Southern Comfort

27 Aug

By Stephanie Dickison

I had long been in love with Southern food and the culture around it. Everything is so silky and rich with food like no other cuisine.

Southern cuisine encompasses a lot of different types. Cajun, Creole and Soul Food are the big ones. And don’t forget Southern Barbecue. That gets a shout out all its own.

I think southern cooking has the perfect mix of being mostly simple dishes, but made in a comforting and yet sexy fashion.

I mean, what other culture uses both sassafras and sorghum?

The cuisine uses a lot of seafood – catfish, crayfish, crab, shrimp, oysters – and you’re sure to see pecans, boiled peanuts, sweet potatoes, collard greens, okra, fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peas, buttermilk biscuits, rice, butter beans, gumbo and fried chicken on the menu as well.

I think I like it too because the ingredients are so exotic to those of us outside the area. I mean where else are your going to find grits, hominy, muscadine, mint juleps and etoufee? And chicken fried steak just isn’t something going on here in the T-dot.

And the names are just as evocative – Hoppin’ John, Hush Puppies, and chicory and beignets (powdered donuts, sort of) for breakfast.

Swoon.

I think their pies are way more exciting – peach, pecan and sweet potato, to name just a few – and they make a mean cobbler, something that isn’t quite the same up here in these parts. Cornbread and biscuits are just way more fun than our ol’ regular loaves.

I like the mix of sweet and tart that has been combined in many of their dishes and there is a slow-cooking method to many of the dishes that harkens back to the old days of putting something in the oven or on the stovetop first thing in the morning and letting it do its thing throughout the day, though it doesn’t necessarily take that long anymore thanks to better stoves and quick-cooking ingredients.

Which means, you too can make this sultry fare at home.

Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Natalie Dupree’s Comfortable Entertaining have some traditional dishes that you can make in your very own kitchen:

Mains

Southern Fried Catfish

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Oyster Casserole

Sides

Southern Greens

Southern Vegetable Gratin

Southern Cornbread Stuffing with Smoked Ham and Yams

Southern Rice Pilaf Stuffing with Ham, Pecans and Greens

And in terms of some of the ingredients that can’t be found in your area, there are a few online resources that can help:

Southernfood.com

A Southern Season

Piggly Wiggly

And in case you want to see and taste it for yourself:

Southern Food Festivals

Southern Food & Beverage Museum

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One Response to “Southern Comfort”

  1. Emily October 14, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks for the taste of the south Stephanie. You should check out this online map of The Best Southern Foods! http://www.gardenandgun.com. The link to the map is on the homepage.

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