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The food of Southern USA

If you're looking for some comforting soulful cooking - the South is where you'll find it.

20 May 2010

The food of the South is a fusion of eras and cultures.

Slave influences
To this day the food of the slaves still plays a major role in the cuisine of the South and okra, yams, aubergines, sesame seeds, peanuts and black eyed peas still form part of American cuisine today.

The food of the Indians was accepted so quickly that corn porridges, pumpkins, squash, lima beans, wild berries, meat and fish cooked over open fires as well as hearty game stews became the basis of a new culinary tradition.

Soul food, Creole cooking and Cajun spices have become popular in recent years as are the deep pit barbecues of the Caddo, the Choctaw and the Seminole Indians.

Common ingredients
Dairy products, eggs, sugar and flour products originated in Europe but the full southern breakfast is simply an improvement on the British and ‘Tex-Mex’ is the combination of Mexican and tribal cuisine.

Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, okra, maize, rice, beans, peas with venison and pork and beef were cooked in kettles with figs, oranges, grapes, pecans and plums for dessert.

At first, Cajun food was bland and boiled but because sugar and molasses were available locally, these were used at almost every meal, like cornbread topped with molasses.

The Choctaw Indians introduced file (a herb made from sassafras leaves and ground into a powder) which is now used to thicken gumbo (nowadays corn flour is also used).

Creoles love sweet things and a pecan tart is par for the course.

In the south, a barbecue is usually made with pork in the east, and beef in the west.

" Pig picking " is a holiday get-together (mainly in Virginia and Carolina) where a whole hog is barbecued.

Here's a list of the typical dishes that one could choose if you visited:

Southern Louisiana
- Crawfish and hot sauce.

North and South Carolina - ask for Hoppin John (made from rice, black-eyed peas and salted pork) and Charleston Red Rice. There’s also a traditional type of barbecue to try in this region – in fact most regions have their own speciality barbecue.

Virginia - the Smithfield ham is a must followed by apple pie, and if you're still peckish, buy a bag of peanuts.

Oklahoma - the most important thing to try is cornbread and beans as well as the breakfast dish - biscuits and gravy.

Mississippi - farm-raised catfish from the traditional “fish houses” are a must.

will probably serve you the best rice pudding you’ve ever eaten.

- prides itself in its country ham.

Maryland - ask for blue and soft-shell crabs and the Smith Island Cake.

Florida is home of the Key lime pie and swamp cabbage.

Kentucky is famous for Burgoo and beer cheese.

Texas chilli is legendary, and the Brunswick stew originated in the eastern parts of the South.

Classics like fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, mint juleps, fried dill pickles, bread pudding and boiled peanuts (a seasonal snack that’s super no matter where you live) are pure southern comfort food.

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