Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Southern Survival 101: Food

Most of my readers do not live anywhere near Columbia, SC. I bet a lot of y'all have never been here, either.

Well, never fear. VB is here.

Ever since Meghan sent me a list of ways to know you are from her hometown of Pittsburgh, I have been trying to compile a similar list for Columbia. Which is easier said than done. You see, Columbia isn't all that large. We have only about 117,000 in the city limits. Living in a city that small means it's hard to separate South Carolina/Southern culture from Columbia culture. We have a lot of regional influence here. Guess I will have to start with General Southern Things. So if you want to know how to survive down here or how to make sense of our weird Southern quirks, keep reading.

Here we go. Er, wait. There is too much.

*Edit: Ok, this started to get really long. So I'm going to have to make this a series. This first part will be about food-related Southern culture. Mostly because 3/4 of our culture deals with food. The rest is football. But that's the next post.*

You probably already enjoy some Southern foods. Krispy Kreme donuts are Southern. KFC is, too. (And I ask you, "See why we are all fat????") We have tons of Waffle Houses and Bojangles here, too. Bojangles is like KFC, but better. Popeye's is another KFC competitor. And so is Church's -- obviously, we are pretty keen on fried chicken down here. Fried anything, really. At the state fair, you can get fried candy bars, fried oreos.....really, pretty much anything.

There must be a law which states, "Any gathering of four or more people, whether for business or pleasure, requires food to be served." -- It's not on the books, but it might as well be. Meeting? There's donuts. Your secretary's assistant's birthday? There's a cake. It's Friday? Someone brought chex mix. Going over to a friend's house just to see how she's doing? Yeah, she's going to feed you. Church? Tables of food spread out after service. See what I'm saying? And people wonder why SC is known for having overweight people. It's because we eat ALL THE TIME. Everyone from your mom to your neighbors to complete strangers are always trying to feed you. When I started writing this post, trying to think of Southern culture, I had a hard time thinking of non-food-related items. No joke.

If you ask for "tea", it's assumed you mean "ice tea" and it will be pre-sweetened. HEAVILY sweetened. With real sugar. Some places do not even have "unsweet" tea. You have to ask for it.

If someone asks you if you'd like a "Coke", they mean "a drink". So you have to specify. You can say "Oh, a diet Pepsi would be great!", "Miller Lite, please" or whatever. Just don't get upset if they say there is no alcohol in the house. A lot of people here are strict Baptists who don't drink. Oh, and ladies drink their beer from glasses, not bottles or cans. (Well, that's "old school", anyway.)

If I were to say "Southern Food", the first thing most of you would think of, after fried chicken, is probably BBQ. First things first. Down here, if you say, "We're having a BBQ at our house on Saturday!" and you invite your friends over, you'd better have some shredded pork laying around. Because if you're planning on serving burgers and hot dogs, you should be calling it a "cookout" or a "grill out". BBQ = piggy parts. No exceptions.

So, how does BBQ work? What all is involved in this process? First of all, never say, "Such-and-such restaurant has the best BBQ in town!" because you will inevitably get into an argument with everyone in the room. Everyone has a different favorite. Trust me, just don't go there. No one wins those arguments. Just ask where a good BBQ place is and listen to the locals. And don't get freaked out if the restaurant is full of flies or is dirty or greasy-spoon-ish. Those are usually the best ones. Trust me.

I would say that any authentic BBQ place is going to be buffet. Usually, it's all you can eat for between $6-10. And they probably don't take credit cards. I'll talk about what's on the buffet in a second. Let's talk about the star of the show first: the pig.

BBQ in the South, unless you are from Texas or Kansas, means pork. (Catfish is our other white meat, in case you're wondering.) We don't typically do beef BBQ here in the coastal states. Most places will BBQ a pig. A whole pig. Sometimes, it's smoked in a smoker. Sometimes it's cooked over a pit. It takes a long time. Several hours. Which is why there's always beer -- you drink as you wait for the pig to cook. Then, they shred most of the meat (ie, make it all stringy by ripping it apart). That's what goes on your sandwich/plate and gets doused with sauce. They also make BBQ ribs from the pig. Actually, just about every part of a pig is used up by the end, whether it's made into hash, pig's feet or whatever. More on hash in a second.

