Tomato growing in the south can be a tricky task for gardeners, but we get it done. Several varieties of hybrid and heirloom tomatoes manage to thrive in our heat and humidity, and we certainly make the most of every crop.
In southern kitchens, nothing is more iconic than the cast iron skillet. In fact, no other culinary artifact from the 20th century has enjoyed the same longevity, or popularity, as cast iron cookware. Unlike most treasured family heirlooms, the cast iron skillet never collects dust, instead, it serves as a working piece of history that connects southern cooks with their past. My grandmother collected cast iron pans for the sole purpose of passing down to her grandchildren—and she meant for them to be used.
Southern bread is an experience… the smell, the texture and the weight. In the south, the making of bread is a family affair, and most of us have fond memories of rolling out dough with our mothers and grandmothers. I used an amber floral drinking glass, 70’s style, to cut out rounds in the biscuit dough with my grandmother in her kitchen. Our biscuits were never pretty, but that was never the intention, our only concern was to make them delicious.
The Southern side dish is an important part of our culture. Often, our seasons are marked by the sides we choose to serve, for instance, you know it’s summer when potato salad takes the place of mashed potatoes, and it’s definitely fall when the corn pudding makes an appearance on your plate.
Every good Southern cook knows the basics of meal planning: meat, bread, and a side (or two or three). There are certain mainstays in the pantheon of Southern dishes—if you’re cooking Southern, you should know these. Dressed up, or scaled down, these Southern mains are down-home, traditional, and always satisfying.
Southern food is a living record of the people, places, and cultures that have contributed to the evolving landscape of our unique little corner of the world. Too complex and varied to ever achieve a conclusive origin story, the history of Southern food is best examined by considering its major influences—the integration of cultures, natural bounty, and love for the community.