Cuisine of the Deep South

The “Deep South” in this article is defined by the states of: Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Florida is not included because of the different nature of the cuisine there. The Carolina’s aren’t included because of the influence from the Atlantic Ocean. Then there is Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma that yes, are southern, but have a different influence on their cuisine all together.

Sweet Tea, Crawfish, Deep Pit BBQ, Grits, Catfish and Southern Fried Chicken…just some of the most popular dishes to emerge from this region of the United States. A few things that most people don’t realize are from this region include: Barq’s Rootbeer (from Biloxi, Mississippi), Coca-Cola (from Atlanta, Georgia), Hushpuppies (from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi) and Bananas Foster (originally served at a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana).

The food in this region in the United States is heavily influenced from Africa, France, Spanish, Caribbean and English. These influences have led to several sub-regional cuisines such as Tidewater, Creole and Low Country. These sub-regional cuisines define very specific areas within the region and have derived from specific influences. Creole, for example, is directly influenced by French, Spanish and West African cuisines and will be found in the southern half of Louisiana.

The influence of the Deep South on the American culinary scene can be felt coast to coast. The tradition of boiling corn on the cob for example is directly from a method of cooking picked up by the first settlers from the Choctaw tribe of Native Americans living in this region at the time. Fried Chicken is one of the region’s best known exports that can be found in every corner of the country. Another truly original cuisine from this region is “Soul Food”, first given that name in the mid-1960’s. This style of cooking developed out of the home kitchens in rural Alabama and Mississippi and spread across the country as people from those areas moved north and west. Some of the most popular menu items that have origins in these kitchens are: fried catfish, pork ribs, sweet potatoes, okra, grits and hushpuppies.

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