Cooked: Southern Style

Southern cuisine is known for serving big meals and frying anything. Each area in the South has some unique way of preparing a dish or creating something that is native to that area. Then there is the cuisine that is altogether weird and just plain out there. The first food that is often associated with the South is grits. According to, “Grits are small broken grains of corn. They were first produced by Native Americans centuries ago. They made both ‘corn’ grits and ‘hominy’ grits. The corn is dried to a 14% moisture content, then each kernel is cleaned with forced air. The kernels of grain are run through the mill stone where they are ground to a certain texture and then sifted through two wire mesh screens.” Usually eaten as breakfast, grits can be topped with cheese, butter, syrup, garlic, milk and sugar or made into a casserole. Over half of the world’s grits are sold in the “grit belt” which stretches from Louisiana to North Carolina. South Carolina even declared grits as its state food in 1973. Another breakfast food is biscuits and gravy. Most often created entirely from scratch, the white gravy usually contains sausage and the biscuits are made with buttermilk. Though this dish can be eaten on its own, many restaurants serve it with bacon and eggs. When it comes to tea, the South serves it cold and sweet. Because of its easy recipe and long tradition, tea in the South is made and consumed in large quantity. When someone orders tea in a restaurant in the South, the drink is generally thought of as sweet. Outside of the southern region, tea is generally unsweetened or black. Hooch, Mountain Dew, Gut Rot or White Lightning are all names for one of the South’s most controversial drinks: moonshine. Though illegal, moonshine continues to be distilled because of its simple ingredients and its high profitability. However, moonshine consumers run a high risk of lead poisoning because stills are created using car radiators, lead piping, and other spare parts. In the South, having a barbeque has become as common as drinking sweet tea. Each year there are hundreds of BBQ cook-offs that test cooks who claim to be the best. Though BBQ is often pork, it can also be chicken or steak with a special blend of spices. According to NBBQ, “The three essential elements of barbecue are: Good meat, the process of slow cooking at a low temperature, and the fuel used for heat and flavor. Barbecue taste and preference is pretty well regionalized nationwide. When one says the word ‘barbecue’ in the Southeast, the image of pulled-pork with sauce comes to mind.” As unique as the person creating it, barbecue caters to various tastes across the US. In the South, it is a common tradition to fry almost anything. Chicken has become the most common fried food because it can be formed into nuggets, fingers, popcorn, or patties and be dipped into various sauces. Then there are the vegetables like okra and fried green tomatoes. Finally there are the weird fried foods like Twinkies, Dill Pickles, Coca-Cola, Oreos, Cheesecake and Cheeseburgers. Many people consider Southern cuisine to be overcooked or made from scratch. Yet cooking is unique to the person. Though Southern foods can be served anywhere, they are part of the heritage and tradition of the South.