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15 Archetypal Southern American Foods

grubthrower . . . Comments

The American South has a rich and varied food history. From Old World food supplies brought over on voyages of discovery, to New World foods shipped back with both distrust and acclaim, to African slave innovations and the influences of countless immigrant settlers, arose a truly American melange of cuisine steeped in history and the necessity of invention.

It’s also what the list author grew up on, and makes for some mighty tasting eating… somehow retaining a recognizable and homogeneous Taste of the South in spite of its disparate origins. For the purposes of this list, the South is defined as north of the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coast, west of the Altantic Ocean, south of the Mason-Dixon line, and east of the western Arkansas border (suck it, Texas and most of Florida). Some of the foods are prepared, end-product dishes and some are base ingredients (foodstuffs). We aren’t that big on distinction in the South; it’s either Southern or it’s not — it either tastes good or it doesn’t — we either cook it often or we don’t. ‘Nuff said.


The Cajun Trinity (Jambalaya and Gumbo)


Right off the bat there is certain to be controversy, because of the inclusion of two completely different Cajun dishes under the same heading that speaks of a Trinity while otherwise ignoring an entire genre. It happens to be true that a good list of Southern food must include Cajun cuisine… yet the author is not from anywhere near New Orleans, and Cajun food has never been a staple.

Anyway, Jambalya is a paella-like rice-based dish with French, Spanish, and Carribean influences — and its variations are endless, especially when it comes to what vegetables are used. Most often it does include what are known as the “trinity” of Cajun cooking — onions, celery and green peppers, made famous by that blustering idiot Emeril. Stock of some sort is used to get “wet” rice, often approaching a risotto in texture. The most typical meats used are Andouille sausage (a quite spicy Cajun variety) and/or shrimp.

Gumbo, on the other hand, is essentially a thick (but not “beefy”) stew. Again, it almost always includes the trinity of onions, celery, and green peppers… hence the list entry. When most people think of gumbo, they think of okra, a highly nutritious vegetable brought over from Africa during the slave trade. Gumbo does not have to include okra, but it will certainly be mucilaginous to a greater degree if it does. Accomplished chefs can use immature okra pods, cut thickly with VERY sharp knives, and not stir the stew much, thus decreasing the amount of okra slime that interacts with the stock. Other people, when hearing the word “gumbo,” often think of “file gumbo.” File is mainly dried and powdered sassafras leaves, used as a flavoring and thickener. Sassafras has a unique flavor that is instantly recognizable to anyone who has tried it; sassafras can be overpowering as a spice even though it is not that intense in and of itself.


Pecan Pie


Sigh. We cannot leave New Orleans for a bit, but we’re on our way to Georgia. Legend has it that the French developed pecan pie after settling in Louisiana and introducing the tree to the natives. However, the Southern pecan pie will forever be inextricably linked to the introduction of Karo syrup in 1902. More importantly, in the early 1930s, a wife of a Karo executive made a pecan pie with the almost sickenly-sweet corn syrup and the company publicized it. In many parts of the pecan-growing South, such as Georgia, people just say they made a “Karo pie” and everyone knows it’s a pecan pie made with Karo syrup. If made right, Southern Pecan Pie will only be palatable to those with a serious sweet tooth.


Fruit Cobblers


Ah, we can now talk about new influences. First, “cobblers” were made in England long before the Pilgrims decided to take their religion and go elsewhere. But the ingredients were different, with the British version typically featuring meats. Also, many sources will state that “cobbler is a western U.S. cuisine innovation, made necessary by ubiquitous Dutch oven cooking during the opening of the American West. It is unlikely that they predated the cobblers of such previously settled places as the Carolinas though, given the preponderance of readily available ingredients.

For the purposes of this list, a Southern cobbler must feature what might be called an “interior dumpling” — as amply demonstrated by the image, a Southern cobbler has a doughy substance within its middle. There is a biscuit-like crust, and there may or may not be a bottom crust. If there is, no attempt will be made to make it flaky. The English version, even when made with fruit, typically aims to keep the crust totally separate from the filling — as is also true in some northern U.S. pretenders to the throne. Southern cobblers don’t care about that and just come out as a doughy-crusty-fruity-sugary whole.


Chicken And Dumplings


Author ruefully admits that this classic should probably be ranked much higher, perhaps in the top five, only it segues so perfectly from talk of cobblers. That’s because the concept of wet-dough-within-the-food applies, even though this is a salty meat dish rather than a sweet fruit dish. People have been making dumplings basically as long as they have had a grain to grind for flour and liquid with which to form a dough. And chickens certainly did not originate in the American South. How then, has chicken and dumplings come to be so identified with Southern cooking?

It is possible that no one knows for sure. However, truly Southern chicken and dumplings will be a thickened stew-like dish, with interior (not just on top) dumplings that are fairly close to a non-sweet “wet” dough as in a cobbler. The taste is utterly different, of course, but the science is relatively close. If you ever experience a biscuit-like crunchiness in a bowl of chicken and dumplings, sorry, but that is not what has propelled real Southern c&d to a pedestal far taller than similar dishes in many other cuisines over the centuries. The primary flavor signatures should be chicken fat with salt and pepper to taste..


Tomatoes, And A Certain Onion


It is the adoption of a food, not its origination, which controls definition of food cultures. And the tomato had to cross the ocean twice before the American South finally fell in love with this summer staple of home veggie gardens. Native to the Andes, Spanish conquistadores took it back to the Old World. We all know that southern Italians took to the tomato quite well, but it was Spanish and French influences coming back across the Atlantic that established the oft-reviled plant in the South. And certainly the long, hot summers of the American South are perfect for this fruit-like vegetable. Southern cooking regarding the tomato is unique in that it is not used all that often an an ingredient (some forms of BBQ or soups excepted), but rather as a dish unto itself. Very easy to grow, generations of Southerners have discovered the joy of simply placing a thick slice of vine-ripe tomato on a plate next to a sandwich during summer. The slice is usually salted, often heavily.

But the most original Southern contribution to the uses of the ubiquitous red orb isn’t even red: Fried Green Tomatoes. Archetypal enough to become the title of a movie set in the South, this dish lends verisimmilitude to the fact that only the Scots rival southern Americans in frying foods. FGTs are always pan-fried, not deep-fried. There may or may not be a binder wash of egg & buttermilk, and the coating is either corn meal, flour, or a combination of the two. Note: this is also the most common way Southern cooks utilize eggplant — an aunt’s recipe for both FGTs and Fried Eggplant often differs only in the main ingredient.

Special mention is now made of another crop that flourishes under specific Southern growing conditions: the Vidalia onion. By law — both state and federal — an onion cannot be sold as a “Vidalia” unless it it grown in a VERY specific region in Georgia near the town of Valdalia. The laws literally define the boundaries by a bewilderment of county roads. And that’s because the sandy, very-low-sulphur soil in that area produces an onion of exceptional sweetness and low “bite.” A properly grown and stored Vidalia is mild enough for the majority of people to eat as unadorned raw slices. They are planted in the fall, grow throughout the winter, and then storehoused until just the right time — hitting East Coast markets in early April as a welcome celebration of spring.


Catfish And Hush Puppies

1200002610 Southern-Fried-Catfish-With-Hush-Puppies-Recipe

Drive the byways of many medium-sized towns in the South, and you will encounter “catfish joints” just like the more common BBQ joints. You can be absolutely certain that EVERY catfish joint will serve hush puppies. Several religious dietary restrictions will preclude a number of people (most notably, observant Jews) from enjoying this classic Southern combination because the catfish feeds on bottom and has no scales. But its meat is firm, white, and sweet. Perfect for breading up and deep-frying. Almost all of the rivers of the South contain channel catfish, and that is the species most commonly served. In restaurants nowadays, though, you are most likely to be served farm-raised catfish, as that fish is the leading aquaculture industry in the United States. Four Southern states — MS, LA, AR, and AL — account for 94% of the production (source: Mississippi State University Extension Service, 2003 statistics).

And as long as you are deep-frying, make some hush puppies. There are as many hush puppy recipes as there are hush puppy cooks, but you simply must start with corn meal… and if you keep reading this list, you’ll come to realize that true southern cooks always keep corn meal on hand — usually within easy reach in the cannister set. From the starting point of corn meal, other dry or dryish ingredients are added: some flour maybe, usually some onions or onion flavoring; many recipes call for whole kernel corn and/or sugar. Then liquid (milk, eggs, water, beer are common) is added to form a batter. The batter is scooped into balls and deep-fried. The author believes that a good hush puppy will not be dry and crumbly on the inside; it should have a rich, almost caky consistency while the outside should of course be Golden Brown And Delicious.


Brunswick Stew


A single “named” stew scores high on this list because it is so Southern that many other cultures would not even contemplate making it. If you have had Brunswick stew, the chances are extremely high that you have never had the “real” version, unless you are from the South — and maybe not even then. That is because the good stuff is made with the meat of the grey squirrel. It is impossible to discuss this dish without discussing the ubiquitous squirrel. It may be a rodent, but its meat is velvety in texture, flavorable, and as lean as you can get. It tastes like squirrel. But, squirrels which have been feeding off of pine sources are considered very inferior throughout the South, as are fox squirrels that are not feeding almost exclusively on corn. The good old American oak-and-hickory-feeding grey squirrel shines in this stew, which is further distinguished from other stews in its reliability on generous numbers of corn kernels simmered for a long time.

Did it originate in Brunswick County, Virginia or the town of Brunswick, Georgia? Or even Brunswick County, North Carolina? Regardless, it’s a true Southern fall classic of harvest season combined with squirrel season, though nowadays most people make it with chicken or pork (as in the image)… more’s the pity.

And we will in passing dismiss (without ranking) another uniquely Southern stew, known as “burgoo” and being the main draw at more than one cooking festival, especially in Kentucky. Typically heavily spiced, it could almost be defined as a chili using chicken, mutton, or other whitish meats rather than beef. Most winning burgoos are “thin” in character and quite bold in their spiciness. Note: burgoo is subject to many spelling variations, and is both identifiable yet different from bowl to bowl as is chili.




Many people are aware of the contributions of the former slave turned agronomist, George Washington Carver, to the uses of the peanut. Fewer are aware that he never came up with peanut butter, a food that can only be defined as “American without regionalism” because its development history ranges from Battle Creek, Michigan by famed health-food guru John Harvey Kellogg to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair to becoming an early national-distribution item, once shelf-stability was solved by J.R. Rosefield in California in 1922.

Southerners, however, grow lots and lots of peanuts and use them for many purposes, including food for world-quality hams and the only-in-the-South Boiled Peanuts pictured in the image (a dish truly hated by the list author). Thomas Jefferson was an early adherent, experimenting with the legume in Virginia. Commonly called “goobers” in some states, a drive through the state of Georgia is almost guaranteed to pass large commercial peanut farming operations. And of course, it is common knowledge that former president Jimmy Carter was a Georgia peanut farmer before entering politics (though few remember that by education he was a nuclear physicist who pursued a career in the U.S.’s “nuclear navy” prior to his father’s death).



Dng Collard Greens Lg

“Greens” are the leafy parts of numerous plants. The quintessential “greens” of Southern cooking is collard greens, a type of loose-leaf cabbage similar to kale. But many other greens are used, including kale, turnip, spinach, mustard, and that no-one-else-eats-it green, the leaves of the poke plant. A popular song of 1969, “Poke Salad Annie” by Tony Joe White, has led to the erroneous belief that Southerners eat poke leaves raw in salads. Not true, as uncooked pokeweed leaves are extremely bitter and possibly toxic. The confusion arises from the Old English term “sallet” or “salit” which refers to boiling and discarding initial waters to remove bitterness.

“Greens” are a staple of Southern Soul Food, having been a food of necessity for black slaves and poor blacks after the Civil War. The dish is usually flavored with bits of fatty, salty meat such as fatback from a hog. In many grocery stores throughout the South in modern times, fatback is sold (at a per-pound price comparable to what the average consumer would consider not cheap for “desirable” hog products) almost exclusively for use as a flavoring agent. The process of cooking genuine Southern greens is basically simple, being that of stewing freshly washed greens with seasonings and some fatty meat, but of course everyone has their particular take on it. An initial water may or may not be discarded, based on the bitterness of the greens used and how much of said bitterness the cook wants to retain. Regardless, the final remaining water — which stews the longest– is reserved and known as “pot likker” and often sopped up with cornbread (which see).




