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Old 09-13-2002, 11:19 PM   #1
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Praise the South.

Indeed, the southeastern quarter of the United States (more commonly known as "The South") has had its share of problems, most notably race relations - the evil institution of slavery and its bastard child of forced segregation.

THAT SAID, there are some truly great things about my home, The South. Since I've spent the last year in Pittsburgh, since I have another year of grad school ahead of me, and since I just cooked myself a brilliant Southern dinner, I thought it a good time to praise the South.

In this post, I will bring all y'all's attention to the food.

I believe that Southern food not only holds its own against the rest of the world, but that - in its finest moments - it is possibly the best food on the planet.

I'm part-Italian; my grandfather was conceived in Italy and born here in the good ol' U.S. of A. Without question, I certainly embrace my grandfather's Italian heritage and cuisine. I am now the fourth generation to have learned his mother's recipe for marinara - a recipe that I will keep a family secret and pass on to my children; a recipe that has spoiled me for all time, so that I can't stomach that Ragu crapola; a recipe SO GOOD, you can eat the sauce cold and by itself.

I've begun to take a liking to Indian food (chicken vindaloo - yum), and I like Greek, Mexican, and a little Oriental food. But just LOOK at what we Southerners have wrought:

- Creole / Cajun food
- chile
- barbecue
- fried chicken
- fried turkey (yes, deep-fat fried turkey)
- cornbread
- boiled peanuts (pronounced "bolled peanuts")
- PECAN PIE

My marinara recipe aside, Southern food kicks ass.

I know a mean chile recipe (another family secret), and my mom's recently taught me her mother's trick in cooking pecan pie. But tonight? Tonight I broke the pattern of microwave dinners and scavenging for whatever I can find and cooked an honest-to-God meal:

Sausage jambalaya with cornbread.

Granted, I cooked both from store-bought mixes, but they turned out QUITE well.

The jambalya mix I used is Zatarain's New Orleans style mix. These guys have been based in New Orleans for over a century, and they know what they're doing. I added in the variation 8 oz. of plain tomato sauce, and I took heed of this suggestion:

Use chicken or seafood for mild Jambalaya. Use smoked sausage for spicier, stronger flavored Jambalaya.

I wanted spicy, so I used smoked sausage - "Hot Links" with red chili peppers. That'll put hair on your chest.

I could have ALSO cooked "Mexican cornbread" (with Jalapeno), but I'm not that damn stupid. I cooked the plain cornbread in my great-grandmother's cast-iron skillet - I have more inexplicable success with that skillet - and I've figured out how to get the cornbread out: if you just undercook it, one hard jostly should loosen the whole bread. Flip it onto a plate, flip it right-side-up, and voila.

A bowl of jambalaya, a couple wedges of cornbread, a glass of milk (or two), and Willie Nelson in the background.

Lovely - and I recommend everyone give Southern food a try.
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Old 09-14-2002, 12:07 AM   #2
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wink

you forgot to give a shout out to those Georgia Peaches, nothing like a little southern hospitality

what's interesting is, since I live in Northern Virginia just outside of DC, it still has more of a nothern or yankie feel to it (I grew up in NJ in parts between Philly and NY), but when you get down towards Fredericksburg and further down to Richmond or over in Blacksburg (where Virginia Tech is located), it's another world...

jambalaya is amazing with the spicy chorizo or spanish sausage, or even regular italian sausage for that matter, and shrimp of course works extremely well too, got to love the Cajun food (and Cajun Man), and of course all the great pies that southerners specialize in, mmm.....
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Old 09-14-2002, 12:21 AM   #3
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I have a friend form here who has moved to California; believe it or not, she misses such Southern delicacies as Waffle House and Krystal.

~U2Alabama
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Old 09-14-2002, 12:52 PM   #4
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Kentucky hot browns
grits with lots of cheese
homemade biscuits with homemade apple butter
derby pie
CASSEROLES!!!!
barbeque sandwiches

My dad makes the best chili.
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Old 09-14-2002, 01:23 PM   #5
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A friend of mine from high school also went to Auburn and graduated a few years before me. He came back from Dallas to recruit for his company, and he took me and another high-school buddy out for dinner.

His choice? KRYSTAL, which he too misses.

(Good stuff, but I've never been a big fan of mustard, raw onion, OR pickle: the combination's never been too attractive for me.)

Certainly, Southern home-cookin' is awesome, but Bama brings up a good point: we have killer restaurants - if you don't judge a book by its cover.

Take Waffle House. On the surface, it's just a bright yellow diner, nothing special. But, depending on the WH you go to, the breakfast is QUITE good. And in Southern small towns, WH being open, serving breakfast 24/7 is a GREAT thing.

And need I mention Krispy Kreme?

Consider the local eateries:

Milo's Hamburgers (Birmingham, AL) - as addictive as crack. It's a small chain of cheap burger joints, but it's so much more. Their special sauce is TRULY special (and tasty with their fries, sprinkled with cheese salt). And their tea is SO good that they sell it in gallons in local grocery stores.

