Food Of The South: History of Cuisine Of The Southern United States

The cuisine of the Southern United States has a special place in each of our hearts. No matter which part of the country you’re from, you likely have one-or-two traditional Southern food items on your favorites list. Who can say no to all the juicy, fatty, buttery dishes from these parts?

But how come all these treats came from the same area? If you’re interested to know the answer, keep reading.

In this blog, we’ve explained the history of Southern cuisine. 

Southern American food presents a record of all the places, cultures, and people that played a part in the evolution of one part of our country. The origin story is hard to define, but it’s easy to recognize significant influences.

Love for the community and the mixture of multiple cultures is what defines the South. It’s no wonder the food of the South is what brings the people together.

If you wish to try Southern American food on our way, visit Root & Bone Miami.

Culture Collision Is What Created the Cuisine of the Southern United States

It’s fair to say that Southern American food was created in an explosive culture collision. At the beginning stages of our country’s development, different ingredients found their way to the South. The arrival of plants, animals, and spices defined Southern cuisine more than other areas’ food.

The influences mostly came from three cultures – European, West African, and Native American. Each had its characteristics that melted together to create traditional Southern food.

Through all the hoecakes and cornbread, Native American people introduced corn and its many variants to the rest of the planet. The makings of these staple dishes were passed down through generations all the way to the slaves in the fields. Another skill that the Native Americans passed down was the unique way of preserving meat. With this technique of salting meat, the skin of squirrels and rabbits was crisped, which allowed the meat to be stored for the future without spoiling. Specifically, salted meat cuts that weren’t meant to be eaten but to save vegetables for cold days. So because of meat, folks back then could enjoy pots and pots of greens.

However, due to a very fortunate accident, this preservation method was used to season the food and make it originally delicious.

Along with new methods of cooking, The slaves from West Africa introduced a new and intriguing plant to Southern cuisine – the okra. These foreigners in a new land kept using their unique ways of preparing food, including the famous stewing method. Then and there, the famous gumbo was born. Today, it’s one of the most well-known meals in the cuisine of the Southern United States.

In their homeland, West African people ate primarily vegetables, fish, and fowl. They also continued to favor less complicated combinations in the South of the USA. And nowadays, the influence is visible in some of the most popular traditional southern food meals. Carolina Low Country Boil and Georgian Shrimp and Grits are perfect examples of how simplicity can create delicious meals beloved by many.

The Europeans brought the first swine to the States and thus introduced pork to the people from America. It didn’t take much for pork to become very high in demand. Quickly, its popularity spread across the land.

At first, the rich tried to keep the swine raising for themselves, but the less fortunate found a way to get a hold of a few pigs of their own. Soon, pork meat was a part of the diet of all classes of people in the South.

Alternative Ways of Finding Food Were a Must

While other parts of America moved forward through industrialization, things weren’t looking as bright in the South. This part of the country was dependent on agriculture. Since the population was struggling, many folks were forced to look for alternative solutions for finding food.

Those who couldn’t afford food at the market turned to foraging as a solution. If your own crops failed, there weren’t many other options. And, if you manage to perfect this skill, you could keep your family fed throughout the year with just it.

Pig fern and poke sallet are greens wildly available in the southern parts of our country. Their harvesting became a tradition, but it didn’t come without a bit of danger. In fact, it’s necessary to cook the poison out to make the mentioned plants safe to eat.

Blackberries and wild strawberries are also available during specific periods. However, muscadine was the most dependable source of food for families dependent on foraging. In fact, it was more than food. Muscadine has an acceptable fermentation process, so folks from the South enjoyed its wine often, as well.

The food of the South has quite a relationship with the land, and berries and greens have stayed a large part of the cuisine. Even nowadays, we’ll see plenty of dishes feature these items alongside pork and other meats.

The Community Played an Important Role

The lifestyle of Southern people had to leave an imprint on the cuisine of this part of the world. Yes, the Spanish conquistadors probably brought barbecue to the states. However, the Southerners’ lifestyle formed the BBQ culture and made it into something it was never before.

Since hogs were quite pricy and butchers required multiple hands, no one man could do everything himself. Instead, raising the hogs together became a tradition. That way, people could share the work, as well as the meat. The community would gather for this type of event, and the Southern barbecue culture was born. 

Throughout the years, the seasonal events turned into more of a party and were there to solidify the relationships of family members and friends.

The most recognizable example of a meal turned into a party, or a gathering is modern brunch. Southerners turned brunch into more than that. It’s a way for good friends to create memories over tasty food. Though it likely came from Europe, it quickly became one of the staples of America and Hollywood

Traveling from Los Angeles found many people looking for a meal somewhere around Chicago. That’s where the beautiful Hollywood folk would enjoy a tasty meal served in a celebratory tone. Brunch was a favorite gathering of the ladies, where they would spend hours discussing social topics and church business. And, it was a perfect opportunity to go all out with the fancy. The gloves, dainty portions, and everything formal was the proper way to do this, and brunch is still a highly appreciated meal in the South.

Crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, and frilly cocktails are still expected to this day. Of course, you can’t forget the white linens and cool mimosas.

Visit Root & Bone

The food of the South is beloved by everyone, and we can understand why. It’s hard to resist the dishes that come from this part of the world. If you find yourself in Miami looking for a taste of the South, come to Root & Bone. We’ll serve you the tastiest dishes you can find in Florida.