Corn is a New World food that is now grown all around the world; more total tons of it are now produced than are of either wheat or rice [source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2006 statistics]. And while the northern states also have several varieties of “cornbread” made from corn meal, they are nowhere near as famed as those of the South — mainly because they are also nowhere near as good. Cornbread may be baked or fried (or a combination of the two), but for authenticity the cooking vessel must be a cast-iron skillet… one that has been in use a long time and is thus properly “seasoned.” It is more than possible to see cornbread served at any southern dinner (in some homes, at every dinner!), but it is often paired with one of three signature accompaniments: black-eyed peas or pinto beans, a bowl of greens (which see), or crumbled into a glass of cold buttermilk and eaten with a spoon.


Fried Okra

Fried OkraMini 60

If you have only tasted okra that was not fried, you must understand that the stuff becomes literally a whole different food when breaded and dropped into hot oil or fat. The truly amazing sliminess that so many people object to disappears entirely. And the unique “soft-green” flavor of the pods, something like a cross between avocado and zucchini with mild notes of thyme but better, fares extremely well with a good corn meal-based breading. Two images are provided because there are two schools of thought towards Southern fried okra. Both pictures are of okra that is perfectly cooked for its style. The darker one was panfried in a cast-iron skillet, using a fairly light dusting of just corn meal and salt. The second was deep-fried after using a buttermilk and egg wash as a binder, then coated with flour (note: more commonly, the dry coating will be about a 50-50 mix of corn meal and flour).

The pan-fried okra has a crispy, almost crunchy mouthfeel and every single bit of sliminess has been cooked out of it; the overall taste will be homogeneous. The deep-fried okra will — bearing in mind it won’t be slimy — nonetheless have a wettish interior, and the taste will noticeably include separate notes of that interior, the pod fiber, and the breading. Restaurants will almost always serve the second type, because if you already have a deep fryer going, clean-up is much easier. The list author enjoys both types, with a slight prejudice towards pan-frying.




Another Old World introduction, from back in the days of the voyages of Columbus. Even with numerous dietary restrictions against it, more pork is consumed worldwide than any other meat (source: National Food Review). And the South certainly downs it share: from the snout to the tail, pigs are almost revered. And the world has embraced the exceptional quality of Southern hams. As Nero Wolfe author Rex Stout once had the famous sleuth declare, “Poles and Westphalians have the pigs, the scholarship, and the skill; what they do not have is peanuts.” Pigs fed peanuts during their growing lives do indeed produce a distinctively sweet ham.

And although the famous hams of Smithfield, Virginia have been made since the town’s founding in 1752, a 1926 Virginia law amptly illustrates the importance of pairing swine with peanuts: “Genuine Smithfield hams [are those] cut from the carcasses of peanut-fed hogs, raised in the peanut-belt of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the State of North Carolina, and which are cured, treated, smoked, and processed in the town of Smithfield, in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The peanut requirement was repealed in 1966, and most hams today are fed a corn-based high-protein scientific diet… too bad.

There are two main types of hams: country and city. Southerners devour them both by the ton. Country ham is dry-cured and very salty. City ham is what you get from the deli. There are also combination curing methods. Regardless, “baking a ham” is a ubiquitous event in the South, and the varieties of “glazes” are endless, although pineapple and brown sugar are probably the most popular glaze ingredients.


Fried Chicken


Although almost every culture that has raised chickens has fried them, for many people the very term “fried chicken” conjures up visions of the South. The initial influence was probably immigrants from that previously-mentioned Frying Capitol, Scotland. But frying chickens southern-style undoubtedly owes its greatest debt to the slaves. Chickens represented an economic no-brainer to slave owners, as those in bondage could raise the birds themselves next to their quarters, providing them with eggs and meat with little or no additional capital outlay required. As is common to most foods on this list, it must be repeated once again: there are as many recipes as there are cooks. Both pan-frying and deep-frying have their adherents, but for pan-frying one needs that old and seasoned cast-iron skillet.

Fried chicken came to be so associated with Southern culture that social mores developed around it. It was the quintessential Sunday dinner (an afternoon meal, not an evening one, yet the largest of the day) entree. It would be surprising if ANY church pot-luck dinner did not include fried chicken… giving rise to the idiom “disappearing faster than fried chicken at a pot-luck dinner.” Then, fried chicken really took off. The phenomenal success of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain spawned dozens of competitors — virtually all of which came out of the South using Southern recipes. And even that could not stop fried chicken from becoming the most common home-cooked meal in the late 20th century, eaten more often than even hamburgers. That trend has declined; the author feels this is attributable to both the ease of take-out and the time required to prepare and clean up after a genuine home-cooked fried chicken dinner.


Pork Barbeque


Let the, uh, fireworks begin! In the South, pork is barbeque, period. Along with the marrying of Mexican food into the cowboy trail tradition to create what is known as Tex-Mex or Southwestern cuisine, Texas’ insistence on using beef (which is what they had, after all) for its barbeque is why that state is NOT represented on this list. Hog-pickin’ goes way back in the true South, and was even a super-popular way for politicians to try and impress the voters as far back as the 1700s: they had pit masters cook a hog or two, and broke out the whiskey. Barbeque itself traces its roots to the Carribean, where indigenous people impressed white explorers by smoking meats over a wooden rack called a barbacoa.

But again, it was African-Americans who turned pig, woodsmoke, and time into phenomenal succulence. It could be said that barbeque, (along with WWII overseas service), greatly helped to integrate Southern society… at a time when whites were loathe to drink from the same water fountains as blacks, they cheerfully bellied up to the cinderblock ‘que joints run by black pit masters who were masters indeed.

But we cannot get away from controversy, even across so arbitrary a boundary as an adjoining county line. The image shown is North Carolina pulled pork barbeque — specifically, Eastern North Carolina. There (and in hundreds of places nationwide serving this style), the sauce is very thin, vinegar-based, with red pepper flakes and very little else. To the uninitiated, the meat appears not to be sauced at all — just seems to have a wettish sheen and a few flakes of red. But rest assured, it will have a bite to it. Travel just a little bit to the west, however, and in the same state the same pulled pork shoulder — perhaps even cooked with the same dry rub and in the same manner — will be doused with an obvious red sauce using tomatoes and/or ketchup. While the list author definitely prefers the Eastern NC style, he points to the fact that if you buy a “Carolina style pulled pork sandwich” at a joint IN ANOTHER STATE, you will likely be served the Eastern style, and thus that style must be considered more “archetypal” for the purposes of this list.

Of course, pulled pork is only one dish in the Southern pork barbeque pantheon. “Going whole hog” is the phrase of art denoting the all-day process of barbequing an entire pig to feed many people at once. Both an art and a science, it represents an awesome undertaking and responsibility for Southern pit masters, as there is no recourse should either the art or science fail. Also, those who aren’t pulled pork freaks usually think of ribs when they hear the word “barbeque.” And they are indeed good. But when sampling the food of an unknown ‘que joint, one should probably start off with a pulled pork sandwich. If they can’t do that well, it doesn’t bode well for other pig parts. Ultimately, though… we’re talking swine here, not beef or poultry.


Biscuits And Gravy

Biscuits And Gravy

No one really owns a claim to either biscuits or gravy. Biscuits are a type of baked, leavened bread. Gravy is officially a “sauce,” albeit it usually a fairly thick one. The ingredients for both have been around for a long, long time. But the South invented the beaten biscuit, and using that 1850’s “technology,” America moved pell-mell into the realm of Bisquick-style mixes and canned grocery store doughs. Doesn’t matter. What matters is the pairing of a favored biscuit with sausage gravy as a hearty, belly-filling breakfast item — often the only course but no less hearty and filling therefore. First, let us mention and thus be rid of red-eye gravy, which is undoubtedly Southern but uses coffee as its base liquid. Enough of that. The archetypal biscuits and gravy from the South is a white sauce, using milk and/or cream. It can be made either from fat left from frying sausage or from a roux of butter and flour with sausage crumbles added later. But even though other types are certainly possible, what we are talking about MUST be a sauce for and/or from sausage. Pork sausage, of course.

Using either pan drippings or a roux, all-purpose flour is cooked at least until no chalky taste remains, then liquid from a cow is stirred in to create a smooth and thick gravy. Salt and pepper, (plus the sausage flavor) are all that are required in terms of seasonings. The color of the gravy will vary by region and recipe. Generally, the longer the flour is cooked, the darker the color — and the “nuttier” as opposed to “creamier” the final taste will be. The list author does not like to see any shade of brown in gravy used for this purpose (other than sausage chunks), although a light grey as in the image is usually ok. World-class gravy makers will tell you that it’s a simple thing to do, with only a few ingredients and a couple of steps, but are uncomfortable in writing said down as a recipe… because in the final analysis, making gravy is a process rather than a recipe, and you have to stand there and make it “on the fly” as it were.

Note that few words have been devoted to the biscuits. That’s on purpose. Barely acceptable biscuits and great gravy will be wonderful; great biscuits and barely acceptable gravy will be barely acceptable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with popping a can of store-bought biscuits and making an excellent gravy to slather over them; however, flaky-layer biscuits tend to yield poorer results than biscuits with unlayered centers.

Contributor: grubthrower

  • Santiago

    Still "American", why not souther USA?

    • DGMdragunov

      Because in English, that’s how it is.

  • Jono

    Great list!

    I really didn’t expect a lot of this stuff though, expected like, boiled crawdads. Thanks for opening my eyes, I’ll be trying some of this stuff later on.


  • heavybison

    Lots of stuff i gotta checkout. And boy do i hate boiled peanuts too!! Probably has to do with all that fried peanuts and beer that i’m so used to.
    Cool list..We sure could do with plenty more local cuisines from around the world.

  • RocknRollRehab

    A lot of these Southern foods also qualify as “country foods.” My mom grew up on a farm in the Catskill mountains in New York, and a lot of these are common foods in our family too.

  • Rob

    What about “Mello Yello”?

  • ElleMNOP

    Excellent list, made for good reading. Unfortunately now I am hungry and nowhere near the south.

  • teacherman

    I have been getting cans of Brunswick Stew every Christmas from friends in NC. Amazing!

  • Tngolferguy

    Great List!

    I’m was born and raised in Tennessee and still live there. You ID’ed some of the best food we have to offer. It’s 9:00 a.m. here and I’m “fixin” to make some biscuits and gravy. YUMMY!!!

  • NestorV

    Gumbo is good, if done right (like mosts food)
    You know what Gumbo stands for?
    “Yea, put that in too”

  • conni

    We had biscuits and gravy for dinner last night =). Good stuff! My momma was from the south and we often had many of these foods, minus anything even slightly like squirrel….ick. Her cornbread went faster than she could make it in her great grandmas cast iron skillet. Gotta have cast iron! I have a cast iron griddle from 1865 that I use almost daily. I think you forgot one of my favs.. smoked hamhocks and beans. Delightful. Great list!

  • Ghoti

    it’s kind of nitpicky, but I don’t think gumbo is cajun. It’s probably creole.

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  • Santiago

    When you said south american, I expected a list from Chile, Argentina, Paraguay,….
    I have to admit that I hate when people from USA usa the name “America” for their country, and forget that America is a whole continent.

    • kaitlin

      He said "Southern American". There is no such continent as Southern America. Last time I checked, it was called South America.

    • Jack

      Its North America. Not America. Also USA stands for United States of AMERICA.

  • stormy617

    Great list!!!

    Some of my favorite foods are on here. I taught myself how to make gravy years ago and even though I am a *Yankee* I make an awesome sausage gravy!!!

    I hardly ever order it in restaurants though, I was turned off of that when i got an order once that was almost sickly sweet. WTF Sausage gravy should not be SWEET, what ever were they thinking

  • BrotherMan

    Here in Kentucky we pronounce pecans like PEE-KAHNS. When I go down south I hear the word PEE-CANS…as in a can of peas. Either way as long as someone can make a good pecan pie I don’t care how they pronounce it!

    Great list grubthrower! And I am so glad to see biscuts and gravy as the first!