Big parties down here sometimes have what's called a "pig pickin'". When you go to a pig pickin', you will see a pig carcass. But that's good. The BBQ is super fresh and yummy. And since pig pickins feed crowds, there is going to be a lot of side dishes. Pig pickins are a good time. I would never turn down an invite to one of those.

Ok, what goes with shredded pork? First, sauce. Sauce is put into the meat after it's shredded, and before it goes on your plate. Then, you put more sauce on it before you eat it. (We are big on sauces here.) Now, there are several kinds of sauces. If you live in TN or TX, you have red sauce. This is ketchup-based. It's also what non-Southerners mean when they say "BBQ sauce". A lot of Texans don't put sauce on their beef BBQ, btw. Beef BBQ doesn't usually get sauce. It gets rubbed. But I'm not a Texan, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

If you live in NC, you have vinegar-based sauce. It is clear and colorless and often has red pepper flakes in it. It can be spicy and/or tangy. It's pretty good, too. If you live here in SC, you will see the yellow sauce. This kind is mustard-based. It's usually milder and sweeter than the others. Sometimes you'll see orange-colored sauce. I don't know what's in it, but it's good, too. I think it's a variation of the mustard sauce. In general, you can't go wrong. They all taste good.

I don't know what kind of sauce they use in GA, LA, AR, AL or MS. (Readers, help me!) I've heard Alabama uses mayo in their sauce. And LA has a lemony sauce. Don't know if that's correct, though.

Some places serve BBQ sandwiches on hamburger buns. In other places, you just get the meat directly on your plate, and you eat it with a fork. Also on the buffet, you will see: baked beans, mac n cheese, green beans, coleslaw, hush puppies (these are balls of sweet cornbread dough, deep fried. Often they have little onion bits in them. Crispy on the outside, sweet n oniony on the inside. They are friggin delicious. So delicious, that I always wrap some up in napkins and stick them in my purse to take with me.)....what else....

Sometimes you'll see collards or black eyed peas. Sometimes cornbread. Often you'll have fried chicken. Biscuits and grits make an appearance on buffets from time to time. Sometimes fried okra. Butter beans or creamed corn on occasion. I get excited when I see sweet potato casserole on the buffet. It kicks ass. As my dad would say, "Tastes just like candy!"

It is assumed that after you eat BBQ, your dessert will be banana pudding. That's just what it is. (Unless you are at a pot luck/church supper, in which case, it might be cake. In addition to banana pudding.) And it will be the best dang banana pudding you've ever had in your whole life. Man, I think they put crack in it down here....oh, sometimes you'll see peach cobbler on the buffet, too. But banana pudding is always there.

We don't have potatoes on the menus here. Well, we do, just not that often. We like mashed potatoes as much as everyone else. But our standard carbohydrate is rice. In a restaurant, if the menu says something comes with rice, you will need some clarification. White rice? Yellow rice? Red rice? Brown rice? Is it made with chicken stock? Is there gravy on it? Or hash?

Let's talk about hash for a second. Hash is found only in SC. And no, it's not like corned beef hash. It's nothing like it, actually. Basically, after you are done BBQing the pig, and you have shredded all the yummy meat off it, you chop up whatever's left over (organ meats, dark meat, mystery meat), cook it, and make it into a soupy, lumpy gravy. Then it's served over rice. Unless you know what you are doing, do not attempt to eat this junk. You have to grow up with it in order to find it appetizing. Personally, it makes me want to barf. Mostly because it looks like barf. Hash is for professionals, so don't try it at home.

