What Is Southern Cooking Anyway?

Find southern cooks of many influences in the green areas.
Find southern cooks of many influences in the green areas.
Southern staples........
Southern staples........

Southern Techiniques

Dredge...

Dust....

Coat....

Batter...

Pan Fry.....

Deep Fry......

Roast...

Grill......

Boil....

Simmer.....

Dip.....

Butter.....

Cream....

Heavy cream.......

Bacon grease.......

Lard.......

Day old bread.......

Take a brown paper bag.......

Using your iron skillet......

Bring out the dutch oven.....

All of these are among the terms any good southern cook is familiar with, they probably extend beyond our borders.

Can 'southern cooking' be defined?

Southern Food

Fried Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Seared steak

Slow simmered pot roast

Turnip Greens

Polk salad

Pimento cheese

Buttermilk anything......

Cornbread

Squash casserole

Hickory smoked meats

Battered and fried peppers

Okra and tomatoes........a combination I never saw until I lived in Texas

Georgia Peaches

Vidalia onions

Gulf coast seafood

Cajun........a world unto itself

Pork Roast......

White Gravy....

Brown gravy...

Gravy and biscuits.......

 

Texican.....

Southwest style...........

Is one large pot big enough?

The 'south' is bigger than you may know, and we have regions.......the Carolinas, the Virginias, Georgia, Alabama, the western southern states, going into Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Creole and Cajun, no, they are not the same......Mississippi, even Florida is a 'southern state', though, it is probably more often thought of as a travel and vacation destination.

Africa, Cuba, Mexico, pioneers, plantation owners, sugar, cotton, citrus, tobacco, farmers, ranchers,.......many peoples have an influence in what is loosely known as southern food.

So do substitutions used by each culture. Chicory in your coffee, oatmeal in your pecan pie?

Squash, tomatoes, corn, grits, as well as the practice of deep pit barbecuing were inherited from the southeastern Native American tribes such as the Caddo, Choctaw, and Seminole. Southern cooking is regional. Whether from the Texas plains, the Appalachian Mountains, or under the influences of the Caribbean, Southern Food, is simple, made from what is available, is filling and just plain tastes good.

Many people try to copy a southern recipe and are disappointed. Many cooks have shared this with me........ Why?

An egg is an egg, and chicken is chicken...

Can New Yorkers cook southern food?
Can New Yorkers cook southern food?
You gotta have bread..........
You gotta have bread..........
Got to have this!
Got to have this!

Soul and Southern.......

When driving a truck, I stopped in a northeastern cafe, which boasted a hand written sign, " Authentic Southern Cooking".

Being in a foul mood, I asked the hostess, yes, I was this ugly, " what does a Yankee know about southern food?".   Her reply made sense, she said, " we hire cooks from the south, and pay them to move up here".  She was apparently accustomed to rude people like me!

To make it southern, you have to learn to put your love, your soul , into it.

For many people, cooking is something you 'do', for the southern cook, it is what you 'are'.

We are judged by our peers........no self respecting southern cook would show up at the church social with gummy rice, too thin banana pudding, dry ham.......we would risk the mortgage for another chance to correct our mistakes, yet, the immediate family is expected to eat the 'misadventure'..........just do not tell your Gramma.

This is hard and detailed stuff, being a southern and gentile lady of the house! We deserve that mint julep! It has been earned just by surviving the pressure of our peers.

My own granddaughter, a little southern belle, waiting for her supper.
My own granddaughter, a little southern belle, waiting for her supper.

When A Chicken Becomes More Than A Chicken

People all over the world, fry chicken. When you look for a recipe, do you look for " world fried chicken", "US fried chicken" or, "southern fried chicken"?

With hundreds of recipes for southern fried chicken, it is the center of more debates than perhaps any other food item. From the seasoning and coating to the fat and cooking time, discussions of southern fried chicken can start some lively debates throughout the South. Skin on, skin removed, single dip, or double dip the chicken in batter. Some fry in oil, some in butter, others in lard or bacon grease.

The batter itself has led to lasting family feuds. The 'wrong' batter, could label you an undeserving wife!

Should I want a recipe for clam chowder, I would specify " Boston Clam Chowder". If I need instructions on making tortillas, I ask those of the Mexican culture. Sure, like chicken, they can be made anywhere, but there is a trusted unofficial authority. Perhaps, southern cooks are trusted, because we also grow our vegetables and raise our meats.

 

Iced tea?
Iced tea?
Lemonade?
Lemonade?

Just What Part of the South?