McGuire's Irish Pub (Pensacola, Destin, FL) - while Milo's is my heroin, McGuire's is my Chardonney. It is, without question, my favorite restaurant. One of the world's finest steakhouses, its burgers (3/4 lb. of ground steak) are delicious. Throw in their surprisingly tasty fries, top it with a Irish Bash Cream Pie for dessert, and you have a perfect meal. Add to it the atmosphere:

- 300,000(!) one-dollar bills on the walls and ceilings, placed there by satisfied customers.

- Irish music playing in the background, including Notre Dame's fight song - and live music at night and the occasional random appearance of McGuire's bagpipe band.

- The mounted animal heads in the pub room: on one's birthday, one is often required to "kiss the moose."

- The restrooms. To say more would spoil the surprise.

Momma Goldbergs' Deli (Auburn, AL) - a hole-in-the-wall shack just outside the campus of lovely Auburn University. Really great sandwiches, a pool table, and a dart board make it just a great place to hang out... and it MUST be the reason we don't judge books by their covers. The ugliest building in Auburn (not counting the University's nearby Lowder building) has the BEST sammiches.

Throw in the countless great barbecue joints that dot the South (Tuscaloosa's Dreamland, Birmingham's Golden Rule) and one thing becomes clear:

WE RULE.
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Old 09-14-2002, 01:29 PM   #6
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Grits! I forgot about grits!

Okay, there are two things that the South definitely has over Pittsburgh and the North in terms of breakfast foods: grits and buttermilk buscuits.

Grits are awesome because they're the ONLY hot breakfast that works well if you add in sugar and butter - OR cheese and bacon.

And buttermilk biscuits... why would one have bagels or English muffins when you can have a biscuit? They're simply better.

...and they provide you a way to REALLY freak out Yankees: biscuits and gravy. Yummy as it is, the idea just SCARES them - much like hot bolled peanuts, a football tradition.
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Old 09-14-2002, 01:30 PM   #7
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Pecan Pie is excellent. We always have some of it on our way down to FLA.

Is fried chicken and fried turkey really conceived in the south? I've had it in a number of Eastern European countries, and it's a well known tradition there, so that's why I ask.

Not a huge fan of Cajun food.
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Old 09-14-2002, 01:45 PM   #8
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Hmm... well, like a lot of other American traditions, I'm sure we've borrowed fried poultry from someone else. That said, Southern fried chicken may be a very different recipe, and fried turkey is more prevalent in the South than anywhere else in the U.S.

Heck, Cajan/Creole food is the result of different cultures clashing - French, Spanish, African, and Carribean. I completely understand not having a taste for it; I used to not like it for years. It's what I consider a "controversial" food. Not everybody likes it, but those that do like, LOVE it.

And pecan pie... freaking awesome. My mom's told me that her younger brother was too picky to even TRY my grandmother's pecan pie for a LONG time: further proof that he's a dumbass.
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Old 09-14-2002, 02:04 PM   #9
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mmmmm....biscuits and gravy.....

Okay, I need to call and arrange a visit to my grandmothers NOW.
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Old 09-14-2002, 02:16 PM   #10
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I also had a whole bunch of other stuff with pecans in it - pecan roll, some kind of pecan buns (like cinnamon buns, but with pecans) and it's all absolutely addictive! I love the distinct flavour and the sweetness of it all. It's the one thing I really wish we had up north.

Forgot about cornbread. Good stuff there too.

Grits = not so much. LOL. Sorry, I just find it bland.
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Old 09-14-2002, 03:05 PM   #11
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Yeah, to me, hot cereals (grits, oatmeal, cream of wheat) are all naturally bland unless there's something added to it: sugar, maple syrup, etc.

What amazes me about grits is that cheese and bacon taste good with 'em: can you imagine "cheese and bacon oatmeal"? I certainly can't.
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Old 09-14-2002, 03:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
...and they provide you a way to REALLY freak out Yankees: biscuits and gravy. Yummy as it is, the idea just SCARES them - much like hot bolled peanuts, a football tradition.
I'm not from the South, but I LOVE biscuits and gravy. I've never even heard of boiled peanuts, though.
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Old 09-15-2002, 07:25 PM   #13
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Keep in mind Cajun food comes from the Acadians who happen to have been from up around here.
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Old 09-15-2002, 08:17 PM   #14
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Like I said, the South has borrowed from a LOT of other cultures, but the combination is, I believe, unique and undeniable.

Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's shades
I'm not from the South, but I LOVE biscuits and gravy. I've never even heard of boiled peanuts, though.
Well, boiled peanuts are exactly as they sound: you take raw peanuts (in the shell) and boil them in salt water - with a little flavoring, if you like. There not at all dry, like roasted peanuts... to the point that detractors deem boiled peanuts to be "slimy."

But, if you don't mind the texture of wet mushrooms (used on pizzas more than salads) or oysters and other seafood, you might like boiled peanuts.

Hot boiled peanuts are EXCELLENT on a cold football gameday.
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Old 09-15-2002, 09:46 PM   #15
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Georgia peach here!

oh the Beautiful South ... I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. wave:

so yea, i am a G.R.I.T.S lady (Girls Raised In The South)
:
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