    • Texasryan

      Yeah in Texas we say peh-kahn that pee-can stuff is from the deep south which is a good bit north of here lol. Btw ill pit some Texas mesquite smoked beef brisket against your pulled pork anyday. Oh and a note to the author tomatos are not a fruit like vegetable they are a vegetable like fruit.

  • stormy617

    Santiago the list is titled Southern American foods not South American foods!!

  • christopherborne

    10 should definitely be 1. And boiled crawfish should be on the list. And by the way, I am a Cajun.

  • stormy617

    Well the continents are called North and South America not North and South American.

  • FifthSonata

    Same here. I’m lucky to live in a state where half may be “southern” and half may be “city” (which often translates into idiot rednecks trying to start a gang)
    Either way, the southern culture of cooking can be influencial to ANY state. My grandma’s idea of cooking was “Hey, add 3 cups of Crisco to that chili” and she lived to be 90!

  • MethodMan

    I would have enjoyed this more if the author hadn’t left out Texas!

  • stormy617

    Santiago, let me ask you this?

    If people from Mexico are Mexican, and people from Canada are Canadian, why can’t the people of the United States of America be called Americans.

    All three seem to be derived by modifying the actual name of the country by adding/deleting letters and/or adding “an” or “n”

  • reid1201

    I miss all the food on this list. I grew up in the Texas (and while Texas is supposedly not in the south according to this author, we sure eat a lot of these foods) but now live in Europe. I make as much of this stuff as I can here. I agree that you need a good solid biscuit (not a flaky canned biscuit) for biscuits and gravy. And biscuits are easy enough to make, you’re better off making them yourself instead of popping open a can.

    Great list, but now I’m hungry.

  • Einstein217

    Poke Salad is so popular Tony Jo White wrote an enitre song about a girl making it.

  • stevenh

    Texas isn’t southern – Texas is in a class by itself.

  • Trinitrotoluene

    Since moving to Atlanta I have not been able to escape the grit. I would have put grits on this list very near the top. Everyone that eats them has their own special way they like them seasoned and insist I will love them if I just try it their way. I still think they are nasty

    • Tiffany

      That's very true. I can't speak to the origins of grits but they are definitely a staple at a Southern breakfast. I know plenty of peple that like theirs sweetened with sugar but that seems a little weird to me. I grew up eating mine with Lousiana hot sauce (which other people think is weird :). American cheese makes a good addition too.

  • Annie

    I’m from Alabama, which is more Southern than I really care to admit, and I’m extremely disappointed that you left off grits. They are a huge staple down here. We’ll cook them for breakfast, let them sit through the day in a pan, and then fry grit cakes for dinner. Amazing.

    Also, we call it Camp Stew instead of Brunswick Stew, but that’s probably just an Alabama thing.

  • Yogi Barrister

    I’m a die-hard, vegetarian, New England Yankee with high blood pressure. Just looking at this list nearly gave me a stroke. I do love Southern cooking though, so long as you remove the fat, the salt, and the sugar. Of course if you do that you are eating what’s known as California cuisine. I never understood the impulse to take healthy foods like sweet potatoes and greens and then tart them up with marshmellows or salt pork. Is it any wonder that people in the South have the highest rate of obesity and the shortest life spans?

  • Yogi Barrister

    I just saw Annie’s comment. Come on now, you’ve got to have grits on that list.

  • Jen

    Great list!

    I grew up in GA, so everything non-Bayou in this list I totally relate to. I agree that grits should be on the list, though. Those people love their grits so hard.

    Best dinner ever: fried okra, pork barbecue, and dumplings, with pecan pie as desert. mmmmmm. High cholesterol. mmmmmm.

  • islanderbst

    Great #1! I gotta get me some now!

  • JB

    Although the list is very good, how could a list of Southern foods and not include grits?

  • 666


    When you say “America” it is common knowledge and usage that you mean The United States of AMERICA.

    The america you refer to is only relevent when you use North preceding it.

    North America is the continent you refer to, not America.

    • lau

      It may be common knowledge to you. As a costa rica, I too saw the name of the list and expected foods from colombian and beyond south, which I thought would be pretty interestig

  • 666

    South America…I mean. North America is where I live.

  • mitchsn

    If you’ve never had boiled peanuts, you should make it a priority to do so asap!

  • Yarr

    Yogi- These recipes were developed back in the day when people worked their ever-lovin asses off from before dawn to after dark. These are hearty meals that could provide a LOT of energy to a hard-workin’ man. Knocking back some of these and sitting in a cubicle all day before sitting on a couch watching TV will definitely make you fat. However, though I was born and raised in Texas, (Suck it Texas? Really?) My family is from Louisiana. They ate this stuff every day and drank enough whiskey to drown a horse and they all lived well into their 90’s. The women too.

  • big_bro_shane

    I have lived in the Deep South all of my life (so far) and while I do respect the opinions of others regarding foods of all regions and nationalities–HOW CAN ANYONE NOT LIKE BOILED PEANUTS?!?!?!?!? If boiled with crab boil they not only have a good texture but a spicy flavor. Oh, and I have eaten everything that’s on this list at one time or another and quite possibly all at one meal (nothing like a Baptist church pot-luck). And one last loving nit-pick–if it’s going to be about foods in the south, it HAS got to include grits.

  • What about Kool-Aid?!?!?!

  • Great list! I want some chicken and dumplings now, definitely one of my very favorite meals. I’ve tried collard greens once and I expected to hate them – I actually liked them a whole lot. Ham, fried chicken, and of course barbeque are all favorites of mine as well. I’m a “Yankee” but I grew up around some good cooks who must have had some Southern influences. When I go to South Carolina later this year to see my dad I’ll see what I can find down there. :)

    About Southern food being so unhealthy: Southerners are so noted for being hospitable and kind, maybe it’s because they they eat stuff that makes them happy! The so-called “California cuisine” is enough to make anyone miserable, unless of course they don’t have taste buds. Life is about enjoying yourself, not seeing who can make it to the grave in the fittest, leanest body. I’d rather die early, knowing I lived life happy, than live to be really old and miserable!

  • PJMurphy

    Americans are called Americans, what’s the big deal? What did you expect? Statians? Unitians?

    Of course, the rest of the World has an astonishingly large variety of things to call Americans, and surprisingly, not all of it is complimentary.

    More on point, although I haven’t had the chance to sample much more than Gumbo, Pecan Pie, and Fried Chicken, the majority of the dishes sound like the simple, delicious, filling cuisine that I love. You can take your fancy fine-dining and stuff it. I’ll take a simple bowl of gumbo and a slab of fresh-baked cornbread, any day.

  • Jen

    goof_ball: Kool-Aid is not a “Southern” thing. Sweet tea is (and should probably be on the list).

    • Tiffany

      Yea. Where is the sweet tea?

  • BrotherMan

    My most memorable experience, south of KY, is the famous Belgian waffle and deep fried chicken leg with maple syrup smothering the platter!

    Great list!

  • BrotherMan

    grubthrower: I shall chisle a statue for you! Would you prefer your name welded in brass or steel?

  • Yogi Barrister

    Miss Destiny, I assume your comment was directed at me. I agree that life is too short, even for a long-lived vegetarian, so you might as well eat, drink, and smoke whatever makes you happy. But you are dead wrong about fat, unhealthy people being happier. You are also wrong about California cuisine. The best thing I ever did for myself was to move away from the clam chowder and boiled dinners of New England to the luscious fruits and vegetables, and Asian influenced cooking of California.

    • Cfolsom1

      Well that’s your choice. I prefer hacking up a hog and making some pulled pork sandwiches. I did make some fried green tomatoes today and even though I didn’t have all the ingredients I can definately see some potential in my recipe. I used franks wing sauce (I’m from Kansas and Tabasco kills me) and it adds a very nice zing

  • bad news

    What a great list! As good as any on LV. If you wanted to understand southern culture, start at the top of this list and eat your way down.

    Grits probably belongs on here, but hard to quibble with anything else.

    I’m a displaced southerner, and I would near-bout sell a kidney to enjoy a good meat-and-3.

  • SonOfMyFather

    I feel dissapointed, being southern, having never had four of these. Awesome list as always.

  • Steve T.

    Ghoti is right. Classic New Orleans dishes are creole, not Cajun. Cajuns are country folk and Cajun food is country food, even if it is brought into the city sometimes.

    Fun story: Some years ago I was managing a mini-festival venue in New Orleans and hired the Cajun swamp pop supergroup Lil’ Band O’ Gold. Reading their standard contract, I was amused to see that one rider stipulated that the food provided for the band must NOT be Cajun food unless the venue is actually in Southwest Louisiana. Anywhere else, people think “Hmm, Cajuns,” dump on so much hot pepper and Tabasco that the food is inedible, and think, “There! They’ll LOVE that!”

    They don’t.

  • Cedestra

    When I hear “southern food” I immediately think of fried chicken, and thought that’s what would be first. But, yeah- biscuits ‘n’ gravy- I agree there. And BBQ, of course.
    I always imagine these foods being served at an church picnic.

  • Cedestra

    I also agree with Yogi #42. Eat what makes you happy, but I don’t think I could be happy eating meat and high-fat foods everyday. That’s just me, though. I used to eat whatever I wanted to, gained a lot of weight, and was depressed. I started controlling what I ate- no more pigging out on ice cream and cake and buffalo wings. And I feel better for it.
    In fact, I may move from New England to California, too! Damnit! I love Asian cuisine- especially sushi.

  • I love this list… It is basically my grama’s kitchen… not to mention that I can make an awesome Biscuits and gravy (my fav on the list)


  • Nelia

    Very cool list, but somehow cheerios don’t seem like a filling breakfast now…
    Now someone has to do one about the North East. I love my New England food :)

  • Not a big fan of biscuits and gravy but I make a sausage gravy you can stand a fork up in. Great stuff. Why is everyone hating on boiled peanuts all you need is a bucket (For the shells) and some cheap beer. Who doesn’t like ham and fried chicken? Ham came over on the boat and fried chicken is just tasty no matter where you are from. Add on the Corn bread and you have my list. Greens suck, Brunswick stew looks like a bad taco night, and Okra has to be one of the worst things on the planet. I think i’d rather eat a Durian.

  • SoCalJeff

    YES! Biscuits and gravy! Yum.

  • D Holmes


    Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska.

  • KatrinaTamica

    I love boiled peanuts. Mmmm.

  • Yogi Barrister

    Nelia, here you go: Cranberry Sauce, Lobster, Clam Rolls, Maple Syrup, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. That’s about it. If you smoke enough Vermont Skunkweed though, it all tastes good.
    Oh yeah, a little known fact, New England produces the tastiest corn in America.

  • DaisyMae

    Another favorite in the South (I live in Tennessee): Chocolate gravy and biscuits! People that haven’t tried it think it’s gross, but it’s just like eating a little bitty individual chocolate pie.
    You just take 1/4 cup cocoa, 1/4 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix it up, then add 1/2 cup milk and stir to make a paste. Then add another 2 cups of milk (or water) and stir. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick,like gravy. Then add about a tablespoon of butter and stir. Pour over hot biscuits or pancakes. Mmmmm, good!

  • Mom424

    Great List, I love food. I make damn fine dumplings and I have actually eaten stewed squirell. Don’t know if it was Brunswick stew but it was squirell. I cannot even imagine boiled peanuts, are they like other legumes? Mealy and disgusting? Like Chick peas?
    Good to know there is a way to prepare Okra without producing copious quantities of snot. I can’t eat raw oysters for the same reason. Shouldn’t eat stuff that has the same texture as stuff your body discards.
    My hubby gives you kudos for the teeth achingly sweet Karo Pie.
    ps; interesting tidbit about Jimmy Carter, didn’t know he was a nuclear physicist.

  • nikki

    omg i could live off of fried okra. and fried pickles. . .

  • Santiago

    666: you forgot Central America, you bloody ignorant

  • Santiago

    666: America is the whole continent: South America, Central America and North America (Mexico, USA and Canada), and not just your country,”United States of America”.
    I know that by “America” you mean USA, if am not such an ignorant, but you can’t deny that it just isn’t correct.

  • America is the country, North and South America Are continents, Central America is just geographic semantics. America anywhere in the world IS the USA. 666; was not wrong, maybe a little excited with the keyboard.

