cornbread

People ask me all the time what my blog is about. Well, I say, it’s about Southern food and stories and superstitions. I think.

But King Daddy asked me the other day if Middle Eastern food is the new Pacific Rim cuisine. Oh, King Daddy. Pacific Rim is so 1990s. But the larger question is, “What is Southern food in 2016?” It’s always been fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, greens, cornbread and other “poor people” food. So then why do I have fish sauce, Korean chili paste, sriracha, Ethiopian berbere spice and sumac in my pantry? There’s tahini and preserved lemons in my fridge.  These are not the traditional condiments of the Peoples of the South.

When we eat out, we can always go to a meat ‘n three for fried catfish and white beans. But we can also eat Kurdish meat bread, Vietnamese banh mi and Mexican chorizo tacos. What the hell is going on here in the land of Dixie?

Other people came. That’s what’s going on. If you will remember, the traditional cuisine of the South was made real because “other people came.” They did not come willingly and that is our regional and national shame. But they brought their foods with them – okra, black-eyed peas, sesame seeds, rice and peanuts among them. And “their” foods became “our” foods.

In the past few decades other people have come. The Vietnamese. The Mexicans. The Kurds. The Ethiopians. The Russians. The Chinese. The Koreans. And they brought “their” foods with them. And “their” foods have become “our” foods.

Let’s just talk about Nashville’s most iconic food – hot chicken. Who do we have to thank for that? Mexico and South America for bringing us chili peppers. And how about BBQ, which we Southerners have hung our hats on for generations. The Caribbean did it first.

So what is Southern food anymore? It is so not limited to grits, biscuits and sausage gravy.

But it did occur to me just now that no one else has laid claim to cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta. Maybe on purpose.


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