Prepare yourselves....dumb question coming up!

agnespuffinJanuary 20, 2012

I hang around on a travel forum because I know a pretty good bit about this old hometown of mine....I even manage to give some good advice now and then.

But I have a question.

What do people expect when they say, "we want a authentic Southern experience. Real Southern food."

Are we THAT peculiar? What do they expect?

So the question I ask is: What is real Southern Food?

(not like Paula Deen's with tons of sugar and butter)

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Oh gosh, that's not a dumb question. I suspect that authentic regional food has been the victim of National restaurant chains. There are chains with stereotypical regional foods, but they fall short. I could surely understand the desire to experience an area's traditional foods, it's a large...........very large part of the feel of an area.

There is going to be a very diverse idea of what constitutes southern food, depending on what part of the South you would visit. Some of the areas I'd consider Southern where I've lived, some deep suthrun natives would consider Up Noth.

Also consider how many people have followed jobs south and aren't native where their food tastes and traditions are concerned. I suspect if you look at what is produced locally, you're gonna get a general idea of a regional food.

My Mama's g'ma who raised her....their family came from the Blue Ridge Mountain area. I know it influenced her cooking throughout her life.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 7:51PM
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I have no idea what real or authentic southern food is, But I suspect that it is just like all foods, it depends on the region where the food is grown and available.
I have a fond memory of my first visit to a grocery store in DC where I saw all the colorful leafy veggies for the first time and someone explained that it was southern food.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 8:47PM
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O come on! It's not a dumb question. It's just a simple question.Some real Southern Foods are well known. Like,
Mississippi Mud Pie,Pork Chop Dinner.

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    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Never had Mississippi Mud Pie in my entire life. Don't even know what it is.

And if a Pork Chop Dinner is a floured and fried chop with pan gravy served with rice, I guess that would do.

To me, real southern food would be collard and turnip greens instead of spinach. Field peas, crowder peas, corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes, new potatoes in the spring, and of course, grits.

Real grits, not the kind they serve up north that's made by soaking the corn in lye water, (that's hominy grits) but the kind where the father would take the dried, mature corn to the mill, grind it, and bring it back home. None of that fancy-smancy soaking. Takes too long.

I can see that if a person lives in an area where there is a lot of ethnic cooking (think about Italians, Greek, Mexican, Scandinavian, etc. )he/she might be looking forward to something a lot different than what they are used to.

Vegetables would be cooked long with a big hunk of fat back or a ham bone. Rice would be used more often than potatoes because they didn't have the cool vegetable cellars to store produce in either. Potatoes rot very quickly.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 1:45AM
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I had my first taste of grits in a family run diner somewhere on the road between VA and FL and I loved it. It was a soft mush with a golden color. I've been trying to find the same kind of grits again, but all I end up with is a white liquid mess. All grits are not the same.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 7:44PM
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You can buy yellow grits. It's usually ground by small companies and you probably won't find it in most supermarkets.

Do you suppose your grits was yellow because it had oops and gobs of butter in it? That does make a BIG difference in taste.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Speaking as a Southerner, who lived other places first: Grits, gravy, biscuits. Iced (hardly every hot) tea. Greens with bacon/pork fat. The ubiquitous cornbread, served two out of the three meals of the day. All vegetables overcooked. A least they were to me when I first moved here from CA. Fried meats served with more gravy. Gravy is a big thing here. The oddest one was when my younger sister and I both married boys from Southern/Central Tennessee and on Christmas, each of us going to our respective in-laws' homes, were served "chocolate gravy" and biscuits for breakfast?! I'll take my grits with a smidge of sugar sprinkled over them, thank you. Not a lot, not savory, and not with loads of butter.

Short answer: send them to your best meat and three.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Rob, I looked up meat and three and found a page that explains the concept and lists places.

Here is a link that might be useful: Meat and three.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 6:41PM
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I thought about this post last night as I was cooking supper. I had sausage gravy over home-made soda biscuits for supper. The iced tea..........might be different now, but when I was younger I don't think the concept of iced tea without sugar would have ever flown. Now the Nuthriners call it sweet tea and it's appearing on menus but that's how it was always served when we lived in the South. Sugar put in when the tea was hot. Not sweetened after the fact.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:54AM
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