Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Help Me Define the "South"


NYC Mike
 Share

Recommended Posts

OK, I did better on the advanced one. 97% Dixie. That's more like it.

Fascinating stuff, this. Back to the list of states, after considering it I think it's impossible to break it down by state lines. New Orleans has as much in common with Miami as Atlanta has with Dallas. There's no way to say, in the terms of food or culture, that any state, with the exception of the "Deep South" states that stand without controversy, is or is not "southern". Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee are without a doubt included. How far out you want to stretch those borders depends on what you are looking for. Southern accents span a lot of ground, but the culinary traditions and habits vary even within states.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I came up 100% Dixie. Is your grandfather General Lee?!

Sure did make my day.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For example, most southerners would not hesitate to tell you that they can tell the difference in a Southern Accent from state to state. I can detect a difference between my home state of Georgia (Southwest Georgia to be exact), Alabama, Gulf area Florida, Central and Southern Florida, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Lousiana, Texas, and Virginia stick out like a sore thumb to me. KIN-TUKKY is very idoisyncratic. Not just accents, but word usage as well.

This is so very true. I once worked for a guy who grew up an Army brat, ask him where he was from and he would tell you "from nowhere". He had an amazing talent of being able to pinpoint, almost to the county where someone was from based on their voice.

There's no way to say, in the terms of food or culture, that any state, with the exception of the "Deep South" states that stand without controversy, is or is not "southern". Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee are without a doubt included. How far out you want to stretch those borders depends on what you are looking for. Southern accents span a lot of ground, but the culinary traditions and habits vary even within states.

This is an interesting distinction that has come up a few times above. What qualifies the "Deep South" from "South"?

Andrea and I both agree that a tighter and smaller playground area would be good for us in order to really focus our exploration while attempting to learn what is and isn't "Authentic".

-mike

-Mike & Andrea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as "Deep South" I think you can concentrate on Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennesee. Remembering that south Louisiana, while part of the "Deep South" does not equal southern food. My guess is you are looking for BBQ, fried chicken, greens, and sweet potato pie instead of jambalaya. Although good examples of all of those dishes can be found in south Louisiana.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:raz:

As far as "Deep South" I think you can concentrate on Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennesee. Remembering that south Louisiana, while part of the "Deep South" does not equal southern food. My guess is you are looking for BBQ, fried chicken, greens, and sweet potato pie instead of jambalaya. Although good examples of all of those dishes can be found in south Louisiana.

At our uneducated first glance I think we are looking at BBQ, Soul Food (if that is correct terminology for Southern/chicken, greens, corn bread etc), Cajun, Creole and any other little surprises we can find along the way. All of the above being "Southern" in origin although very different from each other in most other respects.

Best example I can give of a little surprise is the Miss. Delta Tamale Trail. For us that association has always been with Mexican food but based on history it is also remarkably "Southern". Fun for us, I'm having tamales for dinner tonight!

-Mike & Andrea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I scored 43% Dixie - "barely Yankee". Sounds about right for someone from Maryland, just north of DC.

EXACTly the same--which surprised me. Thought I was set in my ways before moving to the midwest, etc. However, took the "Advanced" version and got 30%. Seems just about right.

* * *

The important thing to keep in mind is that categories are always artificial, imposed on the data that get listed under a rubric like "the South" due to recognized commonalities. The exceptions to rules or unique features of say, Louisiana's cuisine(s) are what makes the category interesting. They give you a feel for the different forces that shape the culture under scrutiny.

One factor not yet mentioned, I don't think, is the central importance of African-Americans. Most of you remember discussing this issue after reading Their food. (Relevant, too, is this more recent piece.) The Great Migration north disseminated a lot of Southern cooking. Does anyone talk about Diaspara Food in this context?

As for D.C. and its lack of really fine Southern fare, I imagine factors are complicated. However, the first time I moved here, there was ONE good rib place. Started by a former lawyer, I seem to recall. Bob's? Dave's? Some guy's name. But what do I know? Scored a 30% and fried a chicken black.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:raz:
As far as "Deep South" I think you can concentrate on Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennesee. Remembering that south Louisiana, while part of the "Deep South" does not equal southern food. My guess is you are looking for BBQ, fried chicken, greens, and sweet potato pie instead of jambalaya. Although good examples of all of those dishes can be found in south Louisiana.

