]
     
  8. tdangio

    tdangio Senior member

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    Sweet tea is great.
     
  9. danilo

    danilo Senior member

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    Having been raised in the south Florida and now living in Atlanta. I gotta say southern cooking is damn good.
    Best southern meal I've had was at a spot in downtown Atlanta (now closed) it was called the depot, it used to be a train station depot and it had a real cool laid back atmosphere.

    They made a fried catfish in corn meal, with a side of cheddar cheese grits and spinach cooked in a way I can't remember. It was delicious.

    Either way, it wouldn't be hard to make this at home. Try it!
     
  10. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan Senior member

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    I love the ingredients - tupelo honey, Apalachicola oysters, mayhaw jelly, key limes, grouper, mullet, stone crab, gator tail, vidalia onions, ruskin tomatoes, pecans, blueberries.

    Fried pickle chips are awesome too.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. danilo

    danilo Senior member

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    I miss living by Daytona Beach... [​IMG]
     
  12. ctrlaltelite

    ctrlaltelite Senior member

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  13. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    +1You didn't like "plain" grits? You gotta throw in cheese, butter, and pepper... sometimes a bit of diced bacon!

    ...

    I'm also not a fan of sweet tea. Does that make me a bad Southerner?


    Or red eye gravy!

    And yes, you fail as a Southerner.

    Best southern meal I've had was at a spot in downtown Atlanta (now closed) it was called the depot, it used to be a train station depot and it had a real cool laid back atmosphere.

    They made a fried catfish in corn meal, with a side of cheddar cheese grits and spinach cooked in a way I can't remember. It was delicious.


    The Depot is now just an entertainment venue. It hosts the legislature's annual Wild Hog Supper and many lunches and suppers for legislators, paid for by lobbyists, during the General Assembly.
     
  14. greekonomist

    greekonomist Senior member

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    Or red eye gravy!

    The biggest problem I have is figuring out what stuff is. Like what is red eye gravy? I've never had it.


    I just remembered having a sandwich that was fried oysters on a hoagie roll. That was pretty great. But I have no clue as to its provenance.
     
  15. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The biggest problem I have is figuring out what stuff is. Like what is red eye gravy? I've never had it.


    I just remembered having a sandwich that was fried oysters on a hoagie roll. That was pretty great. But I have no clue as to its provenance.

    Po' boy.
     
  16. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    The biggest problem I have is figuring out what stuff is. Like what is red eye gravy? I've never had it,

    gravy made from the drippings of pan fried country ham
     
  17. greekonomist

    greekonomist Senior member

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    Po' boy.

    That's it! Thanks.


    Also, hush puppies rock.
     
  18. greekonomist

    greekonomist Senior member

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    gravy made from the drippings of pan fried country ham
    Works for me. I'll have to try it. Country ham = Virginia ham, no? Edit: I always imagined it had something to do with coffee.
     
  19. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    Works for me. I'll have to try it. Country ham = Virginia ham, no?

    Edit: I always imagined it had something to do with coffee.


    Yes i forgot you mix in some coffee too. And yes country ham is va ham.
     
  20. jpeirpont

    jpeirpont Senior member

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    Friday fish fries were great as a kid, no one seems to do it anymore though. Fried bass, carp, blue gills, white bread, red hot sauce and Sam Cooke. Good times.
     

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