  • Brian Moo

    Ho snaps, thought this was going to be about South American foods.

  • Nelia

    Santiago, you seem to be missing the fact that the USA actually has “America” in the NAME of our country. Chile is Chile, therefore people don’t generally call you “Americans.” All over the world, you say the word “American” and people think of the USA because that is the name of our country. No one would say American and expect someone to say “by American, do you mean Chilean?” They would just call you “Chilean.”
    This is why there is a difference between the terms Southern American and South American. There is a reason the distinction developed in English, because otherwise there would be confusion. It is not “arrogant” for Americans to call themselves American, that is what our country is called. It is a unique position because our country shares a name with our continent.
    And just because this is annoying me, you don’t call someone “an ignorant.” You can say they “ARE ignorant,” or “I am ignorant.” Your version would be correct if you said “you are an ignorant person.” Forgive me, I happen to really like grammar, I can’t help it. You should hear me when my fiance says “on accident.”

  • Nelia

    oh, and you can call someone “an ignoramus.” Just for fun :)

  • J. Coustark.

    Would someone please tell me. What are grits and how are they prepared and eaten?.

    • Jack

      i dont remember how to prepare them but you eat them with a fork. Or at least thats how i do it.

  • Brian Moo: Or Central???

  • Nelia

    They are a bit like cream of wheat, only grittier and often quite salty. I believe there are both white and yellow grits, but I’ve only tried the yellow. They are often eaten with hot sauce. Now i am a Bostonian who has only had grits a couple times, so my description is based on Southern friends of mine who eat grits on a fairly regular basis.
    I can’t enjoy them because they are too much like cream of wheat, and it weirds me out that they aren’t sweet. But I’ve been informed that this makes me a flaming idiot, so I’m working on it.

  • StinkyTheCat

    HELLLLOOOOO?!?! Grits? come on, i’m not from there, but we ALL know that grits is #1 in the South.

    ps- that peach cobbler looks absoloutely terrible! i make better!

    • Tiffany

      I wondered if I was the only one who thought that cobbler didn't look too good.

  • StinkyTheCat

    reading above posts, Santiago needs to read more about geography and needs to jump off that “americans are so self-centered bandwagon”. he needs to read what Nelia wrote since, she exlpains it best. True, i was thrown off by the title and was expecting Brazillian and Bolivian, then saw it said ‘southern america’and realized MY mistake. santiago, i hope you can realize that too, instead of attacking America.

  • D

    “It is a unique position because our country shares a name with our continent.”

    Nelia, one minor correction The United States of America is not the only country that shares it’s name with a continent, there is also Australia.

    If I was a real pedant than I’d have to say that the country is The United States Of America whereas the continent is called North America, that leaves Australia in the unique position you spoke of.

    Don’t even get me started on the “World Series”

  • Kool-Aid isn’t southern, I KNOW!!! But not meaning to be stereotypical, a lot of black people (in the south) drink Kool-Aid. Sorry if I offend anyone, too.

  • Oh my goodness…as a good ole Southern gal, these foods make my mouth water. And none of these foods are good for you…hehe!

  • Wally

    The South is one of the fattest parts of the world with astronomical caloric intakes. The food is amazing, but evolution might give it a healthy make-over in years to come.

  • Shay

    It is a great list, but I agree with Ghoti. Gumbo is cajun, which is a completely different genre! Everything else is perfect

  • sam

    Living in south florida all my life i grew up on a lot of these food. My favorite being the biscuits and gravy, which are a great breakfast when your nursing a hang over.

  • Phillies

    Mmmmmmmm, what a great list…

    I never had jambalaya before about 2 months ago. I had it as cafeteria food from my university. Knowing this, it was absolutely delicious, and I cannot wait to taste real jambalaya someday.

  • drmos

    GREAT LIST!! meal ever…fried chicken, cornbread, fried okra, turnips, and pecan pie…oh don’t forget the sweet tea.

    Annie: Hi I from LA..that’s lower Alabama to you unfortunate souls that have never been in the south.

    Santiago: dude..its a list about food…grow up.

  • big_bro_shane

    Coustark: Grits is basically coarsely ground corn that is mixed in boiling water until it becomes as thick or thin as you prefer. Thicker is better {at least to me)so I use more ground corn; those that prefer it thinner will use more water when boiling. Cream of ‘what’ is similar, but doesn’t really compare to grits {grits is better}.
    Offense apologies (if needed)–cream of what is a good description from my personal point of view, but it was also the ad slogan for that meal for quite some time, so those who enjoy it, please do enjoy
    And ‘grits is’ is correct as grits is singular even though spelled plural
    Ya’ll come back now here :)

  • big_bro_shane

    oops, hear

  • drmos

    ooooh!!! people are torturing this poor boy…I’m going to the kitchen.

  • Nelia

    D – Sorry, when I said unique I really meant “one of the few,” but since that isn’t what unique means, I should have chosen my words better. I actually originally wrote that America was the only country with this distinction, then thought “oh wait, stupid, what about Australia?” lol. My bad.

  • DiscHuker

    i read the list and had one that was left off that made me think the list writer did not grow up in the south. so i diligently searched and saw that many, many people have already screamed at the ommission of grits.

    grubthrower: excellent list, with the above obviously noted. thank you for shining a light on part of the the good of the south. i get sick of the stereotypes and bashing. just curious, where did you grow up that didn’t have grits?

  • Yogi – I suppose it’s all a matter of personal opinion. I’m fat and unhealthy and perfectly happy. Seriously. I’m from just outside of Buffalo, NY. I live on pizza and wings, steak hoagies, and all sorts of other junk that currently resides in my arteries. If I die tomorrow, I’ll go satisfied in the knowledge that I lived my life the way I chose. I shudder at the thought of having to live on a diet of rabbit food, devoid of all flavor and variety. That’s just me though. What’s cool for me isn’t cool for everyone, and vice versa. When it comes to food, do what makes ya happy! (As long as you’re not eating people! That’s just sick and weird…)

  • Annie

    Drmos: Hello! I always love running into another ‘Bamian on the inter-web. If you’re from LA, are you talking Baldwin county area or more like Dothan?

    J. Coustark and Nelia: Grits are what I consider the rice of breakfast. Most people put cheese with them or some other flavoring, and they’re almost always a side dish. Steak and grits is my father’s go to breakfast when he has leftovers. I personally love to eat them with no extras, especially when I’m hung-over. Try it sometime. As for preparing them, it really depends on what kind you use (yes, there are many different kinds of grits), but you basically just boil the grits until they’re tender. If your grits are too salty, something ain’t right and don’t bother eating them. If you’re still curious you can either rent My Cousin Vinnie, starring Joe Pesci where grits are frequently discussed, or just go buy a box of quick grits and try them with some sharp cheddar mixed in.

    This is the 3rd time this year I’ve explained grits to a Northerner/ Northerners. I’m still surprised how little people know about grits.

  • Nelia

    Big_Bro_Shane – Don’t worry, I am not a devotee of Cream of Wheat or anything, it is just what I am used to. I actually haven’t eaten CoW in years, I moved on to oatmeal :) Thanks for the more thorough explanation.

  • Yogi Barrister

    Miss Destiny, you need a little fat in your diet to survive the Buffalo winters, and you can’t die tomorrow, you must hang on until the Bills win a Super Bowl.

  • NoPunyNerd

    J.Coustark: grits are basically polenta, if that helps. Coarsely ground corn, boiled with water or milk and salt, until creamy and tender. Grits can be made from white corn or yellow. I’m partial to yellow, but white are more common. You can buy instant grits in any grocery store in the southern states – extending to Texas, I might add – but slow-cooking, stone ground grits are sooooo worth the extra bit of effort! I just discovered them a couple of years ago.

  • bwmyers18

    Savannah, GA here. 3 words are missing … fried pork chops. Period.

  • NoPunyNerd

    Movie tribute to grits, informative and funny at the same time: in “My Cousin Vinnie,” Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in an Alabama diner asking the short order cook “What exactly is a grit?” Between the question and the accent, the cook clearly thinks aliens have landed, but he tells him what it is and how to cook it. One of my favorite comedies.

  • ChrisG

    Wow. I am soooo hungry now. The only complaint I have is that ham should be replaced with grits. Ham is NOT a specifically southern food, it is universal. There are cultures who love ham just as much as southerners, and it was hardly invented in the south, so it cannot be an “archetypal” southern food, whereas grits are associated with nowhere BUT the south.
    Damn. Now I want a pulled-pork sandwich in the worst way.

  • David

    Great list!!!

    It’s hard to get this stuff done right in a restaurant though.

  • Yogi Barrister

    “This is the 3rd time this year I’ve explained grits to a Northerner/ Northerners. I’m still surprised how little people know about grits.”
    Annie is too right. The first time I ordered grits the waitress asked, ” You want hominy?” And I replied, ” I don’t know, how big are they?” :)

  • Anastasia

    hey yogi, my boyfriend is still hangin’ on ;)

  • heavybison

    Anyone know the recipe to making homemade biscuits? I think i’ll try my hand at making some today..

  • loseitbonkers

    great list.
    i’m totally not from the deep south, but my father is.
    definitely noticed the omission of grits, a major staple for southern eaters, however.

  • Arkz_Archduke_of_Geeks

    im not from the south im from the west California to be exact, sorry texas is southern not western i just had to put that out, a few years back i got to spend my summer in the south, ozark alabama while there i sampled the foods, a few were better then others one was boiled peanuts they were awesomely good, espically warm, chicken and dumplings are amazingly good, hard to explain the flavor, and gumbo is great to crab gumbo is my favorite, the flavors there are very aromatic

  • J. Coustark.

    Thanks to all who answered my question (#64) regarding grits. I had heard of them but never bothered to find out anything about them. In New Zealand they are not part of our diet.

  • drmos

    Annie: We consider everything south of Montgomery LA down here. I live in the wiregrass area dear…southeast near Troy. And I love Alabama…you can wake up in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains and go to sleep that same day with the sound of the waves on the Gulfcoast pounding the shore.

    bwmyers18: Go to the Foodnetwork website and look for Paula Dean’s biscuit recipe. I swear I believe that woman took cooking lessons from my mother. She also has a great special grits recipe that uses cheese, garlic butter, and tomatoes. I made these as part of a special breakfast for my wife on the morning of our twentieth wedding anniversity. They were great and so is my wife :)…BTW, I agree, fried pork chops ranks right up there with the fried chicken.

  • drmos

    Sorry bwmyers…got you mixed up with heavybison on the biscuit recipe thing.

    heavybison: see above post :)

  • Kiribub

    Peanut. Butter. Pie.

    /I gained weight thinking about it… :)

  • copperdragon

    although i’ve never been to the Southern US, i love jumbalaya, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy and pulled pork.

    was kinda expecting shrimp or crawdads on this list (bubba gump shrimp anyone?).

    was also kinda thrown off by the pompous, thesaurus-swallowing text of the author. verisimmilitude? ubiquitous? preponderance? archetypal? quintessential?

  • DiscHuker

    being that it is a regional thing, and that i was born and raised in louisiana, if you call them anything other than “crawfish” you reveal that you aren’t local.

    crawdads, craydads, crayfish are all wrong.

    ohhh, so tasty.

  • BrotherMan

    #88 NoPunyNerd:

    I remember that part in My Cousin Vinny! Another funny part(s) is how Joe Pesci keeps being awakened by loud noises during the wee hours of the morn…every damn day!

    A memorable part for me is the screech owl in the woods while he and his fiance’ stayed in the cabin owned by the prosecuting attorney.

    He was once again awakened by a loud noise, took that huge long barreled revolver from the gun case, then ran out the front door and fired all 6 shots into the woods rapidly.

    The owl looked towards him and stayed quiet until Pesci went back inside the cabin and then it started screeching again.

  • Csimmons

    Speaking as a fat man, I truly love everything on this list, except okra, nasty shit.

  • BrotherMan

    Csimmons: You’re hurting me here, my friend…hurting me. A fellow Kentuckian doesn’t enjoy some good fried okra? What is the world coming to?

  • Csimmons

    brotherman:I only like it with ketchup, but thats the only time I love it, don’t lose hope :)

  • Csimmons

    I would have expected crawdads or shrimp, but this is a good list otherwise.