Southerners eat collard greens, turnip greens or mustard greens. When uncooked, these veggies look like dark lettuce. They are boiled within an inch of their life, so they're mushy. Some people make them better than others. And when they're made right, they are really good. Kind of like how green beans are cooked with bacon pieces, and you can taste the bacon in it. Yeah. Like that. See? It's good. You should try it. Just get a good recommendation first. And if you want to make them at home, put an unshelled walnut in the pot as it's boiling or else your house will smell like greens. Ew. It's not a good smell, trust me.

We don't have goose or turkey for Christmas dinner. We have venison. If you've never had it, you should try it. It's like really lean, dark chicken meat. Very tasty. If you're from Virginia, like me, you might luck out and get a Smithfield ham for Christmas. This is not any ordinary ham, people. It is basically a block of salt, made to look like a ham. Ok, not really. It is meat. But dang, it is so freakin' salty. It is not juicy and light pink like a honey ham. It's not spiral-sliced, and there's no pineapple on it. It is dry and tough and dark red. You need a big, copper ham cooker in order to make it. It is fantastic if you slice it up and put the slices on little dinner rolls, with some mayonnaise. Mmmm! Approximately an hour after you eat it, you will feel you're dying of thirst, so you'll go to the kitchen and drink 3 gallons of water as fast as you can. Then you'll go eat more because, man, it's good stuff. The next day, your eyes will be all puffy from the salt.

Mayonnaise. Up north, it's Yankees vs. Red Sox. Down here, it's Duke's vs. Hellman's. You either come from a Hellman's family or a Duke's family. I happen to come from a Duke's family, which made it difficult when we lived in Indianapolis, as Duke's is not sold up there. Czarina had to special-order it by the case. Along with grits, which also were not sold up there.

We love us some mayo-based salads down here: potato, macaroni, crab, shrimp, egg, chicken...you name it. We make it into salad. Before eating it, people will ask you which mayo you used in it.

Down here, you have to keep your bread in the refrigerator or else it will get moldy after about 2 days. Also, you MUST hermetically seal anything sweet or else you'll get ants in your house. At times, I have kept my sugar in the fridge to avoid ant infestations.

Some Southern foods are rarely seen, but I know someone, somewhere down here is eating them, because I hear about it: squirrel, rabbit, pickled pig's feet, pork rinds, chit'lins, livermush and possum.

Some foods, like the Smithfield ham, are very localized.

For example, in SC, when you're on the coast (aka the Lowcountry), you want to try and find some Low Country Boil Down. This is made by getting a really REALLY big pot, bringing a bunch of water to a boil, and throwing in the following: red potatoes, corn on the cob, sliced kielbasa sausage, live blue crabs, shrimp and a bunch of Old Bay seasoning. Then you boil it all together, then drain out the water and go to town. It's very messy. Mmmmmm. Also on the coast you'll find oyster roasts and she-crab soup, which has a touch of sherry in it, if it's made properly.

In Virginia, peanut capital of the planet, we have peanut soup. Imagine runny, salty peanut butter. Yeah, I don't really like it. But Czarina loves it. It's hard to find.

In Louisiana, you can find lots of cajun food, which is scrumptious. They eat crawfish (aka crawdads) and gumbo. Good stuff. Also, they have pralines. OMG I dream of pralines: brown sugar, butter, pecans....*sigh* They really know food in LA. They also put chicory in their coffee, I think. It's good.

Kentucky has Mint Juleps and burgoo. I've never had burgoo, but it sounds like Brunswick Stew (see below). Mint juleps are full of bourbon, which is why my dad loved them. This is another highly sweetened, iced drink.

Only certain parts of the South (I think it's only found in VA and NC) have Brunswick Stew, a tomato-broth based stew with corn, lima beans, okra, shredded chicken, hot sauce and tomatoes in it. The Czarina has a fantastic recipe for this. It's low cal and filling. Served with cornbread. MAN. Good stuff.

Oh, I know another one. We are really big on boiled peanuts in the South. I'm not keen on them, but everyone else loves them. Very salty and mushy. Ick. Extremely popular snack.