We segregate ourselves. We do. There is the cornbread south, the pecan pie south, the grits, the hog jowl, the lemonade. Banana pudding does not cut the mustard everywhere!

On the southern coast, seafood takes the spotlight from fried chicken. Only in Texas and Louisiana, do you mix tomatoes and okra. In my own hometown, it was fried okry. Beware of regional dishes, be very aware. You will not recover from taking the wrong southern dish. It will haunt you all the days of your life, even after you leave the territory, the memory will follow.......I would never serve cornbread with chicken. There is a place where this is done. Grits with fish? Yuk, but I am careful where I might say this aloud. Baked beans from a can? I do not know of any southern place where this will not ostracise you!

Trust me, I am both a southern cook and a traveler.

All This Food

Not all southern women are good cooks. For those of us that are, we take pride in feeding you. Those ladies who lack the skills, do not pretend, they offer to take you out to eat. Only a southerner can tell the difference. A visitor may deem them generous, and in their own degree, they are.

It is among our greatest fears and embarrassments, that you would require something than can not be found in our cupboards or refrigerators. We take this as a personal slight.........we really do.

If you do not like our cooking, it is an insult to us and our ability.

For us not to have it to offer................it is the height of embarrassment, we have failed in hospitality.

You must have something to drink as well. Tea? Lemonade? Juice, squeezed from our own hands? There is also coffee and fresh milk.

Well, it's a short ride to the county line and the package store. Your comfort is of the utmost importance.

Tell us of your tastes and desires, we are here to serve , to feed, and to accommodate.  We take pride in doing just those things.

What Others Had To Say.......

 

Peter Allison 2 weeks ago

For a people who are so accommodating and eager to please - you sure do lay down a lot of rules! LOL... Having lived in South Carolina (working on the back deck of a shrimp boat) and having spent a lot of time working on documentary films in Appalachia, I concur, Southern cooking is an art that extends way beyond simply working the oven-range and laying food on the table. It involves time, patience, good storytelling skills - and yes, a fair numbers of 'principles' to adhere to! Thanks for the hub!

More by this Author


Comments 35 comments

jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 5 years ago from San Juan, PR

Do you cater part time by any chance? Even though it would cost me a nice chunk of change, I'd love to get some of your cooking fedexed to my front door. This deep southerner really loves that southern food from up north. LOL....Merry Christmas to you and yours OGW, JR


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Jrsearam,

Catering is one of those dreams, that got

put to the back burner, while I was rearing

my family........some things just have to take

priority! Making a living for our family

comes before our dreams..

So Very Good to see you again. It seems as

though it has been half of forever.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

I love all kinds of food from everywhere but those damn grits and okra....yuk!! I think you gotta' be from the south to like that stuff. Oh that fried chicken and country ham though..good hub, Peace!! Tom


lcg4jc profile image

lcg4jc 5 years ago

Your grandbaby is beautiful. What patience she exudes in waiting for her supper. Absolutely adorable. Thank you for the hub it was great, now I am so hungry for all those wonderful mouth watering ... Okay, I gotta go, I really am hungry now. Great hub. :)


tmbridgeland profile image

tmbridgeland 5 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

Southern cooking extends a ways up into Illinois as well. I grew up on it.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 5 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you for a great hub, I enjoyed it. Keep up the good works. Godspeed. creativeone59


Peter Allison profile image

Peter Allison 5 years ago from Alameda, CA

For a people who are so accommodating and eager to please - you sure do lay down a lot of rules! LOL... Having lived in South Carolina (working on the back deck of a shrimp boat) and having spent a lot of time working on documentary films in Appalachia, I concur, Southern cooking is an art that extends way beyond simply working the oven-range and laying food on the table. It involves time, patience, good storytelling skills - and yes, a fair numbers of 'principles' to adhere to! Thanks for the hub!


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

I've never liked grits, but while in TN a few years ago, I did eat at nearly every restaurant along the TN River, and there are quite a few catfish ones there. No one makes hush puppies like Southern folks.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Justom,

I don't like grits or hominy either,

my hubby does. He's frome southern

California. There's no ryhme or reason.

thanks for coming by!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Lcg4jc,

Did you eat? :)

Thank you for the compliment

to my little granddaughter. You

can just imagine that we adore her!

Good to see you again.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

tmbridgeland,

Good to see you friend.

Hence the name, " what is it anyway"?

It involves custom and attitude.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Creativeone59,

Thanks for coming by. I am

glad you enjoyed it.