  • BrotherMan

    Csimmons: you said crawdads so you are good to go!

  • DiscHuker

    lol. am i talking to a wall?

  • Diogenes

    wrapped in newspaper/ steaming hot red crawdaddies

    po boys

    canabilism, (just foolin)


    mud pies (foolin again)

    some sorta fruit encassed in jello.
    mashed potatos

  • Yogi – I hope someone discovers a fountain of youth, I might be around for a long time if I’m waiting for that!

  • Diogenes

    see Diskhusker, I grew up in TN and lived in LA for some years. In TN, we called them crawdads, but we knew them also as crawfish. But I never ate them in TN, we only made them fight one another. When I lived in LA, I ate them.

  • Diogenes

    my thought is ,as long as “craw” is in there, it’s more southern. I dont think it’s “wrong” as you say, but
    Crayfish would seem outa place
    and I never heard “craydads” it was always “craw”
    craw craw

  • Diogenes

    ok ok
    so Crawdads are out of the creek
    Crawfish are what you eat

  • Diogenes

    I thought it was supposed to be in Florida, Miss Destiny
    or in a lab underground

  • souxieq

    I was also raised on these foods. Lots of my favs. A fight once broke out over some leftover pecan pie at my ex’s house on thanksgiving.
    Matter of fact, we had bicuits and gravy and fried taters for supper tonight. I can feel my arteries hardening, but I’m pretty sure it’s worth it.

  • Mr. Mojo

    I’ve lived in the southern US my entire life…mostly in Texas, but with some stops in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. Out of everywhere I’ve been, I have to say Texas and Louisiana have the best food by far.

    Texas has taken barbecue to a whole new level – no one is as obsessed with barbecue as a Texan. I have the good fortune to live in the western half of the state, so I have easy access to all the Mesquite I want…it’s simply a matter of taking the chainsaw out to the back yard. We barbecue at least once a month, usually once a week in the summer.

    Texas also has the best Chili I’ve ever tasted. Chili cook-offs are a common event at most local fairs and you can find everything from “mild enough for a small child” to “ignite your hair and melt your clothing”. I prefer something in between…I like it to have some kick, but I don’t want the peppers to drown out the flavor.

    Louisiana is of course the home of Cajun cuisine. I can’t say I like it all, but some of it is pretty good. You listed both Gumbo and Jambalaya – which are a couple of my favorites, but you forgot about Boudin and Red Beans and Rice which are also excellent.

  • suzi

    My step father was from Oklahoma and taught me to make everything here but that squirrel stew. You did a good job describing everything. Good call on biscuits and gravy making #1. Done right, that’s a mouthful of heaven!
    What I wouldn’t give for a plate of his catfish and hush puppies, and somd fried green tomatoes, and uuummm…cornbread.

    That was interesting about the pigs eating peanuts, didn’t know that.

  • Grumpus

    Mr. Mojo- I’m not arguing against the excellent cuisine of Texas, but it’s not Southern. It has developed it’s own wonderful style known commonly known as Southwest or TexMex or just Texan. For example, no “Southern” BBQ would use mesquite – it wasn’t a native tree. The best Southern BBQ is made using wood from fruit or nut trees (mainly apple, cherry, or hickory). I can also guarantee that the best BBQ in a restaurant setting is served in a run-down, dive-looking joint by the roadside, usually with a family member’s name (Aunt So-and-So, Uncle Whatever, etc.). As for chili: chili belongs o Texas and Texas alone. No one else can make the quality chili they do.

  • Grumpus

    As for grits: a lot of us don’t eat them, but they are archetypically Southern. The few people I know who do eat them load them up with so much butter, salt, syrup, you name it, that I don’t think they actually ever get to the grits. My grandfather used to eat them with calf or pig brains (!), which, while supposedly tasty, have about 1000% of your daily intake of cholesterol (and BSV).

  • troyfamu

    Annie and drmos: Wow…Dothan and Troy were both mentioned. Are either of you Trojans?

    Grubthrower: Great list. I live in the area of north Florida that Alabama has come up with the money to buy yet and formerly lived about 60 miles from Nawlins. All of these foods are excellent. Hopefully, the people who see the list try the homemade versions and not the sacreligious microwave versions.

  • Jennifer

    I come from the good ole’ south….and I can garentee yall….that all the food mentioned on this list is 100% FABULOUS!
    but my big fat ass tends to disagree….

    Yes….there is a downfall….but…everything on this list is OH SO WORTH trying for all you northerners…

    Don’t hate!

  • DiscHuker

    jennifer: you should say that your big fat ass DOES agree. you just don’t like that it agrees so readily.:)

  • SlickWilly

    Being born in the North and raised in the South has given me a unique perspective on this food. Personally, I love southern food in general (all except collard greens…..yeeech. I’m not a big fan of grits either, which I catch flack for *all* the time down here) but being originally from the chesapeake bay area, northern food holds a special place in my heart. Someone should do a Top 10 Best Northern Foods list, with lobster, blue crab, clam chowder, etc. etc. (There might be more to northern food than seafood but none I quite pay as much attention to. :) )

  • SlickWilly

    Grumpus: The hands-down BEST bbq I have ever eaten was a beat up, run-down old shack on the side of I95 in Georgia called The Georgia Pig. The restaurant was an old log cabin that they never bothered to restore, with a leaky trough for a urinal. But the bbq was so good, every bbq I’ve had since then just can’t even compare. I’m talking epiphany, revelation-having, flatten-your-balls good. *Real* good.

  • Asher

    Texas isn’t the South…and everyone on both sides is cool with that.

    And Texas is all about the steak, Tex-Mex and brisket. And a little seafood as well. But mostly the taquerias.

    You could do a whole list on just Texas foods if you wanted to. Personally, though, I don’t think you can get good baraboca north of San Antonio. And I don’t know what I’d do without chorizo…probably lose 10 pounds or so, but I digress.

  • SlickWilly

    I believe Texas and Texans think of themselves as the “Southwest,” along with Arizona and New Mexico. Not the “South” as one would typically think of it.

  • joel

    What about the Moon Pie?

  • Joss

    1) I want to eat all of that.

    2) Grits?

  • Niamh

    Great list. I do disagree on one count though–opening up a can of biscuits is not acceptable. Those things taste like margarine and chemicals and are an insult if you have really wonderful gravy. Biscuits are a snap to make and the dough freezes just fine if you’re in a hurry. Do yourself a favor(and your gravy a favor) and make real biscuits!
    (Grew up in Monck’s Corner, SC. Would also like to concur about the grits.)

  • TheDragon

    As a lifelong, born and bred Southerner (though I certainly don’t “act” like one) I am proud to say I’ve had every food on this list and I love our cuisine. A few things I am not keen on, like greens, but all in all we have a very flavorful food history down here…

    And, high cholesterol *ahem*…

  • Burrito

    I’m from the South and I’m very familiar with most of these dishes…except that I’ve never had Brunswick Stew. I didn’t even know what it was until I read this list. It surprised me that there was something on the list that I wasn’t familiar with.

  • grubthrower

    1. Grits were left off of the list on purpose — to give you guys an omission to champion! Jamie can verify that when submitting, i mentioned that the grits were gonna fly. I like mine with about an entire stick of real butter melted on top.

    2. I’m in agreement with some folks here that Texas, to encompass Tex-Mex and Southwestern, is simply an entirely different cuisine.

    3. In light of that, you’ve got me thinking about the whole Creole-Cajun thing.

    4. The submitted title was actually “15 Archetypal Southern Foods (U.S.)” which could have saved us all a geography lesson.

    5. I once spent a year (exactly 365 days) as a vegetarian when a friend of mine quite rightly pointed out that I could not dismiss something with which I had no personal experience. From two weeks to a month I felt great, as flushing the meat residues was actually a good thing. Most of the rest of the year I was simply missing good food and spending WAY too much time trying to find something to eat… there are only so many cheese pizzas a man can consume. The final month I was protein-starved, feeling logy, unable to concentrate, etc. But I stuck it out and that first double cheeseburger was AWESOME. Bottom line is I am convinced that our denttition is right — we’re designed to be omnivores, and some animal protein is necessary.

    6. BrotherMan, about that statue… just chainsaw it from a big old stick of hickory.

  • Grumpus

    I’m glad someone else knows what I’m talking about. The absolute best BBQ I had was off of Rt. 460 in VA in a dive that didn’t even have a name on the building. It looked like it was in an old service station-like something from the beginning of a horror movie. The tables were the giant wooden spools used for power line cables. Come to find out the cook was a Swiss cordon bleu trained chef who got tired of city life.

    BTW- A northern foods list sounds great, minus scrapple. What is that anyway?

  • cyberfreak77

    Now that i know what you must eat over there I am appreciative to the fact of the “bringing the war to the terrorists” thing. Eating this everyone in the world would get really, really angry and for me as beeing german just watching at these pictures makes me want to invade poland…

  • chershey

    I’m so GD hungry now.

  • nolamomma

    Ghoti is correct, gumbo is Creole. Also, Creole cooking refers to the style of cooking developed in New Orleans with African, Carribbean, Western European, and native Indian influences. Cajun cooking is the country cooking of South Louisiana that was the main style of cooking used by the Acadians who settled in So. LA from Nova Scotia.

    That said, both styles are awesome and fabulous and mmm, mmm good.

  • SlickWilly

    cyberfreak77: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I dare say Germany has some pretty foul-looking national dishes as well, but I’d be willing to bet anything that they taste amazing. And American cuisine, while simple, rustic, and generally unhealthy, is not nearly as terrible as the national cuisine of some other countries. Like England, for instance. Or some parts of the orient.

  • skeev

    How about some Country Fried Steak and gravy?

    Or better yet….grits!

  • MzFly

    mmmm mmmmm good list! I miss Pete’s Barbecue in Aiden, NC!!! and Also Bea’s Barbecue. It’s a close race between the two of them, for The Absolute Best barbecue ever.
    I love living here in upstate NY but a few things I miss are true NC bbq and a nice big ol’ pot of mustard greens. I agree with you on the biscuits and gravy. I never could make a good biscuit, but the gravy always made up for it.

  • MM

    Funny…I always thought it was barbecue, with a ‘c’…

  • Amanda

    You forgot the chcolate gravy and biscuts, HOw can you forget that.

    I must admit this list is very accurate though.

  • CK

    All I have to say is – YUM! =)

  • Mr. Mojo

    I get what you’re saying about Texas not being “south”, but I guess it depends on your perspective. I grew up on the TX/LA border. I don’t know what I’d call it, but there is a thing they do there where they combine cajun/creole with tex-mex. It’s a pretty interesting combination which is different from, but greater than, the sum of its parts.

    I do agree though that the southern and western cooking is completely different than traditional southern cooking. There is a north-to-south line at about DFW that separates the state. Everything to the east is more traditional southern, with the western part being all tex-mex. You can actually see the difference in the landscape. Driving west through the state, everything east of Dallas is green and covered with trees (except the million hay fields). Once you get past Ft. Worth and into Weatherford, the ground flattens out, the trees dissapear for the most part, and the grass turns brown.

  • Adam

    I would KILL for a bowl of Jumbalaya right now!!!

  • What about roadkill skunk and beer?

  • Wolfgang

    Would someone please be kind enough to explain to me what it is that “grits” are and what are they made from ?

  • Lisa

    I so live in Smithfield, VA. I know, I know… I’m lucky!

  • Gman

    I love pretty much all things on this list EXCEPT Eastern Carolina BBQ. Growing up in Mississippi, Memphis BBQ was the norm, and for my taste the two can’t compare.

    Grits are made from ground hominy, which is corn with the germ removed. Many Northerners think cream of wheat is comparable. It’s not. The best way to eat grits is to fry and egg over light and mix them together. I would love to have my grandmother’s grits and eggs just one more time.

  • smiff

    Being from South Carolina, I’ve eaten the entire list!. But I don’t like okra, and I hate greens. they’re like different flavors of spinach. My wife makes cornbread in a 30 year old cast iron frying pan from her grandmother.

  • Kit

    Oh, I’m in love with this list! I have eaten every single one of these, even authentic Brunswick Stew. My gran’pappy (that would be “grandfather” to most people) used to make it.