If someone is bringing you a cake, you can assume it's a homemade pound cake. Box mix cakes are for when you're in a hurry, or if only kids are going to eat it. If someone's bringing you a pie, you can assume it's probably pecan or sweet potato, both of which are scrumptious. Peach pie is also very popular.

What else....oh yeah. If you order any of the following foods, you should assume they will be served to you fried: okra, zucchini, potatoes, chicken, green tomatoes, catfish, and shrimp. And if they're made "right", they are fried in bacon grease.

Let's talk breakfast. A typical Southern breakfast includes all or most of the following: eggs, bacon, grits, toast, biscuits, sausage, biscuits and sausage gravy, ham with red eye gravy and coffee or iced tea. Sometimes you'll see home fries or hashbrowns. If you're lucky, pancakes. Things like fruit or cereal or yogurt are not Southern.

Other foods you won't see/can't get/won't like down here include: Chinese food (ugh, we have terrible Chinese food here), decent pizza, Russian, German, Polish, Japanese, really good Italian (actually, it's just hard to find), French (unless you're in LA), Spanish, Portuguese and really, anything too exotic. So yes, Ethiopian is totally out of the question.

No one here knows what Cincinnati chili is. No one's ever heard of a pierogi. We probably have no idea what we are doing in the steak department. Cod and halibut are unheard of here. If you say "brown bread" then everyone thinks you're talking about whole wheat bread, not the molasses-based kind which is steamed and full of raisins. Few people make decent chili.

I can't speak for other Southern cities, but we have fantastic Mexican, Greek and Thai food here in Columbia. So there is hope. We're expanding, slowly. I think there's a Lebanese restaurant here somewhere.

Southern cuisine is by far my favorite, so I really enjoy that aspect of living here. But I miss frozen custard, beer and cheese soup, good pizza, Cincinnati chili, good Chinese takeout and schnitzel. I discovered all of these when I lived in Indiana. Oh well. I guess I can always find an online recipe.

Hungry? You should feel prepared to visit the South and get some decent vittles, now. Or at least know what the heck is going on.

Please add any comments about what I've said. Correct me if I'm wrong--RWA and Charming and any other Southern readers. Ask me any questions about all of this. If you want, I can try and find recipes for you, too. Next up: Football & Church.


Jonathan Zero said...

You have made me so hungry with this post. I grew up in Eastern NC but now live near Charlotte and a lot of the foods you mention I am very familar with. In eastern nc, at pig pickin's not only would there be banana pudding but pig pickin cake which is a cool whip manderin orange pineapple icing topped white cake that is absolutely divine. And homemade chocolate pie. So good. Cincinnati chili is fantastic. It used to be sold in Harris Teeter but I am guessing that not enough people around here bought it, just me probably.

Virginia Belle said...

ok, looking at it now, this post is entirely too freaking long. oh well.

jonathan-- yeah, i am craving sweet potato pie now. i have had that cake you're talking about. it's kind of like an italian cream cake. mmmmm. i miss harris teeter stores. they are only in NC, i think. good grocery store. if there is a steak n shake near you, they have cincinatti chili there. mmmmm. i bet you could find an online recipe, too.

Jonathan Zero said...

There are many steak and shakes around here. Will have to try their cinci chili. I have tried a few recipes that I found online but none match up to an old girlfriend's mother's recipe, not even Skyline. It would cook all day in a crockpot, be ready just in time for dinner. Wish I could get that recipe from her.

lenfercestlesautres said...

I love that column! It's really interesting!

* meish * said...

I feel oh so educated now. But I think I just gained 5 pounds from reading your post! Man, I've never craved pork and mayo more...

teahouse said...


I don't advertise this on my blog, but I'm from LA. South LA.

I make really good gumbo. And I eat 30 pounds of crawfish every Easter. We'll talk.

charming, but single said...

OMG. I am starving now, despite the fact that I have NO IDEA what half of these foods are. Weird people in South Carolina.