At our uneducated first glance I think we are looking at BBQ, Soul Food (if that is correct terminology for Southern/chicken, greens, corn bread etc), Cajun, Creole and any other little surprises we can find along the way. All of the above being "Southern" in origin although very different from each other in most other respects.

Best example I can give of a little surprise is the Miss. Delta Tamale Trail. For us that association has always been with Mexican food but based on history it is also remarkably "Southern". Fun for us, I'm having tamales for dinner tonight!

Actually, the correct term for "Soul Food" in the south is just plain food, or "Home Cooking" if you want to differentiate it from grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. I would hesitate to leave out South Carolina personally, but I have had the advantage of eating a great deal of Home Cooking from that part of the country.

Some of those on this thread that have chimed up about the midwest or the heartland have surprised me a bit, but it makes sense when you look at the settlers, where they came from, and the natural resources they have to work with.

That all being said, it's all good, and fun to think about and explore.

:wub:

Anne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking of surprises along the way, if you have not had the opportunity yet NYCMike, you must try Yoder’s Deitsch Haus in Montezuma, Georgia. Not too far a drive from you.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g3512...ma_Georgia.html

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=1769

or better yet, The White House Farm Bed and Breakfast, then lunch at Yoder's

http://www.bbonline.com/ga/whitehouse/

Mom and I used to ride the road looking for antique and junk shops, and dropped in there regularly. Amazing place.

Anne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I scored a 69% Dixie and took the test just once.

Kentucky was also a "divided" state (commonwealth to be exact) since it fielded both a Union military unit and a Confederate military unit and the "irregulars" on both sides were very active, especially in the western half of the state (where I was born and raised). The infamous Quantrill was killed in Kentucky and the popular local opinion was "good riddance to bad rubbish"

whatever side they favored.

Interestingly, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky although Mr. Davis spent most of his political life representing the state of Mississippi and of course we know that Mr. Lincoln moved to Illinois and onward and upward from there.

Many of the settlers after the Revolutionary war were from North and South Carolina (my father's ancestors) and were given land grants in Kentucky for their service in the Revolutionary war.

Some lost their ancestral lands in the 1950s when The Land Between The Lakes was designated a national recreation area. A bitter pill and still deeply resented.

However the foods found in Kentucky where I grew up were similar to the foods just about everywhere in the south and also across the Ohio in southern Illinois, which in some ways was as "south" as could be, in attitude.

My family is scattered all over the south and we did a lot of visiting. The food in Birmingham or Charleston was as familiar to me as the food in Paducah or in Tallahassee.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took the advanced test and still came up 100% Dixie. I guess you can take the boy out of the deep south (Northwest Florida Panhandle also known as part of the Redneck Riveria, just try buying some cheap coastline now) but you can't take the southern out of the boy.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These folks might have some ideas about exactly what the South is:

Welcome to The Southern Food and Beverage Museum

We are a nonprofit organization based in New Orleans, dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the culture of food and drink in the South. Please explore our website and discover what we are and what we have to offer you.

Southern Food and Beverage Museum

P.S. Didn't take the Yankee/Southerner test 'cause I knew I'd cheat. As a matter of fact, I just changed the word "people" in my first sentence above to "folks" upon a second's hesitation. :rolleyes:

(When in Rome. . . )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a test if it will post & a simple question (if your a southerner you know the answer without google) What are grillades & what is it servered with? :cool:

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencer...dixie_quiz.html

& here's some tips for Yankees :laugh:

http://www.countryhumor.com/humor/tipsforyankees.htm

Interesting find, but... somethings amiss with that first one. :hmmm:

I mean, my God, I've never been north of Hot Springs. And I'm expanding that a little farther into the frozen north next week when I go to Nashville. I only scored a 58% southern rating. You certainly can't go by that thing.

Heck I got a 58% and I'm from VA with a maternal grand father from MN originally and a father from Detroit. I would definitely say that something is a bit off. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

100% Dixie!

Probably because my ancestors spent quite a bit of time around Spartanburg, SC. They then migrated down to Missouri, where my great grandfather homesteaded. When the Indian Territory in OK opened to homesteading, he moved his family there. That was about 1905.