    Really good research!

  • MissFirecracker

    Wolfgang-Grits is a coarse ground cornmeal that’s usually cooked with butter and milk and served a breakfast dish.

    i despise it.

    anyway, i honestly didn’t realize Brunswick stew was a southern thing! i can’t imagine going through a fall without getting a couple quarts of it from the local church or fire dept. mmmm….

  • Doobie

    Nice list. Just can’t get over the fact that you refer to our Southern tradition as a “hog-pickin.” The correct terminalogy is pig pickin’. Nobody around the South ever says hog-pickin’.

  • Dave

    I live on the Alabama Tennessee line and I have no idea what Brunswick Stew is. A southern food tradition to me is simply using what’s around you, which leads to variations of these recipies throughout the south.

  • AlphabetFish

    Oh, so that’s where my boyfriend got that weird biscuits and gravy obsession. I didn’t realize that was a Southern thing.

    Me, I’m totally ignorant of this food; my parents are from New York and I’ve lived in California all my life. I should like to get some real barbeque, though; I saw a program on southern barbeque sandwiches and they looked delicious.

  • sydwaz8

    Great list!!! It made me extremely hungry, and long to be back in Birmingham.

    If you don’t like boiled peanuts,you haven’t had real ones. They MUST be GREEN PEANUTS! Absolutley not jumbos. Also, they must be purchased from the oldest man you can find on the side of the road. The older the better.

  • sailor

    I am from Texas and I pretty much eat all of the foods listed…we are not all that different from what “you” consider
    southern american cooking.
    You made a big mistake telling us to “suck it”…you likely lost all of your Texan readers. You should keep your stereotypical opinions to yourself….

  • Melanie

    Love the list, love the food, even the greens. Specifically, turnip greens. I was born and raised in Mississippi, and this is the food we grew up on. Also, a local delicacy known as “tomato gravy” (no relation whatsoever in flavor to tomato sauce), served over biscuits. My grandmother made it-she bequeathed the recipe to me, but mine will never taste like hers did. That was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. And the afore-mentioned greens, with that pot likker over cornbread-always, as stated, made in an old well-seasoned cast-iron skillet–yum.

    I was only familiar with Memphis-style barbecue growing up–I went to North Carolina when relatives moved there, and discovered the vinegar-style, and now it’s my favorite.

    To the above poster who noted the obesity rate–I would just as soon attribute it to modern “convenience food” and junk food and fast food as to traditional Southern cuisine–that makes more sense, really, as those studies show that it’s the poor, particularly poor blacks, who skew the obesity rate, and these days the poor subsist more on those convenience foods and fast foods than home-cooked meals of any kind, especially the somewhat labor-intensive foods on this list. All my grandparents ate these foods, and they were all thin as rails-I’ve noticed that it’s the younger people in many families (including my own) who grew up with Burger King and McDonald’s, and turned up their noses at “down-home” cooking, who have had the weight problems.

  • me

    to the dude with the “america” issue. Go talk to someone Peruvian and ask them if theyre American. theyd probably think youre a nutcase. Or go ask someone from Panama, or Mexico or..wherever else on one of the continents.

    And yep besides grits this is a pretty dang good list. ad watermelon :lol
    My family is southern and yeah. you gotta have the watermelons! (well and cheerwine but tats not food nor dating before the 1900s lol)

  • MiddleAgedMomma

    I’m a 47-year-old mother and a sixth-generation Georgia native, and feel compelled to add a few notes…

    My grits include butter, an egg or two, Velveeta cheese (regular cheese will clump and get weird), diced green chiles, and a dollop of either sour cream or Duke’s mayonnaise, whichever is handy. People seem to really like it.

    A few restaurants here and there, Henri’s in Acworth, Georgia among them, serve an ecstasy-inducing cornbread that is faintly sweet with a touch of searing heat. It is to die for. They won’t give out the recipe; I’ve begged, to no avail. I like it, but think of it as something altogether different from skillet cornbread. Have had “sweet puppies” at a few coastal restaurants, made with cinnamon and raisins, and they’re yummy, but they are a definite variation from the classic hush puppy. I guess it’s sort of like martinis in that way…

    Last year, I went to a whole-hog barbeque and it was just phenomenal. The cookers made a rack for the pig out of a chain-link fence gate, and put it on a huge smoker, then kept throwing on hickory wood all night log. The overnighter was accomplished with genteel drinking, napping, and storytelling. The pig lay there, supine on its flaming throne, basking under about 30 pounds of brown sugar and pineapple slices. I don’t know what else was on it– some salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice? The fragrance was incredible. The next day, the resulting pulled pork was like… pig candy. All that said, however, I adore TX BBQ brisket (sigh) and love a NC pulled pork sandwich. Now, I’m hungry…

    Biscuits are an art form that was taught to me by an older lady. I take 2 cups of White Lily self-rising (red label) flour, then add some vegetable oil and milk (buttermilk is better, but you can sour the milk with some lemon juice and it works just as well) and whip the latter up in a blender, and gently stir the mixture with a fork as little as possible. The key is not to touch the dough any more than necessary, certainly no kneading. The dough gets quickly rolled out, cut into 2-3″ rounds, and popped into a really hot (like 500 degrees F) oven for about 6-7 minutes. Excellent with some butter and locally-produced honey. Biscuits and sausage gravy are a comfort food for which almost anyone, from anywhere, can develop a taste.

    You have to be pretty hawkeyed to find a good boiled peanut vendor. The sign, always handmade, will be on the side of the road, and you may have to do a U-turn to get said peanuts. I like them best when they’ve been boiled with a lot of Cajun seasoning in the water. They’re pretty messy, so they’re good picnic or football tailgate snacks, and great with cold beer. Somebody probably maintains a website that tracks boiled peanut vendors (like southern towns that are speed traps), haha!

    I’m with a poster above… food is a non-hater topic. There is delicious food everywhere, and we should all cherish geographically-unique foods like they were gold! The DH and I travel whenever we can, and we love a REAL bagel with a shmear, NY deli sandwiches, fish tacos, Jamaican jerk chicken, real Italian (esp. gelato!), curries, sushi– you name it, and I’m game! =D

  • Cyn

    *drooling over keyboard* its this kinda comment that makes me know we have to publish a Listverse cookbook…you reading this J?

    thanx Momma! (from another middleaged mom in TX)

    i’d suggest people start compiling their favs either off this list/comments or adding more…maybe via email? and no…don’t do anything yet til you’ve got the go-ahead from J. possibly as an ebook the proceeds going towards site upgrades/costs. and contributors getting bragging rights…like which recipes of a particular type are ranked #1, possibly by vote? dunno..just thinking out loud.

    what say you? J. and all ya’ll. :)

  • Sure, I’m in. I’ve got to vote on something this year. :)

  • ChuChu353

    There is a lesser known pretender to the Videlia Onion. The “Noonday Onion” is only grown in a small section of Northeast Texas within a 10-mile radius of Noonday,TX. These onions are as sweet, or sweeter than the Vidalia, but are smaller and only avialiable for a very small window of time. Usually, only the locals know about them ;)

  • 23RedLeader

    no grits!!!!!!!

  • Tsiamon

    Boiled peanuts are truely an offense against good taste. The rest of it is pretty damn good. I lived in the south for a while and I get frustrated when I can’t find fried okra anywhere around here, in Chicago.

  • DC


  • Amanda

    Hold a cup, are you kididng, My nephew drank the stuff from a bottle, I myself don’t like tea (i know i know, shun me) lol, I just never got a taste for it.

  • joebecca


    I would expect to see Sweet Tea and Grits on there too though..

  • ElenaSFA

    HushPuppies just sound too cute to eat.

    Unless you’re me, and puppies are a delicacy! D:

  • Bruno

    being south american myself, i must say i only know three of the foods in this list, and can’t exactly see any of these three (let alone the others) as archetypal. ;p

  • Lammy

    Hushpuppies are kind of cute…but they’re kind of tasty too. YUM!

  • Nicosia

    Howdy y’all to my fellow Kentuckians! Anybody here ever try beer cheese, fried banana peppers or a hot brown?

  • Vincent

    This is a fantastic list.

    I am actually drooling.

    My mother is from TN and taught me how to cook many of these dishes. I have an Iron Skillet she gave me when I went away to college that I still have. It is mandatory for gravy, fried chicken and of course cornbread.

    Now I miss my Mamaw – she made the best biscuits and gravy I have ever had. Interesting on the cornbread in buttermilk. That is what my Papaw called “cereal”

    I am absolutely starved now.

  • Masha

    I love boiled peanuts.
    The rest — meh. I’m vegetarian and allergic to peanuts, so my options are limited.
    But compared to the food people in this part of Georgia eat, this sounds wonderful. :P

  • Sputnik

    …..Ohhhh….I’m sooooo hungry now….
    The only thing that I didn’t like was the picture of baked cornbread! Yuck! I prefer my cornbread fried and covered in mustard. Yum!

    And why the big write up on Carolina pork barbeque? The greatest pork barbeque in the world is in Memphis, TN. Interstate BBQ. My absolute favorite! Oh, and Whole Hog Cafe is really good and it started in Little Rock.

    Hey, I just realized that you didn’t have black-eyed peas on this list! You had cornbread, but no black-eyed peas! You eat cornbread WITH black-eyed peas! Come on! I love black-eyed peas!

    Furthermore, I live in Arkansas and have never heard of Brunswick Stew.

  • NailGlue

    Being somewhat of a ‘food nerd’, (so much so that I have been known to take holidays based on cuisine), I’m going to have to travel to the southern USA and try everything on this list. Yum!

  • gabi

    MMM Pecan pie!! I lived for a short while in the northern midwest and the only thing I truly hated was how impossible it was to find pecan pie even during thanksgiving!

    You should broaden deep fried okra to deep fried everything – deep fried turkey, deep fried bacon, never had a deep fried twinkie but there’s a cult following for it…. I’ve changed my habits and prefer a healthier, fresh-food-oriented approach to life but I still can’t deny my mouth waters at the idea of deep fried okra and ribs…

  • Nicosia

    Hi Sputnik! I think Brunswick Stew is more of a Carolina thing.

  • howie

    GRITS doesn’t just stand for Girls Raised In The South! It is THE southern breakfast food. Ham is just too common everywhere to be called southern, Replce that with chicken fried steak with pepper gravy or maybe fried chicken livers or gizzards, red beans and rice with summer sausage, hoppin john etc, etc

  • Ashley R

    oh my god! i absolutely LOVE fried okra! i just think it is amazing in every way haha. i am also a big food person, i love cooking and im always watching the Food network…well anyway i was watching a show where guy (i have NO idea how to spell his last name!!) went to a bunch of restaurants around the us, and there was this one that was in Alabama i think..and they served pig ear sandwiches! i had never heard of such a thing…but from what the owner of the restaurant says its very popular down there…

  • howie

    In addition RC cola and a moon pie! I’m from Memphis, Tn., my wife is from Tx gulf coast (Rockport) They are southerners! In attitude and cuisine, they just also have the added influence of being closer to Mexico so there is also taquitos for breakfast and chorizo to add to almost any meal. The only thing they do “wrong” is call a delicious, spicy, smoked beef brisket barbeque- they should know only pork can be bbq!!!

  • Dani

    After growing up in SC and also living as a child in Virginia Beach, we ate a lot of great southern food. It’s what I was raised on and my Mom who was born and raised in Charleston, SC learned a lot of southern cooking from her Grandaddy who was once a chef. My favorite BBQ as a kid was found in Charleston, SC. Maurice’s and Bessengers use a golden sauce on their BBQ that is the best! Also, how can you forget southern sweet tea? If it ain’t syrup, it ain’t tea. I suppose though that it’s techincally not a food, but worth a mention. Other foods that I feel deserve a mention are crawdads, she-crab soup, sweet potatoes, grits, well I could go on but I’m getting hungry. I’m currently living in WV and the people here think the foods I eat are bizarre. I dated a guy who had never even heard of boiled peanuts before and didn’t understand what I was saying when I said the word “boiled.” I had to spell it out for him. And the best way to cut the bitterness of collards is to add sugar. Dee-lish!