It is good to have you here.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Peter Allison,

New readers are welcome here!

My old school Grandmothers, just

expected you to instinctely know

the 'rules', inside the kitchen

and out.

"Good storytelling" is what we

refer to as the 'art of southern

embellishment'. sshhhh......

Thanks for coming by!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Bobbirant,

You are right, and I don't know

how I failed to mention, that not

every southern cook has mastered

catfish.

Thanks for coming by. Merry

Christmas to you and your husband.


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

Im not a big grits fan either. We southern folks do know how to cook. I should not have read this when i was hungry. Delicious hub. Food for the soul is always best.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Hey Fullerman5000,

You know it!

Thanks for coming by, its

good to see you~~


Judicastro profile image

Judicastro 5 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

Oh dear friend I have a feeling that we could heat up a kitchen with some of our cookin'!! When my children can't come home for the holidays I hunt for people I can feed! Pray you are doing well. You settled yet?

blessings!

j


bettybarnesb profile image

bettybarnesb 5 years ago from Bartlett, TN

Hey dear, you must have read my hub!!! Got a "Southern Fried Chicken Recipe." I don't know what else to call it because I am from the South. You remind me of my daughters. They would make some of the same remarks! Great hub. Merry Christmas!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Judicastro,

I have finally made it back to the farm!

Hoping for a short winter, looking forward

to spring chickens, a goat and gardens!

So fortunate to have found this spot, about

20 miles outside 'the city'.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Bettybarnesb,

How nice to see you. I did

make it a point to go and read

your hub. A platter of your

fried chicken would be welcome

at any table!


giselle2323 profile image

giselle2323 5 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

Your Granddaughter is precious. How old is she? I think my Emma has all the makings of a Southern Bell. I think I need to buy that house next door. I love to eat. Words like "dust, coat, batter, pan fry, deep fry" bring me to sheer joy! ok i have to stop. i am way too hungry. if we ever get a chance to meet, i hope I have the opportunity to taste true Southern cooking from a woman who not only has become dear to me, but understands that food is so much more than something that we just eat.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I would be a disgrace to all you southern belles, I'm afraid...I have never made fried chicken! Yikes...I even admitted that on your hub :) I do enjoy reading all about your cooking though...food tells so much about the culture of a people. Enjoy reading all your tales!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

FloBe.........

A disgrace? I think not!

YOU would be our guest~~~

Glad you enjoy.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Giselle,

Thank you! She turned 2 in early December.

It seems you have summed up my message well......

good food is more than what we eat, it is about

the food, the prep and why we take such care.


Judicastro profile image

Judicastro 5 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

Oh I rejoice with your place of joy! Bloom dear friend as I know you will!! Will there be pics forthcoming? Have a wonderful Christmas. Wish you were close.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Thanks Judi,

Merry Christmas to you as well!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

My friend Justom is crazy, Okra rocks!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Wesman Todd Shaw......

Thanks for the chuckle! It is among my favorites,

when fried. My 'southern charm' would not allow

for me to force anyone!

Thanks for coming by, new readers are always

welcome here!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

What a delightful read. I love it! I have an extensive collection of cast iron, much found in the south while visiting, I cook and bake in nothing but! IT's healthy and a good work out while moving it about cooking and cleaning. Katie :)


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Katiem2,

You know, I never thought of that, but they do get heavy!

Thanks so much for coming by for a read, hope to see you again~~


cheapsk8chick profile image

cheapsk8chick 5 years ago

What a great hub! I am an Iowa transplant from South Carolina. I find it amazing that the meat and dairy are SO wonderful here, and no one seems to know how to cook it! Someone told me not long ago that they like going to Cracker Barrel for their Southern cooking! Ha! There are no shrimp & grits on their menu!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Cheapsk8chick,

Welcome to my hub~

Its wonderful that you are now at

home in the south. Adapting to a new

region can be difficult.

Sometimes the best cooks are tucked away

in smaller privately owned diners. Getting

to know them can be a wealth of information

on cooking and kitchen ideas.


Brit-Wifey profile image

Brit-Wifey 5 years ago from UK

Great hub! I too am a Southerner & love to cook. Thinking of opening a southern food place in the UK! Not sure if the Brits are ready for it or not {yet}! :)


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Brit-Wifey,

They are ready! Everyone appreciates good food.

Do US proud~~

Thanks so much for reading my hub, and most of all....welcome to HP.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

There's nothing like real Southern food. As for fried chicken, well, Southern fried chicken is a small slice of heaven. Up and awesome.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working