I think that the cuisine I eat is more Cajun/Creole than Southern. I have to admit that when we have a cook-out, we might grill burgers and chicken, but my dad also does pork ribs and sausage. So, um, probably not traditional barbeque like you’re talking about. And I haven’t been to a whole pig roast. Down hear we call that a couchon de lait. (Pronouced KOO-shawn de lay.) And I am totally grossed out at the thought of it. (I have had fresh chitlins though … they were, um, kind of icky.) People also think that boudin (pronounced boo-dan) is kind of icky, but man oh man it is good. It is sausage stuffed with rice. And if that isn’t good enough for you, we also roll it up and deep fry it. Mmmm. Boudin balls.

We eat a lot of seafood, because my Dad fishes like crazy.

When we’re having a big party or get together, we’re having jambalya, (my family says JUM-be-lie-uh) which is spicy rice cooked with chicken and sausage, or red beans and rice (kidney beans, sausage, served over rice), gumbo (seafood or otherwise) or something fried, probably fish, shrimp, oysters or a combination of the above. Or crawfish ettoufee (pronounced ay-two-fay), which is crawfish stew served over rice. (Oh! I forgot about shrimp and corn soup. And crawfish bisque.)

Seriously, you have not lived until you’ve eaten half your weight (or more) in boiled crawfish. Here’s what we do – live crawfish, corn, new potatoes and whatever spice your family uses. (My dad uses liquid cab boil, powder shrimp boil, cayenne pepper, whole fresh lemons and onions.) Additional add ins: sausage, whole garlic cloves, fresh mushrooms, artichokes. Each family does it a little different. After it is good and boiled, you spill it out over a table covered in old newspapers and eat eat eat. (Watch out for the fresh mushrooms and garlic – they float at the top with the leftover spice during the boil and DAMN they are spicy.) When you are little, your parents peel crawfish for you, but in my family you learn young to peel your own.

In my family, we fry a lot of fish for special occasions. My dad has a kettle for boiling oil over a propane burner. It is FANTASTIC. To make it extra special, in addition to cocktail sauce, tartar sauce and ketchup, my dad makes a cream-based sauced with either shrimp or crawfish and I am telling you that I would eat my own arm if it were covered in this spicy cream sauce.

Oh, desserts. Mississippi Mud, which is some sort of layered pudding and nuts or something that I don’t make, but I eat it with abandon. The aforementioned pralines, pecan pie, chocolate pie, tons of strawberries.

Did I miss anything? Probably.

OH! Teahouse … do you suck the heads? (‘Cause you know I have.)

CRAWFISH heads, people.

charming, but single said...

Wow. That comment was long.

I also want to warn you to TREAD LIGHTLY when you talk about football, because my mascot could physically dominate yours. :)

cmk said...

"Any gathering of four or more people, whether for business or pleasure, requires food to be served." So, that is a law down south? I thought that was a law my Finnish ancestors brought here when they came, because we Finns feel the exact same way! I remember as a child, there were certain households we ALWAYS wanted to visit because they put out such good stuff when the coffee was served!

While I don't 'enjoy'--hell, I don't eat at all--fish or seafood of almost any kind, I HAVE been served a stew/soup that U.S. Finns do enjoy: 'kala mojakka' or fish stew. I have been told--true or not, I don't know--that some people make the stew WITH the fish heads, too. ICK!

A fun, fun read. While we lived in Charleston, SC for a while, we never got into the local culture at all. We were too young, too homesick, and too military for that. :) I KNOW I would enjoy Charleston a lot more now that I am older. Hopefully, we will make the trip down there again some day.

tallglassofvino said...

I've spent a total of 6.9 years living in various spots of The South (INCLUDING Columbus, btw....) and my take away was a lifelong love of deep fried okra. (and chicken fried chicken, but that goes without saying). I STILL make black eyed peas every new year, and southern hospitality is so overwhelming that it's taken me years to realize that I DON'T HAVE TO EAT EVERYTHING. But I still do. HAH!

(good college friends of mine run THE BEST BBQ in northeastern Texas - dry county - and it gets a sauce on it while it cooks, and generally none when it's served. But they are rebels, so maybe they are bucking the local trend(s), you just never know. They DO serve baked beans with everything, though, so they're upholding SOME traditions!) [wink]

And I'm with Charming - now I'm friggin' STARVING!