  • Sweettaterpie

    Where did you get that Emeril was the one that made the “Trinity” famous…ever hear of Justin Wilson! He brought his southern/creole/cajun cooking to the world in books and TV. Please lets give credit where credit is due. You should add Banana Puddin’ and Potatoe Salad to that list. It is always a staple food of socials, church gatherings, family get togethers and funerals. You also had a choice of beverages, water, Coffee or Sweet Tea. Grits is a must! The list could go on. Being raised in the south and then married to a military man,, I have to say the best southern cooking is found in the south.

  • tchudson

    Being from the south, I’ve eaten all of those, except the Brunswick stew. Though my roommate and I made gumbo using squirrel and I have had squirrel fried like chicken.

  • CatChick1964

    Oh my gosh… that list made me so hungry. Most of them are foods I grew up on and was taught even as a child, how to make. Homemade. Yum.

    The chicken and dumplings picture just about did me in. I’m thinking I may go put some breasts on to simmer right now for dinner tonight. Or.. wait.. I have a ham in the fridge, too. I could also make fried chicken, instead.

    Thanks … see what ya’ll did to me.

  • TheRookieYear

    My family is all from the south, but I live in the Mid-west, and I can really appreciate this list. One thing I noticed they didn’t mention though.
    In the south (or at least the Virginia / Tennessee region) Okra is pronounced Oak-Ree instead of Oak-Ra lik4 it is in the north.

  • Aaron

    Texas has by far the best barbecue in the south, both pork and beef. Anyone that argues against beef barbecue has never had brisket. You forgot GRITS!

  • Haha yeah I expected to see grits on here. I never ate them, but my boyfriend loves them with cheese. His family makes them and they’re pretty good. We went to an expensive restaurant which, much to my surprise, offered them.

    I live in Texas, and my boyfriend is from Louisiana. He loves to make jambalaya.
    I love pecan pie on the holidays.
    MMM…. home made chicken and dumplings.
    I hate onions.
    It wasn’t until my late teens that I developed a love for fried okra… yummmm.
    The only fried chicken I’ll eat is chicken breast.
    And occasionally buscuits and gravy are to die for.
    As for bbq, I like chopped beef or brisket.

  • Aubloom

    SUrprised I haven’t seen this list yet. Great list. I am from VA but the part of VA that is probably more southern then NC, SC, etc. Eastern Shore of VA that not many people realize actually has 2 counties that are considered VA.

    Anyway, getting offtopic there. There isn’t a single thing you listed that I would disagree with. As a matter of fact I am disappointed some people have never had some of this. I have eaten all over the world, nothing compares to good ole home cooking(probably because I grew up to it)

  • Scott

    Your number one item, biscuits and country gravy, is right on the button. I am a southern boy and was raised on it but my mother rarely used sausage fat….neither did anybody else in the south use it. The standard recipe was to use bacon fat and crumble the cooked bacon over the top.

  • CastingCrowns

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 tablespoon sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
    ½ cup butter
    ¼ cup lard
    1 ¼ cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk

    In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and lard until coarse like corn meal. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir until just moistened. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough until ¾ inch thick. Cut biscuits with biscuit cutter. Roll up left over dough and repeat until dough is used up. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

    The greatest biscuits ever!

  • Tyler

    This makes me so homesick! My grandma made an award winning peach cobbler, and I’ll always remember her making cornbread with every meal (then having cornbread and buttermilk for desert,)

  • Jenna

    I am a born and bred southerner and I’ve never heard it called Brunswick stew. We here in the midsouth call it Mulligan. It’s made with squirrel, onions, potatoes, corn and beans. NEVER does it have tomato in it.

    Another tasty meal from our friend the squirrel is a breakfast delicacy….squirrel brains and scrambled eggs.

    You also neglected to mention a staple of EVERY southern table. Pinto beans, also called brown beans, cooked with ham. I’ve been to many a potluck dinner and family meal and we ALWAYS have beans. ALWAYS. Beans, greens and cornbread are the backbone of every southern family dinner.

  • Jenna

    One other thing……there is a confusion as to what grits actually are. They are NOT simply ground corn. That is cornmeal. Grits are made from ground HOMINY. Hominy is sweet corn that is soaked until it swells up. It is then dried and ground to make the most quintessential of southern foods……grits. I cannot believe that so many people missed that fine, but important, point.

  • Anna

    I'm from South Carolina…

    You forgot two Southern staples! Those would be GRITS and SWEET ICE TEA. Also, to a less extent, some people would probably argue that Charleston She-crab soup should also be included on this list…

    I agree with you about the pulled-pork! Vinegar base is the yummiest! Maurice Bessinger can keep his "Carolina Gold" and I don't want anything to do with that ketchup based horror.

    • CatChick

      Maurice’s BBQ sauce is a Mustard / Vinegar based sauce. I was so surprised when I first had Maurice’s BBQ that I thought he had somehow gotten hold of my recipe (sans ketchup), which is nearly equal parts of Mustard, Vinegar, Ketchup and Sugar (salt, pepper and other spices added to taste / heat desired). Cooked low and slow until thickened.

      If Maurice’s standard BBQ sauce has ketchup in it, it isn’t in any significant amount to be noticeable to the pallet.

      If you ever drive through Columbia, SC and do not stop at a Maurice’s for a styro-foam plate of Pulled Pork, slaw and hash with rice then you are doing yourself a great disservice.

  • ZackaryDuFour

    Louisiana really deserves its own category apart from the South (or the rest of the world for that matter). The food, culture, language, and religion down here is apart from anything your going to find in the rest of the American South. It’s really a different world down here.

    Good list, but you forgot boudin, cracklins, tasso, hog’s head cheese, boiled crawfish, and the ever present red beans and rice.

    Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  • Rob

    There’s a restaurant here in New Orleans that makes their grits with a roasted garlic and butter recipe that is just out of this world. They serve it as a side dish for their main entrees.

    I have heard of Brunswick Stew but have never tried it. Would love to find it or cook it and see.

    I absolutely love good Boudin, and my wife cooks a mean red beans and rice with andouille sausage with cathead biscuits.

  • So I'm from georgia and while I don't eat several of the foods on that list (because I'm a VERY picky eater) I do eat and love most of them!! I have to say it is a very foreign idea to use beef for barbecue. Sometimes you can have barbecue chicken (but you always specify thats its chicken) otherwise its always pork. And some foods I've never thought about being southern staples – like cornbread and catfish. I figured everybody ate those.

    Oh and you forgot one of the biggest staples ever – sweet tea!! Good luck finding that up north.

  • Oh, and I'm sure someone will flame me for this – but Texas isn't southern. Its south western. There's a big difference. Florida isn't southern either. The South stops at Georgia. ^_^

    And omg – i LOVE boiled peanuts. Classic friday night football game food.

  • Stone2065

    I guess I’m an oddball… my folks were from Arkansas and Oklahoma, and they both used BACON gravy, not sausage with their biscuits and gravy. Same method for making it, except you start with bacon grease (left over after frying up say a pound of bacon usually). A great meal was always:

    Biscuits & Gravy (bacon gravy)
    Bacon (that the grease came from)
    Eggs, runny yolks
    Toast, if needed

    THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was a meal you had in the morning, and could work well to lunch without getting hungry one whit.

  • Most of the people came to Texas from the southern states, so yes there is "Southern Cooking" in Texas. Brains and eggs as well as squarrel brains and dumplins were both old time favorites. Others not added were Chess Pie, pound cake, and cracklin bread.

  • Katerzj

    Mmm, unfortunately I am hungry! I should not have read this list!!!

    The brunch at the Myrtles Plantation, and all the wonderful dinners I have enjoyed throughout my life at Pat's of Henderson in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are the most delicious Southern dishes I've ever experienced, and is in the same league as home-cooked meals. I live in Texas, but my mom's family is from Louisiana, and visiting Louisiana has always meant scrumptious food.

    For those unfamiliar with gumbo, never accept a red one. The color is supposed to be brown, brown, brown, like the Atchafalaya River! The red gumbo is often found at chain restaurants that are likely unrelated to the South. Most likely, they don't make their own roux; there are some okay premade roux mixes if you really don't have the 10min to stir constantly, but you should make time for it because it is worth it. Lastly, never settle for instant grits!!! Just make 'em, they're easy.

    I have said that if I were confined to any one cuisine, it would be Cajun/Southern cuisine. There are ways to make it healthier or modified; fried things are great but it's not all that the South is about. This list IS archetypal.

    I'd like to know more about northern food, beyond the stereotypical coffee (everyone drinks that!), love of diners, bagels and Maine's lobster. That would be a good list, too!

  • Tiffani

    Been listverse lurking for a while now and I absolutely love it.

    I'm a Carolina girl, raised in northeastern SC. I have to admit that I am shocked that there was no mention of my favorite style of barbecue sauce, mustard based. The cold storage in town makes some incredibly good mustard barbecue sauce that I can imagine eating on just about any meat. Delicious!

    Boiled peanuts! Love love LOVE them. I married a "damn Yankee" from NJ, and he was repulsed by the idea of boiling a peanut until he tried them. Now, when they are in season, he buys several pounds over the season to boil at home. Not much better than a fresh salty boiled peanut!

    Something that is a local favorite here, Chicken Bog. Your 3 main ingredients: Chicken, rice, and sausage (I was taught to cook it with Hillshire smoked sausage, but a good seasoned breakfast sausage crumbled and precooked is excellent) . Some people add herbs or flavoring vegetables (onions, bell peppers, ect), but as long as you have a good stock for the rice to cook in, and have enough salt, I've never needed to add to it :) It is so popular around here that my town has a yearly festival called the Bog Off =P

  • Jay

    I finally know what Hank Williams was talking about! When he said file gumbo, I thought he meant filet gumbo. I'm glad to get that straightened out. Now I have to admit that I've never had file gumbo, but I LOVE Sassafras tea.

  • mimi

    give me soma dat friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeed chicken

  • Will

    The author completely left out mustard-based bbq, which is by far the best option.

  • Rowan

    Hmm… I’ve had every single one of the foods on this list. Makes me hungry.

  • Jack

    Now although i don't like half the stuff on this list, the stuff that i do like is so amazingly great that this is the best list i have seen on this website so far. The only thing that i have to say is that some of the entires may be better off by themselves like maybe biscuits and hush puppies. Ive heard of biscuits and gravy but even my grandmother who cooks nothing but southern food has ever mentioned cat fish and hush puppies. Ive heard of people eating catfish so maybe instead of catfish and hush puppies make it catfish as a seperate entry. But anyways this is a great list. No bads and im glad that the South gets some recognition especially my home state of North Carolina.

  • Jack

    Great list. I like most of this food but not all. Kind of sad considering i live in the south. I personally think that Number 3 should be Number 1 because i love fried chicken.

  • Real Southern Girl

    Re: baking corn bread in a cast iron skillet. What you do is you put a bit of oil or grease in the skillet, swirl to coat, and heat it up in the HOT oven BEFORE pouring the cornbread batter in. Then, when the batter hits the hot oiled pan, it will flash-fry the outside of it, making a delectable crunchy crust.

    You forgot the Ambrosia of the Gods SWEET POTATO PIE.

    You also forgot sorghum syrup, which has a very distinctive flavor, and gives biscuits and cornbread a reason to live.

    If you don't like boiled peanuts you can expect the rest of us to tch-tch! shake our heads, and wonder what went wrong with you.

  • ljd

    Great list. Of course grits were a noticeable omission. Two basic schools on grits; Water or milk. Most cook grits in water, but milk does help with a creaminess(properly achieved with water by stirring your grits as they cook.) Don’t forget the grind. I have noticed most people consider a coarse grind such as Hominy to be more upscale.
    Also, on bbq, I was raised on vinegar based in NC, but have been sadly surrounded by a mustard based bbq in the lowcountry of SC since moving there. I have even seen the use of “white” bbq sauce. Pretty much just mayo and buttermilk w/ seasoning. I blame hibachi for the last one.

  • Three comments:

    1. In response to “Jono’s” earlier comment, boiled crawdads are delicious, I highly recommend them if you like lobster.

    2. I was disappointed between the first and second place entries. All due respect to biscuits and gravy, Eastern North Carolina barbecue is the best food the South has to offer.