Even though the Depression and WWII moved my grandparents and parents west, we still make biscuits and homemade sausage with milk gravy. At the end of the month I'm sending 3 pigs in for processing. I want all the fat and trim back so I can make my own sausage and will also make my own hams.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well NYCMike let's try this:

You know you are in the South when.....

you order tea in a restaurant and it comes sweet. If you want un-sweetened you must specify and you will probably get the wrong one poured in to your glass at least one time during dinner.

you automatically get grits w/ breakfast.

the waitress does not even lift an eye brow when you order "a mess o' greens" or "cat head biscuits", "pork brains", "chitlins"....

the best food is at funerals and every one knows it. Every home has a special plate or platter that gets used only at major holidays and at funerals.

on a drive through the country side you will see small white board or red brick churches w/ a cemetery either next door or directly across the street. Some where w/in a few yards of the church is a poured concrete table that is there for one purpose and that is "all day preachin' and dinner on the grounds". It might be used for other purposes but that is the reason it was put there.

no one at the local restaurant has a name b/c "sweetie", "hon" or "honey", "sUGAr", "baby", &c work quite well thank you.

there is a pecking order for Sunday lunch--Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists. That is not a ranking but the order they will arrive at the restaurant after church. The Presbyterians welcome the Baptists to the restaurant as they leave.

food is named after a person. "I hope to get some of Miss Edna's chocolate cake" or "Are these Miss Lois' chicken and dumplings?". Miss Edna and Miss Lois might have been gone for a dozen years but their receipts are still in the church cook book and people take a bite and identify the food by those names no matter who made it.

along the same lines we name food after famous people. There is a Jeff Davis pie and a Robert E. Lee cake. I have yet to find an Abraham Lincoln or "Useless" Grant any type of food and have never even looked for any thing named after Sherman (a very dear friend of mine who is a retired school teacher says she did not realize until she was in her teens that his full name was not "thatsumbitchSherman".)

there is a Waffle House at every interstate intersection...and some times two.

you walk in to a barbecue joint and order beef and half the staff comes out to stare at you and the rest are too busy laughing at the "ferner" to make it to the dining room.

you find tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, okra, and other fresh garden vegetables at your door at least once a week fr/ some time in mid-June until shortly before the first frost.

there is a boiled peanut stand along side most high ways

HDHD

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well NYCMike let's try this:

You know you are in the South when.....

you order tea in a restaurant and it comes sweet.  If you want un-sweetened you must specify and you will probably get the wrong one poured in to your glass at least one time during dinner.

you automatically get grits w/ breakfast.

the waitress does not even lift an eye brow when you order "a mess o' greens" or "cat head biscuits", "pork brains", "chitlins"....

the best food is at funerals and every one knows it.  Every home has a special plate or platter that gets used only at major holidays and at funerals. 

on a drive through the country side you will see small white board or red brick churches w/ a cemetery either next door or directly across the street.  Some where w/in a few yards of the church is a poured concrete table that is there for one purpose and that is "all day preachin' and dinner on the grounds".  It might be used for other purposes but that is the reason it was put there.

no one at the local restaurant has a name b/c "sweetie", "hon" or "honey", "sUGAr", "baby", &c work quite well thank you.

there is a pecking order for Sunday lunch--Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists.  That is not a ranking but the order they will arrive at the restaurant after church.  The Presbyterians welcome the Baptists to the restaurant as they leave.

food is named after a person.  "I hope to get some of Miss Edna's chocolate cake" or "Are these Miss Lois' chicken and dumplings?".  Miss Edna and Miss Lois might have been gone for a dozen years but their receipts are still in the church cook book and people take a bite and identify the food by those names no matter who made it.

along the same lines we name food after famous people.  There is a Jeff Davis pie and a Robert E. Lee cake.  I have yet to find an Abraham Lincoln or "Useless" Grant any type of food and have never even looked for any thing named after Sherman (a very dear friend of mine who is a retired school teacher says she did not realize until she was in her teens that his full name was not "thatsumbitchSherman".)

there is a Waffle House at every interstate intersection...and some times two.

you walk in to a barbecue joint and order beef and half the staff comes out to stare at you and the rest are too busy laughing at the "ferner" to make it to the dining room.

you find tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, okra, and other fresh garden vegetables at your door at least once a week fr/ some time in mid-June until shortly before the first frost. 

there is a boiled peanut stand along side most high ways

HDHD

This sure does sound like the part of the South I grew up in.