Matilda Jane said...

boiled peanuts = south carolinian caviar.... mmmmm

Anonymous said...

This should be published as the definitive work on Southern Food. Having been born and raised in the South (by the grace of God I must add), you have covered our entire food pyramid. When I was in college at USC, I took a geography class which focused only on South Carolina. There was a chapter in our text book devoted to BBQ with a map showing how different regions of the State each have a preference for a particular sauce. The Upstate has tomato/ketchup based sauces, the Midlands prefers mustard based sauces and the Lowcountry likes vinegar sauces. I can’t wait for your take on football. There are only 101 more days until the Gamecocks kick off the season.

Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

OK so this comment is going to be long...just warning ya.

First of all, I'm so glad you did this! Fun times! Maybe I'll have to post my Pittsburgh one on my blog too.

I love friend chicken. In fact I love it so much that I would marry it if it were legal. I've been to a Bojangles before and I guess it wasnt my cup of tea. I think it was b/c I was so excited to eat there and built it up too much in my head...I liked the name. Did you ever see the SNL skit "Dog Show"? If you have, you'll know what I'm talking about. We recently got a Popeye's up by me, 5 minutes away in fact. I'm not too keen on it...I dont like spicy gravy.

I love how you say that a gathering of over 4 people constitutes food. Let me tell you how people starve when they come to my house. If I have a party I buy a keg and 2 bags of chips (one BBQ, one plain). After that peeps are on their own. Our standard protcol when someone comes over is to offer them a drink. This could mean beer, a cocktail, or just water.

And no one would probably eat anything anyways. Weight is a BIG issue up here, I think its the secret New Yorkers in all of us. Everything is low fat. Like if you make a taco dip, someone will ask if its made with low fat cream cheese. This kind of correlates with your mayonaise scenario.

McDonald's is selling sweet tea up here now. I don't get it. Although I'm going to have to try it, b/c I love me some sugar.

I never knew that about the drink/Coke thing! Very interesting! When people would ask me that i would always respond with "No, but do you have a diet coke?" So I have to ask, do you drink beer from a bottle or can?

I love the part about the BBQ, b/c I am such a mental midget when it comes to that. You see, the fam and I go to NC every year and there was a BBQ place by our beach house that I was dying to try. So the one night dad goes and gets some for the whole family...they were pulled pork sandwiches, and let me tell you how I love me some pulled pork. Well, I take one bite into it and spit it out. I had NO IDEA that they used that vinegar sauce and not the regular BBQ sauce I am used to..ewww!

What you call a pig pickin' we call a pig roast. We usually have them up at people's camps or out in fields when we were in college. You usually bring a keg of beer with you and sit out in the grass all day drinking and doing keg stands. Hush puppies are the shiznit. They're my favorite thing down south to eat, but I HATE any type of fish. I think that's why I eat meat on Friday during Lent. I'm going to hell.

We have two types of mayo here too: Hellmans and Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip really isnt mayo though. In fact I think the technical term for it is "salad dressing", but its lower in fat and calories, and I like the tang of it, so thats what I put on my sandwiches. Crab and shrimp salad sound yummy! Can you give me the recipe so I can make it with my Miracle Whip?

I think bugs are my biggest pet peeve about the south. I hate them. I believe an exterminator comes to the beach house every week to spray for roaches and other nasty little critters. Do you have to do that too?

WTF are chit'lins!?!?

Your breakfast sounds absolutely yummy! I want some now! Actually at some diners here, they have a "country breakfast", and its pretty much what you described. I get that when I feel like being a fat pig. Altough that sounds great, I can't live w/out cereal. I love bananas on top of it...yum!

And I know what you mean about the Chinese thing! I had that once in NC and it was G-R-O-S-S! Never again.

Good job on the post! I think I'm going to go and post mine too! Thanks for the inspiration! Can't wait to see more.

kimmykins13 said...