    3. A note on N.C. BBQ: I have it on good authority (an older fellow) that the vinegar-based sauce is a newer concoction, and the original was molasses-based. I’ve had both, and while the vinegar sauce is still amazing, the molasses recipe is just a little better.

  • Amanda

    red velvet cake? come on, can’t forge the cake!

  • Phil

    What about GRITS. You beat the subject of corn meal to death but leave out grits. Besides, commenters could have fought all day about sugar vs salt.

  • Hedwig

    You didn’t list shrimp and grits. A fav in South Carolina.

  • Kate J

    Texas isn’t the west coast, the east coast or the midwest, and it fought with the South during the Civil War, so I believe it may as well be considered the South. So SUCK IT, right?

    I’m Texan with Southern roots, and it’s exceptionally common for Texans to have such roots. I don’t expect you to understand that without you having lived here, but let’s not tell entire states full of millions of people to suck it.

  • durkay

    Love the list and it’s nice to see someone write in third person for a change! One thing, you called tomatoes a “fruit-like vegetable” when it’s really the other way around: technically a fruit, it is oft mistaken for a vegetable. This has nothing to do with its application or qualifing factors, but a throw-back on tariffs where fruits weren’t taxed but vegetables were (or was it the other way around?), so tomatoes were dubbed vegetables for tax purposes.

  • Soulpig

    Chicken and dressing, banana pudding, deviled eggs, caramel cake, chocolate gravy, fried chicken livers, pimiento and cheese. I can’t believe sweet tea was left off the list! Great list but a little wordy. It’s funny to read descriptions about stuff we eat down here.

    • nikki

      chicken liver is for catfishin :S i could never understand how ppl ate it

  • Amandaggogo

    I love most all of these foods. I must say though, I’m surprised that Chocolate Gravy and biscuits didn’t make it onto the list, That is a staple of the southern breakfast diet, at least here in Tennessee it is!
    And that reminds me, I may just cook up some gravy or chocolate gravy for breakfast tomorrow. :0)

  • Moss

    Oh man, I love every bit of this stuff… Well, except for the squirrel stew. No way in Hell am I going to eat my spirit animal.

  • Racheal

    Thanks for the awesome article! I’m off at college and this is reminding me of my mama’s chicken and dumplings and her Indian bread (fried dumpling dough)! Soooo hungry now! :)

  • Kate

    To those that were surprised that chocolate gravy wasn’t on the list, I think that is more of a southern Appalachiany thing. Most in the south wouldn’t be familiar with it unless they were from the mountains (KY, WV, parts of VA, NC, TN, SC, and GA).

    As for “SlickWilly” who labeled the Chesapeake as “northern”? Really?! First of all, south of the Mason-Dix0n line, and their food is straight up southern. Maryland is one of those conufusing border states where they don’t know whether they’re northern or southern, but their food is most certainly southern. I’m speaking as someone not actually from MD, but have visited a lot and their food is really good. Beaten biscuits, fried chicken, stuffed ham, crab cakes, mmmm. Just look at any cookbook on regional american cooking, Maryland is always lumped in with the south.

    I also had to comment on the statement about southern food being so unhealthy. Here’s the thing, my observation has been that those southerners that eat traditional southern foods were usually pretty slim and healthy, living long lives, while those that ate processed foods and fast foods were the fat ones. Our food gets an undeservedly bad rap on that. For example, there’s a reason the ‘pot-likker’ is saved from the pot where the greens have been cooked to death. First, it’s delicious, and second, very nutritious.

    My uncle is a tobacco farmer and every January him and the community get together and make Brunswick stew. They make it in vast quantities using hogs heads. My fam. always gets a few containers that have been frozen. Sooo good.

    My fam. is from VA/NC btw.

  • Samantha

    Wow, I’m an southern and I hate most of these dishes. I need to move lol

    • nikki

      yes…yes u do

  • AV

    Who wrote this list?! The wording is very disjointed. It doesnt flow. Whoever wrote it, please do some peer review before posting. I agree with the choices but I find your writing style very hard to read. I’ve read hundreds of lists on here and this is the only one I had to stop reading in the middle and could not go on.

    • CatChick

      Another grammar nazi troll.

      It’s a food list… no one cares how it’s worded… it’s the dishes that were left out that make it upsetting.

  • Tyler

    Although not a food, SWEET tea should have been added as a bonus! Great list. I could feel my arteries clogging by just reading it!

  • girlnbayou

    wow! im suprise no one blasted this for being too american. was wholly expecting that. IMO there is no food better than south louisiana fare. Takes the best from all cultures and blends it seamlessly. With influences from France, Spain, African even some Asian cuisine,how could one possibly ask for better?

  • Reggae

    List is too American

    • CatChick

      Ya think?

      Maybe that’s because it’s called “15 Archetypal Southern American Foods”?

  • ShoresLady

    My mother’s Green Fried Tomatoes came from our garden and were served as part of a fabulous fried chicken dinner. Tomato slices dipped in cornmeal were pan fried and then served with a milk-based gravy made with the fried chicken drippings. A vital step: including the pulp of a red, ripe tomato in the final gravy for sweetness, Oh how I miss it.

  • Amina

    Being born and raised in the South, I’ve had all of these foods!

  • Anonymously Yours

    I’m from Georgia and I hate half the foods on this list. Especially number 1. This list is very accurate though.

    • HillbillyFoodie

      Your GA eviction notice is in the mail….

  • Trey hutchings

    A lot of people don’t consider Texas part of the south. However, I grew up eating all of this food (besides jambalaya, gross) and enjoyed all of it here in Texas!

    • nikki

      how is texas not part of the south? anymore south and yer in mexico lol

  • nikki

    my mom makes corn bread in a cast iron skillet just like that! and in West Virginia we pretty much eat whatever we kill, raise, or grow most of the time. and ive tried and loved most of this except okra, brunswick stew and gumbo

  • HillbillyFoodie

    Great list , but I kinda wondered about the huge one you didn’t mention. GRITS! How the heck do you make a southern list without grits? It’s not just for breakfast either, low country style shrimp in grits is as fine as any pasta dish for dinner. The issue with it is no one else seems to know how to cook it, or it’s many varieties, Cheesy grits, Red Eye Gravy n grits, and of course good old Butter, Salt& Pepper. Also on Okra….yes fried okra is a standard, (pan fried being the only true southern form) but for me Okra is so much more it is to me what shrimp was for Bubba Gump, I could name 50 ways to use this wonderful vegtable. But the dish that okra is used for other then “frying” that is most southern, and I mean old old old school southern, is Hop N’ Johns…..and this is just what new years is all about. This is just ritual, and like almost all southern heritege has African origin both in origin and it’s new years connection. But it’s not new years without Hop’ N John’s in white famlies as well. Made with Okra stewed with tomatoes, and onions, mixed with Black eyed Peas cooked with a hamhock, served over rice…..that is just down right filthy southern, it can not be beat. In general Black Eyed Peas, and Field Peas probably deserve their own spot as both are southern staple. Also Yams, and sweet potatoes in general again the African influence dominates all southern cooking you will never go to any pot luck in teh south and not find sweet potato or yams, usually it’s in a souffle form with walnuts and cinamon crowning. Second and not far behind African dishes are Native American dishes too, like Succotash which is lima beans and corn and occaisionally a few other things added cooked with butter or fat, the importance of Sassafras as file and use for seasoning is really lost on people tryingt o cook couthern but not from here…it’s often the missing ingredient by people who think the trinity is just the trinity. I know it’s not a food per say but Southern Style tea is really lost everywhere else too, it’s made strong not this weak stuff I find outside the south, always good old black tea Lipton is my fav (sorry Luzianne), but make it strong and you do not need to sacrifice a suger plantation to it, in fact most famlies I know in East TN never add suger and simply have a suger bowl for those sweet tooths…I never put suger in my tea, but I never consider it dinner without Tea. But the fact you chose Biscuit and Gravy as the number 1 southern food makes the list, as that is just an insight usually only a local understands, but it is the roux form that is king….Biscuits with Sausage Gravy over it is just all you need to take on the world….they joke that southerners are raised on Grits and we do eat alot of grits growing up, or did…… but truth be said it’s the gravy and biscuits we love most. And the quality of the family white Gravy recipe is fought over here the way proud chili recipes are in the southwest. I would not be surprised if thousands of lives have been lost by those that did not concur that someone’s mama’s gravy was not the best they had had. Perhaps Pickling should be discussed for another day as well.

  • HillbillyFoodie

    Had to make additional post on two things Grits, and Southern vs South Western. Let’s start with why as far as food is concerned Texas and south west is NOT southern cooking, though Texans certainly do eat and cook southern food too. Basically what we call “southern” food, is a Blend of African, south eastern native American, and British/German/French. Southwestern introduces more elements of Spanish, and southwestern native American traditions. We don’t lump Italian French and German foods together, and honestly they are closer together then the different traditional agriculture and foods eaten by various native American groups, which should not be lumped together, as native Americans where just as diverse….so they are rightly separated.

    On that point Grits….this is as old school south eastern as it gets because it’s ultimately Native American food. Cherokee Creek etc…. All grits are is Corn that has been dried and gone through nixtamalization process same as hominy, and in fact that is all Grits really is; dried hominy ground up coarsely. Someone said it’s just ground corn meal that is NOT true it has to be prepared just like hominy whether with weak lye or limewater process. That tradition of treating the corn in this way goes all the way down through Mexico as far as native Americans are concerned. Hominy being a major staple if their diet… Grits and Hominy are whether in Southern or Texas or Mexican fare is just as AMERICAN as it gets…but I don’t think it was used as much by north eastern tribes as they may not have had the same issues of storage that required that process to make it last. Anyway… Grits, like Sassafras for “File”, Succotash, cornmeal, Squash, Pumpkin, etc and catfish etc….all come from our Native American influences…in Appalachia you find a stronger native American injection into the culture, reality is a lot of men came to southern colonies and not as many women…every Hillbilly and Appalachian family has Cherokee, Creek, Powhatan etc heavily in their blood. This is also a large part of the mistrust of government whether Union or Confederate….in these regions as the trail of tears is half the story most Native Americans didn’t leave they simply became more inter married then they already were and would not admit to any Native American blood because as they had seen you could lose your home, and everything if you did….Appalachia is just it’s own distinct southern culture, just as is low country (coastal Carolina), etc….we could split “southern food into several other regional types as well.

    Europeans influences come into our food as well but they come in obviously from north to south, what separates the south the most is the huge influx of African tradition, and while a few racist southerners may hate to admit it, southern culture is really 50% or more African culture…it is a part of our food, our myths, and just permeates all things “southern”. This is where many of our uniquely Southern foods come from Okra, Yams, Black Eyed Peas, etc were all brought from Africa with the slaves, and quickly became southern favorites and staples. Southern food is African/Native American/European food mix. I think most southerners despite what TV tells you are proud of this influence and our food, people from outside who believe all the Tv propaganda just don’t know, and you can watch their heads start to explode when they see a pickup truck with a rebel flag on it and expect some stereotype, and when it’s black owner comes back smiles and says “howdy”, and hops in his truck you can’t almost see their brains pop out. It makes perfect sense to us….sorry you don’t get it.

    Lastly, on grits, people eat them many ways, but there is no fight of sugar vs salt, if you use sugar, you simply are not southern…you’re fooling yourself. I have only seen people from up north and border states do that. Also if the only grits you have had are the bulk grocery store, and waffle house variety you have never really had good Grits. If you ever see a place selling Grits from operating Stone Mill get Stone ground Grits….I am not a food scientist so i can’t say whyit makes it so different but it is a night and day difference, ask Alton Brown why. This is the sort of grits eaten traditionally and it is just creamier….something about how they chemically prepare the mass produced grits destroys the flavor and texture…it will work in a fix but it’s not the same. Most southerners jsut butter and salt and pepper their grits, I love a little white sausage gravy in mine, others use red eye gravy on coast….basically something that adds salt and fat…is how most southerners eat them.

  • Aurjay

    Finally some validation! People have been looking at me like I’m crazy for years whenever I have cornbread and milk. My Yankee girlfriend absolutely refuses to even try it. one little addition Is I sometimes add just a little sugar to it if all I have is plain milk.

  • tbennett009

    mmmm pecan pie and fried chicken :P

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