For what it is worth, the James Beard house defines the South as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (yeah), Louisiana and Mississippi. They define the Southeast as Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. They define the Southwest to include Texas and Oklahoma. Missouri is in the Midwest. All those border states like Maryland and Virginia belong to the Mid-Atlantic.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dang, but I rolled double sevens on that there test, and a few of those Q's had me down cold for Texas and Houstonian--spooky! :blink:

. . . and not for nothing, but the folks at Beard didn't mention how Texas was nothing but a Southern exile for disgraced second sons and criminals--I wouldn't claim us, neither. Where did Yankees send their insane and embarrassing kin?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
Lan4dawg,

I am LMAO right now so hard.  We have already experienced sooooooo many of these things, great primer! :raz:  :biggrin:  :laugh:

-mike

As an unreconstructed Northerner (Chicago via Quebec) who's had a chance to spend some time in The South recently, I think this primer is all we need as a guide to this topic. Vernacular, Waffle Houses and weather make Southern Food Southern, much more than the actual food. Why?

Hang on to your flowery hats, you charmin' darlins' : My grandmother in Southwestern Ontario, cooked all those "Southern" specialties, including grits, though they were called cornmeal mush. She grew okra on the farm and catfish swam in the muddy depths of local streams. With the exception of some Creole and Cajun stuff and barbecue, Gammy's recipe file looks identical to any Miss Louella's.

Ham. Biscuits. Ambrosia. Chicken and Dumplings. Fried chicken. Coconut cream pie -- and cake. Mac and cheese. Chow chow. Cobblers, peach and otherwise. Pecan pie. Deviled eggs. Turnip and mustard greens, green beans in pot liqour. She had those shelves stacked with Southern writers invariably call "jewel like" preserves.

I thought this was Canadian farmhouse cooking -- and it was. It's farm cooking for huge stretches of North America. Establishing the geographical boundaries of the South is obviously up for debate, but I'm not going to dispute Southern Food Culture -- I've experienced many of the things on this humorous list myself.

I'm not arguing the culture or the weather, I'm actually (Heretic!) arguing the food. Most of the stuff eaten on a picnic table under a mossy oak is eaten on a picnic table under a maple tree.

(All Canadians sprinkle vinegar on their fries. McDonald's in the South don't have tiny plastic packs of white vinegar lying in the bins next to the packages of salt, pepper and ketchup.)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the long post, but to my mind this piece from the journal Southern Cultures answers your question. (Shameless plug: My wife Dale and I also have a long discussion of this business in our book 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South.)

WHERE IS THE SOUTH?

The South has been defined by a great many characteristics, but one of the most interesting definitions is where people believe that they are in the South. A related definition is where the residents consider themselves to be southerners, although this is obviously affected by the presence of non-southern migrants.

Until recently we did not have the data to answer the question of where either of those conditions is met. Since 1992, however, 14 twice-yearly Southern Focus Polls conducted by the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have asked respondents from the 11 former Confederate states, Kentucky, and Oklahoma "Just for the record, would you say that your community is in the South, or not?" Starting with the third of the series, the same question was asked of smaller samples of respondents from West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Missouri (all except Missouri included in the Bureau of the Census's "South"). Respondents from the 13 southern states were also asked "Do you consider yourself a Southerner, or not?," while starting with the second survey those from other states were asked "Do you consider yourself or anyone in your family a Southerner?," and if so, whether they considered themselves to be Southerners.

The numbers below are based on pooled data from these surveys, which now give us big enough samples from individual states not only to characterize each state as a whole but also to say, for example, where in Texas the South ends. (A project is now underway to do just that.)

It is clear from these data that if the point is to isolate southerners for study or to compare them to other Americans the definition of the South employed by the Southern Focus Poll (and, incidentally, by the Gallup Organization) makes sense, while the Bureau of the Census definiton does not. We already knew that, of course, but it's good to be able to document it.

--John Shelton Reed

Percent who say they are Southerners

(percentage base in parentheses)

Mississippi 90 (432)

Louisiana 89 (606)

Alabama 88 (716)

Tennessee 84 (838)

South Carolina 82 (553)

Arkansas 81 (399)

Georgia 81 (1017)

North Carolina 80 (1290)

Kentucky 68 (584)

Texas 68 (2053)

Virginia 60 (1012)

Oklahoma 53 (410)

Florida 51 (1791)

West Virginia 25 (84)

Maryland 19 (192)

Missouri 15 (197)

New Mexico 13 (68)

Delaware 12 (25)

D.C. 12 (16)

Utah 11 (70)

Indiana 10 (208)

Illinois 9 (362)

Ohio 8 (396)

Arizona 7 (117)

Michigan 6 (336)

All others less than 6 percent.

