Southern Comfort

IF YOU’RE A LOVER OF FOOD AND OF EXPLORATION, then it’s likely you already know the joys of discovering (and rediscovering) different signature dishes whenever you’re on the road, finding adventure in different corners of the country. The best regional cuisine usually has deep roots, but also features branches that showcase great diversity, reflecting one grandmother’s secret ingredients or another’s family preparation traditions. Influences are both cultural and environmental, often shaped by regionally available crops or fish, game and livestock, as well as by ancestral cooking methods that may have originated in faraway lands.

Like most areas of the U.S., the American South is an amalgamation of peoples whose ancestors came from many different parts of the world—some more than 400 years ago and others within the last century. Exploring Southern food culture is a fascinating—and flavorful—review of the history, creativity and resilience of the people who have called this part of our nation “home.”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll look mainly at the Southeastern states, especially Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and, edging a bit west, Louisiana. School Nutrition could publish separate deep dives into the cuisines and cultures of each of these states, celebrating their rich individuality, but for this overview, we’ll have to settle for a more abbreviated scope and some consequential generalities...

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