I was born in Virginia Beach, VA but shortly after we moved to the OBX in NC. I was raised down there but now live in VA.Bch. I grew up on Sweet Tea and NC Pit cooked BBQ. Brunswick Stew is huge in NC and my Mother makes it homeade, but there is a canned version of Brunswick stew that is made right outside of Richmond, Virginia called "Mrs. Fearnow's". If you can't get Mom's homeade, "Mrs. Fearnow's" will do. We had Turkey AND a Smithfield Ham every Christmas. The best way to eat Smithfield Ham is on Sunbeam or Mary Jane White Bread, crusts trimmed off, Hellman's Mayo (Yes, I was raised on Hellman's)and just the littlest bit of Mom's homeade sweet pickles diced up. Mmmm Mmmm, makes you wanna slap your Grandma. Pig Pickins were a regular in my family. My Grandfather even had his own Pig Cooker. Usually they would do a pig pickin/oyster roast. Lots of fun! I'm not big on collards but they were always made in my home and you are right - They stink up the whole house. Smells like dirty baby diapers. I will have to tell Mom about the unshelled walnut. I never heard of that. Maybe she will give it try. The only thing that I can think of food wise that you didn't mention in this post is Pimento Cheese. Nothing like homeade Pimento Cheese on white bread - and of course it has to contain the homeade pickles.

Coco said...

Ah, what a great post! It cracks me up, though--I think my family must be secretly southern . . .maybe because they came from southern Missouri? I don't know-but I would say the lion share of foods you talked about were staples while I was growing up. Now, we don't have them as much, as we have all become aware of "fat content" and "cholesterol" . . .but man, sometimes I just get a craving!

kimmykins13 said...

Oh, and they do have Harris Teeter in VA. too. Va. and NC only I think. I'm sorry you don't have them in SC. It's a really great grocery store - expensive, but great.

And you forgot Strawberry Shortcake. You cannot be Southern and not like Strawberry Shortcake.

sassafras said...

What a fabulous post! I just loved learning about southern food. Thanks VB!

Mieke said...

OMG!! I was just talking about how much I MISS Carolina BBQ!! The
NC style with vinegar spicy sauce and coleslaw on top!! Yummmmmmm... When we first moved to NC we were total southern virgins. We got invited to a BBQ expecting hamburgers and hot dogs. Instead we got a pig pickin' complete with hush puppies and the best bannana pudding EVER. It makes me salivate just thinking about it. God how I miss that. Can't find it anywhere here in San Diego. And it made me remember Goodberrys frozen custard. Do you have that in SC? I have never had that anywhere else either. So good. And Bojangles? Greasiest fried chicken ever and soo good. We always got that to take when we tailgated before
NC Hurricanes games. Good times.... Thanks for the fun and now I am really hungry. :)

Jonathan Zero said...

Meghan - If someone has already posted this, sorry for the duplication. Chitlins are the large intestines of a pig that have been prepared as food, most times fried. I have seen them in soups, boiled, baked and so on. I am from NC and I do not do chitlins but I know many people that really like them. Go figure.

RWA said...

Wow. That is a very impressive summary of food and how it relates to the South. I'll add just a couple of things:

1. People (here at least) do eat turkey at Christmas.

2. We have Brunswick Stew here in Alabama.

3. Your explanation of "Coke" in the South is dead on.

4. So is the clarification of "BBQ" vs. "cookout."

5. And the bit about tea. I remember the first time I went to Chicago for work and ordered tea at dinner. They brought me a cup and saucer, tea bags, and hot water. What is that?

6. We have red BBQ sauce here. I don't believe there is mayonnaise in it though.

I wouldn't trade food, overall, for anywhere else. But I do like Cincinnati Chile (see? I know what it is), Chicago-style pizza, Tex-Mex in Texas and Mexican in southern California.

The Mexican food here isn't very good at all.

Can't wait to read your summary on football and church!

RWA said...

It would help if I could spell "Chili" correctly.

GrewUpRural said...

