I think all cooks take pride in their heritage, their culture, their traditions, and their families' recipes, and this is even more pronounced in the South, where added to the other ingredients is warm, inviting, slow-sweet-suthun-drawl hospitality. Southern cooks feel a moral obligation to cook just a little extra in case an unexpected guest may arrive, and no one ever leaves hungry from this Southern lady's house, which might explain why I also feed three to four stray cats every evening, plus two of my own.
"Southerners can't stand to eat alone. If we're going to cook a mess of greens we want to eat them with a mess of people." ~ Julie Reed
"My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with." ~ Oprah Winfrey
Delicious meals, slow-cooked and hearty, prepared with seasonal, locally grown produce, meats, milks, and cheeses by time-honored recipes nourish the heart and the soul. In the South, we cook and eat to celebrate, to console, to entertain, to nurture and to nourish.
Ask any Southerner what makes Southern Cooking and you are sure to get many, many answers:
Meat from animals and parts of animals you never thought edible,
Influences from Europe, Africa, Mexico, the Carribean, French-Canadian, and indigenous Native America,
Recipes cooked with lowly foodstuffs when times were hard,
Recipes cooked with rare delicacies when blessings were abundant,
Recipes cooked with a little Jack Daniels sipping whiskey,
And they are all right answers.
Southern cooking was Fusion-inspired before anyone ever thought to call it Fusion food... English fruitcakes made with native, wild pecans and stews from local hunted game thickened with African okra. And who can think of Southern Food without thinking of pork... Country ham, pork barbeque, bacon? We can thank Spaniard Hernando de Soto for that one, an appreciated, yet accidental gift from Spain.
And don't forget the presentation. Evah. One of my favorite expressions is "it's all in the presentation, darlin'." A Southerner will not consider a meal fully prepared until the table is set with coordinating tableclothes, napkins, silverware, stemware, and china. Noticed I said "coordinating." Most southern cooks take pride in mixing Grandma's vintage linens with oddball pieces of china collected from yard sales. It adds character. If you have trouble with this step, simply add fresh flowers.
If you want to join me on this culinary adventure through Southern cuisine, I invite you to don a colorful, vintage apron, pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea and practice saying "Darlin" like you mean it. Recipes are catagorized up and to the right, so dive in. Most of these recipes are also fully prepared posts on the main page of this blog, with additional information regarding origins or some other interesting tidbits of information, along with pictures of preparing the dish.