A Guide to Southern USA Cuisine Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

A Guide to Southern USA Cuisine

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This is an introductory guide to southern cuisine in North America. First thing to note isn't about Mexican food - no tacos, no burritos, and a totally different kind of chilli. The dishes contained in this guide are purely a product of the USA.

A couple of pointers first, though:

  • Never ask what southern food is actually made of. You just might find out.

  • All southern food goes equally well with lemonade and iced tea...

  • Iced Tea has ice in it and this is occasionally an unpleasant surprise for Europeans. If you ask for tea, you may get hot tea, you may get iced tea - you've got to be specific. This is further complicated by the fact that hot tea is just called 'tea'. Americans don't drink a lot of tea, so they've never needed adjectives for it.

  • Country ham isn't just ham, in the same way Canadian bacon doesn't come in rashers. Country ham may start life with a curly tail, but after four months of salting and curing, it bears about as much resemblance to deli ham as to pork rinds. Good country ham is saltier and tougher than anything you've ever tasted in your entire life. If you look closely, you can see the crystals. Try boiling it.

  • 'Our biscuits are not your biscuits'. American biscuits, especially southern ones, are floury round loaves of bread the size of your fists. You put butter on or in them.

A General Guide to Southern Dishes

  • Cornbread is a bread made from corn. Goes well with butter.

  • Collard Greens are sort of an acquired taste. Along with corn and green beans, the only three vegetables eaten.

  • Fried Chicken is well known thanks to KFC1, you know what this is.

  • Chicken Fried Steak is exactly what it sounds like. A piece of steak or pork tenderloin battered with fried chicken batter. Tastes better than it sounds.

  • Pork Chop or Pork Tenderloin is the chop which has a bone and is slightly tougher than the tenderloin. Occasionally batter-dipped.

  • Grits is corn that has been ground to a rougher texture than sugar. When you purchase it you take it home and boil it as you do with rice until it soaks up the water, then you add whatever seasoning: often salt, cheese, bacon or butter, and possibly all at once.

  • Potato Mash is usually called hash browns or if done slightly differently it is called simply hash2.

  • Gravy comes in four different varieties: white, brown, redeye and chocolate. White gravy is mostly milk and flour, brown gravy goes with beef, and redeye gravy is made with ham juice, coffee and, if rumour is to be believed, pig's blood. The fourth kind, chocolate gravy, is like a thin chocolate sauce and is a firm favourite of children when served with biscuits. It is, indeed, made of chocolate.

  • Sausage is like English sausage, but spicier, and rounder, so that it fits between the two halves of a sliced biscuit.

  • And, the coupe de grace...

  • Chitterlings, or 'Chit'lin's makes suet pudding sound appealing. Known in England as black pudding, Chitterlings are the small intestines of a pig, flushed clean with water (or not, depending on taste), stuffed with spices, pig's fat, redeye gravy, and cornmeal. Deep fry, slice, deep fry, batter, chop, fry, dice, and fry again. If you didn't know what it was, you'd probably like it.

1Kentucky Fried Chicken, a chain of fast food stores selling bread-coated and deep fried food.2Potatoes with a ham like substance, which is fried in a skillet.

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