I enjoyed this post. Today, I couldn't eat most of the foods that you listed. It's the gluten intolerance (allergy to wheat/rye/barley/oats)thing. However when I was younger, I loved this food. Even though I grew up in Delaware, there were a lot of transplants with southern roots.

One thing that I do not see on your list is scrapple. I know you can find it in the Mid-Atlantic, but what about the south? Scrapple uses every part of the pig. No leftovers! The only way I know to eat scrapple is frying it. My dad used to make him and I scrapple with fried egggs on top. What a breakfast.

I must stop talking about Southern food. I am making myself hungry for these things and if I consume any of them, I'll be sick for days.

Christina said...

Great post. I went to school in ATL and miss some of the food--- esp. collards, good mac 'n cheese, and sweet tea. Also found good pizza (Fellini's and Mellow Mushroom) and paella (la Fonda) in Atlanta, of all places.

Could you post some favorite recipes for traditional dishes, like potato salad, mac, bbq sauce?

I'm baking your Virginia Cooks pumpkin bread now! Smells great.

Behind The Curve said...

It all sounds soooooooooooooo yummy!! I'd be the size of a sumo wrestler if I lived in SC!

Amy said...

Ok, here are my Tennessean comment on your food post. Which, BTW, is very thorough!

* I live in Memphis, and this IS the BBQ capital of the world. Here, there is not much discussion on red v. vinegar sauce. In fact, I am not at all familiar with the vinegar sauce. BUT what I do know is that here, you either get your ribs "dry" or "wet." Dry is a seasoned, dry rub they put on the ribs, which I love. Wet means BBQ sauce.

* Speaking of "dry" rub, you get cheese and sauage plates as an appetizer at BBQ joints here. It includes cubes of cheddar cheese, pepperocinis, different sausages/meats, and pickles. All sprinkled with the dry rub. YUM.

* I am a weirdo Southern girl who actually drinks her iced tea UNSWEET.

* Don't forget how wonderful homemade ice cream is in the South. Especially peach homemade ice cream.

* My dad makes his own preserves (if that term is unfamiliar, it is basically jam or jelly) from the fruit he grows in his garden. He also pickles things - cucumbers, peppers, okra.

* Lard (similar, maybe same as, shortening) is used A LOT here. Don't even think of making biscuits without it.

* Hashbrowns, scattered and covered from Waffle House. Or any other variation they offer... "Covered" is with cheese. Or you can add chili, onions, etc. to it. And douse it w/ tabasco.

* my Memaw makes neckbones. i'm too scared to inquire.

* oh, and she makes fried chicken livers. I'm not a fan, but they are high in iron.

* my Memaw also makes hash. Her version is using a leftover beef roast. Adds potatoes, makes a gravy. And pour that over some white bread or biscuits made with lard. YUMMY. Can eat platefuls.

* We refer to Smithfield Hams as "country hams." we cook in a cast iron skillet.

* speaking of cast iron skillets, no good southern cook is without one. and you use one particular one only for cornbread. and you never use soap. just lots of hot water to clean. then stick it on a hot burner to dry it so it doesnt rust. then rub some oil in it before putting it away.

* Crawfish aka Mudbugs

Amy said...

woops, "here are my commentS"

Jess said...

Ah, this post reminds me of the food culture shock I experienced when I moved from Minnesota to North Carolina for college.

Your post could inspire me to write my own about the hotdishes and Jell-O salads you'd find in Lutheran church basements all around Minnesota, but it's been done to death. Plus, I'm an Irish-Catholic girl and we just didn't do all that.

coffeesnob said...

these sociological forays into southern life are wonderful.

but what do you if you don't like pork or sweets?

how can miller beer be any lighter or more flavourless than it already is?

what is the attraction of waffles?

Sam said...

The "low down boil" thingy? We have a place here in Southern California that does that. They boil it up and dump it on your table. Your duty is to go at it with gusto!

Becky said...

in tx, bbq means piggy parts too. brisket and sausage and pork and potato salad. NEVER burgers and hot dogs