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Strange foods from the South

Being from the South, you grow up eating things at your home and family functions without question. However, as you grow older you start to notice that not everyone appreciates certain foods from the South. People from other regions are often puzzled by our distinctive cuisine. There are too many items to count but I have broken down a list of my personal favorites. 

  1. Pear salad: This is often served as an appetizer at Sunday lunch or social gatherings. It consists of canned pear halves topped with a dollop of mayo, sprinkling of cheddar cheese and a cherry if you’re feeling particularly festive. It’s an acquired taste for sure. Especially, if you’re not the biggest fan of mayonnaise.
  2. Pepper jelly and cream cheese: It’s as simple as it sounds and absolutely delicious. This is an excellent starter for parties, holidays and general get togethers. You basically top a brick of softened cream cheese with any pepper jelly of your choosing and eat with crackers. I prefer the green kind but the red or orange is also pretty for Christmas.
  3. Fried pickles: I was at a catfish restaurant with my family in seventh grade when I first heard of these. Fried pickles just seemed weird but my grandfather urged me to try it. I gingerly dipped one in ranch, took the tiniest nibble and never looked back. I probably finished the whole basket by myself. This experience taught me to be more open minded about food. So…..good!!!
  4. Boiled peanuts: I was at work and innocently brought a ziplock bag of boiled peanuts to snack on during the day. I offered one to a coworker from Indiana that was in town for a training. He took one look and flipped out at the very notion. Like, had a conniption. He asked, “But why? Why are they wet?!?!?” Don’t knock it until you try it. Some like them boiled in plain salt and others like to spice it up with some Cajun seasoning.
  5. Poke salad: I heard about this one from an elder I was visiting. She described to me how she would pick pokeweed from around the yard when she was a child. Then her Mom had to boil it three times or they could poison you. Like, what? Seriously? Upon research, I learned that this was true. The pokeweed grows in abundance and resourceful folks learned how to prepare it safely to enjoy. I’ve never tried it. I respect the ingenuity but will leave this one to the elders.
  6. Pimento cheese: This was also an acquired taste for me growing up due in part to my slight aversion to mayo. Also, the kind that Mom bought out of a plastic container was day-glo orange color and slightly gross. I learned to appreciate it more when I tasted homemade versions. Pimento cheese is a versatile spread that you can season and customize to taste. I love it with crackers, in a sandwich or even warm on a burger. My fave mix-ins are jalapeño and bacon!
  7. Cornbread and milk: You basically crumble up leftover cornbread in the bottom of a glass and pour cold milk over it. Many prefer buttermilk. My grandma often ate this as a snack at night. I tried it once. Almost died because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should eat or drink it and ended up having to choke it down. 
  8. Grits: This is a Southern staple. You can eat grits for breakfast, lunch or dinner. As kids, my siblings and I liked them with butter and sugar. I prefer mine now with cheddar cheese. My husband likes his with butter and crumbled bacon. Grits are also great with shrimp!
  9. Fried gator tail: This is a Cajun specialty. Alligators are hunted and sold for their skin, however there is good meat in the tail. The meat is cut up and fried and usually served with a spicy sauce. I first tried it when working at a Cuban restaurant and feeling particularly adventurous. It tasted like chicken! I also had a gator tail Po’boy at a Cajun restaurant in Florida that was quite delicious. 
  10. Sweet tea: The drink of the South. You usually can’t find this in restaurants outside of the South except at McDonald’s. Someone may offer you iced tea with some sugar packets but it’s not the same. You can buy Milo’s in the gallon or brew your own. I like to use Lousianne with either Domino or Dixie sugar.
  11. Chocolate gravy ‘n’ biscuits: I didn’t even know about this one until a few years ago. Someone posted a list of southern foods on FB to poll how many you’ve tried and I saw this and said what?!? How did I not know about this? I love biscuits and adore chocolate but together?🤯 I must try it! I found a recipe for southern chocolate gravy on Allrecipes.com. I halved the ingredients since this was an experimental batch. Here goes: 

You will need: 1/8 cup cocoa, 1.5 T of all purpose flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 cup milk, 1/2 T of butter, 1 t vanilla

To prepare: Whisk cocoa, flour and sugar together until smooth with no lumps. (Little hands can help with this part). Whisk milk into mixture and once smooth, pour into saucepan and stir constantly on medium low heat until consistency resembles gravy. This should take between 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter/vanilla. Pour over biscuits and indulge!

Verdict:  Interesting.🤔 I can check it off my bucket list but probably won’t eat it with biscuits again in the near future. However, the mixture can be repurposed as a fruit dip. Chocolate and strawberries anyone?🙋‍♀️🍫🍓

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Mood Ring Kitchen

I’m a self teaching home cook and aspiring foodie entrepreneur. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to prepare flavorful food such as snacks, desserts and everything in between. Cooking is a way for me to challenge myself and satisfy curiosities about different ingredients.

The hope is to produce something thoughtful, memorable or every once in a while maybe even wonderful. I enjoy following my “gut” and exploring new recipes that can be comforting, exciting and nourishing. Above all else, I enjoy exploring the emotions surrounding food and writing about those experiences. 😝👩‍🍳👩‍💻

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