Percent who say their community is in the South

(percentage base in parentheses)

Alabama 98 (717)

South Carolina 98 (553)

Louisiana 97 (606)

Mississippi 97 (431)

Georgia 97 (1017)

Tennessee 97 (838)

North Carolina 93 (1292)

Arkansas 92 (400)

Florida 90 (1792)

Texas 84 (2050)

Virginia 82 (1014)

Kentucky 79 (582)

Oklahoma 69 (411)

West Virginia 45 (82)

Maryland 40 (173)

Missouri 23 (177)

Delaware 14 (21)

D.C. 7 (15)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the long post, but to my mind this piece from the journal Southern Cultures answers your question.  (Shameless plug:  My wife Dale and I also have a long discussion of this business in our book 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South.)

WHERE IS THE SOUTH?

The South has been defined by a great many characteristics, but one of the most interesting definitions is where people believe that they are in the South.  A related definition is where the residents consider themselves to be southerners, although this is obviously affected by the presence of non-southern migrants. 

Until recently we did not have the data to answer the question of where either of those conditions is met.  Since 1992, however, 14 twice-yearly Southern Focus Polls conducted by the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have asked respondents from the 11 former Confederate states, Kentucky, and Oklahoma "Just for the record, would you say that your community is in the South, or not?"  Starting with the third of the series, the same question was asked of smaller samples of respondents from West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Missouri (all except Missouri included in the Bureau of the Census's "South").  Respondents from the 13 southern states were also asked "Do you consider yourself a Southerner, or not?," while starting with the second survey those from other states were asked "Do you consider yourself or anyone in your family a Southerner?," and if so, whether they considered themselves to be Southerners.

The numbers below are based on pooled data from these surveys, which now give us big enough samples from individual states not only to characterize each state as a whole but also to say, for example, where in Texas the South ends.  (A project is now underway to do just that.) 

It is clear from these data that if the point is to isolate southerners for study or to compare them to other Americans the definition of the South employed by the Southern Focus Poll (and, incidentally, by the Gallup Organization) makes sense, while the Bureau of the Census definiton does not.  We already knew that, of course, but it's good to be able to document it.

      --John Shelton Reed

Percent who say they are Southerners

(percentage base in parentheses)

   

Mississippi  90  (432)

Louisiana        89  (606)

Alabama        88  (716)

Tennessee      84  (838)

South Carolina      82  (553)

Arkansas  81  (399)

Georgia  81 (1017)

North Carolina      80 (1290)

Kentucky  68  (584)

Texas    68 (2053)

Virginia    60 (1012)

Oklahoma        53  (410)

Florida      51 (1791)

West Virginia  25  (84)

Maryland  19  (192)

Missouri    15  (197)

New Mexico  13  (68)

Delaware    12  (25)

D.C.        12  (16)

Utah        11  (70)

Indiana      10  (208)

Illinois          9  (362)

Ohio        8  (396)

Arizona        7  (117)

Michigan      6  (336)

All others less than 6 percent.

Percent who say their community is in the South

(percentage base in parentheses)

Alabama  98  (717)

South Carolina        98  (553)

Louisiana    97  (606)

Mississippi    97  (431)

Georgia    97 (1017)

Tennessee  97  (838)

North Carolina  93 (1292)

Arkansas    92  (400)

Florida        90 (1792)

Texas      84 (2050)

Virginia      82 (1014)

Kentucky    79  (582)

Oklahoma  69  (411)

West Virginia    45  (82)

Maryland    40  (173)

Missouri      23  (177)

Delaware    14  (21)

D.C.          7  (15)

Thanks for the information. I find it interesting that in my home state of VA only 60% are Southern identified, but 82% think they live in the South. This parallels my own experience. I think I understand quite a bit about Southern culture although I am not Southern identified. This to me begs an anthropological question: does one have to be Southern in identity or Southern in experience to understand southern food at a cultural level?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...