Neely-Dorsey: Celebrate Your Southern Food Heritage!

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Initiated by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, October 11 has been designated as Southern Food Heritage Day!

The day is set aside to celebrate the best that Southern food and beverages have to offer.

The South’s cuisine in the United States is located in the historical regional culinary form of states generally south of the Mason–Dixon line dividing Pennsylvania and Delaware from Maryland as well as along the Ohio River and extending west to southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

The most notable influences on Southern cuisine ar African, English, Scottish, Irish, German, French and Native American.

The food of the American South reflects a unique blend of cultures and culinary traditions. The Native Americans, Spanish, French and British all contributed to the development of Southern food as they brought recipes and dishes from their own cultures. Transplanted Africans brought to the South through slavery also brought things to Southern cuisine.

Many items such as squash, tomatoes, corn (and its derivatives, including grits), as well as the practice of deep pit barbecuing were inherited from the southeastern Native American tribes such as the Caddo, Choctaw, and Seminole.

Many foods associated with sugar, flour, milk, eggs (many kinds of baking or dairy products such as bread and cheeses) are more closely linked to Europe.

Black-eyed peas, okra, rice, eggplant, benne (sesame) seed, sorghum, and melons, as well as the spices, can be attributed to people of African origin.

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There are a few rough categories of Southern food. The so-called “Soul Food” is heavily influenced by African cooking traditions that tends to feature a lot of greens and vegetables, rice, and nuts such as peanuts. Okra and collard greens often crop up in Soul Food along with thick stews. Creole food has a French flair and is often found around New Orleans while Cajun cuisine reflects the culinary traditions of immigrants from the region of Canada known as Acadia.

Lowcountry cuisine features a lot of seafood and rice while the food of the Appalachians relies heavily on preserved meats and vegetables. Southern food tends to be heavy on the corn, thanks to the Native American influence, with dishes like grits, cornbread, and corn on the cob as popular dishes.

Nuts such as pecans and peanuts are also popular along with fruits like peaches and berries. Common vegetables in the South include peppers, peas, okra, carrots, and sweet potatoes, while pork, chicken, and seafood remain endearingly popular.

At Christmas, one will find baked ham and turkey, sweet potatoes, rice, corn or oyster dressing and ambrosia and pecan pies anywhere in the South.

I hope that we all will appreciate and celebrate our Southern Food Heritage EVERY day! I do it regularly in my poems!

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patricia dorsey

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems. Through her poems, the author hopes to protect, preserve and promote the rich cultural history and heritage of her state and region along with providing more positive images than all of the negative images usually portrayed. Patricia lives in Tupelo with her husband James, son Henry and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy. The author has been named a Goodwill Ambassador for the state by Governor Phil Bryant. Her slogan is “Always, Always Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi ” Her website is www.patricianeelydorsey.com and her email is magnoliagirl21@yahoo.com.

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