Southern American Food

I have a copy of a Cook’s Illustrated magazine focused on food from states like Georgia and Alabama. This type of food is hard to find in Canada. While I’m sure you can get anything in a big city, I’m not sure how popular it is outside its namesake region. Yes, Nashville fried chicken with cayenne spicing, barbecue with fixings and pulled meat are fairly popular everywhere. But a lot of the dishes I didn’t know. How many of these dishes do you know?

  1. Carolina Chicken Bog
  2. Natchitoches Meat Pie
  3. Carne Guisada
  4. Jezebel Sauce
  5. Comeback Sauce
  6. Shrimp Perloo
  7. Kolaches
  8. Pimento Cheese
  9. Thoroughbred Pie
  10. Lane Cake
  11. Strawberry Sonker

Just seeing if most folks don’t know these, or just me.

Lane Cake is mentioned a few times in To Kill a Mockingbird. I used to have a recipe for it, but try here if you want to make it:

All of these are familiar, in fact I was just down in Texas for a funeral and bought a whole bag of kolaches. Definitely one of the things I miss from when I was regularly driving between Austin and Dallas & would always stop and buy some.

Pimento cheese is the only one of those I know off hand, though some do sound familiar.

I never even considered that people actually make it, though. I usually just see people buying pimento cheese spread. I assumed it was created by some multi-national product company, like Cheese Whiz.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think of carne guisada as “southern” - it’s Mexican/Central American in my book, a pretty standard burrito filling in southern CA, and here in the PNW I know a Salvadoran restaurant that makes a great version that’s served on top of extra-thick handmade corn tortillas.

I always thought I hated pimento cheese, because I was used to the nasty shit they sell in tubs. But then I had some from a schmancy southern restaurant, and it was a goddamned revelation.

Here’s how I make it for potlucks:

-Throw a bunch of sharp cheddar in a food processor, like 8 oz or so. Whirl it till it’s crumbled.
-Throw in 2 oz or so of cream cheese.
-Generously sprinkle in some delicious spices, like cumin and smoked paprika and cayenne and garlic.
-Add a ginormous spoonful of Duke’s mayo.
-Add a tiny jar of pimentos & mix just until they’re chunked through the spread. You want both the juices to color the spread, and little jewels of pimentos to be visible.

It’s delicious cold, but it’s even better warmed up as a dip for tortilla or pita chips, or spread on baguette rounds.

As for the others, I’ve had kolaches and heard of shrimp perloo, but none of the rest. Guess NC ain’t south enough.

I’ve heard of those three and eaten the first two, though the Pimento Cheese was a commercial product I didn’t associate with the South at all.

I grew up in south Georgia and I never heard of most of those dishes. Pimento cheese, yes, of course. I know of Natchitoches but not of their meat pie per se. Hmm, I may have heard of Shrimp Perloo, actually, that’s a stolen French word, I think originally pilou or something of that ilk… never eaten it though.

The only two of those I know are carne guisada, which as Smapti pointed out isn’t uniquely Southern, and kolaches, but they’re not uniquely Southern either, unless this means something different in the South from the Czech fruit pastry.

The others look interesting, and I’m going to be trying many of them out, I’m sure.

Ultimately Persian, I think

Jezebel sauce over a block of cream cheese
Thoroughbred pie and Lane cake

These were perennial favorites at many of my folks (s Floridians)holiday open houses. Yes they were lovers of all things bourbon/ spirits

Pimento cheese too, thought that was a penn Dutch thing

Not horse meat I assume.

I’ve heard of pimento cheese but that’s it.

Here in North Carolina (I’m a Yankee transplant, but here for 17 years now), pimiento cheese is extremely popular.

There is a large Eastern European community in the Houston area and they have made kolaches very popular (most donut shops carry them.) They can be sweet or savory (think large pigs in blankets, but with better quality sausage.)

I have heard of Comeback Sauce, but probably from a show on Food TV.

The others are unknown to me.

These are the only ones I’ve heard of:

  1. Comeback Sauce
  2. Kolaches
  3. Pimento Cheese

I grew up in Augusta, which loves to feed pimento cheese to golfers. I don’t care for it myself.

Comeback sauce because a guy named JB used to hawk it around my college town with his late-night hot dogs. I think he lives in Mississippi now.

Kolaches because I had an Eastern European exchange student, but I also know Texas has a huge Czech community so I’m guessing that’s where that comes from for the list.

A thing that is not on that list is dipped red link sausage biscuits, which you can get at a gas station near me. Pure heaven. That station seems from a different time and I’m always amazed it’s still around.

I’ve heard of all of them and make a lot of them myself.

Comeback Sauce has a million recipes, all similar. Ditto Jezebel Sauce. LHoD hit the key ingredient in pimento cheese - Duke’s mayo. Accept no substitute! Smapti dealt with the carne.

Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex dish, not from the Deep South. It’s quite popular here in south Texas. Kolaches are also popular, but I associate them more with bakeries run by descendants of German immigrants to central Texas rather than a Deep South food. They’re another of my favorites. Pimento cheese I’ve heard of, don’t like, and associate more with 50s suburban / working class white people than the Deep South. The others I’ve never heard of.

This, however, is new to me. I think of a kolache as something like a pig in a blanket. I’ve never heard of or seen one that has fruit in it, unless you count the jalapeños that are added to the spicy ones.

I’ve lived in Arkansas since the 4th grade.

Pimento Cheese is the only thing I recognize. I don’t like it.

I may have eaten some of the other items at church dinners without knowing the regional name.

A lot of people don’t realize how much poverty exists in the South. There were a lot of basic vegetables in our diet. Potatoes, Turnip Greens, field peas, squash, carrots, corn etc. Items easily grown in backyard gardens.

We ate a lot of eggs. Chicken was consumed because they didn’t require refrigerators. You grabbed one from the yard. I can remember helping my grandparents prep a chicken for cooking.

Beef was for special occasions. That was usually pot roasts because it’s a cheaper cut of meat.

That’s what I thought when I saw that description, too. But a little research seems to say that the sausage versions are a Texas creation.

I’ve heard of and had several items on the list. I love every version of Carne Guisada (even though, yeah, not technically a southern US dish).

Those are the only three I knew, as well.

I’ve made Chicken Bog several times using internet and / or youtube recipes. Good stuff, very basic home-style comfort food. Whole chicken boiled for a long time in a big pot, then soggy overcooked rice added in. Good way to feed people who are fussy about strongly flavored food or are having temporary digestive issues; kind of like congee with some meat.

Pimento cheese: I buy or make it every couple of months. Known to my southern transplant cousins as Carolina Caviar. I use internet recipes about half the time and otherwise buy the widely available brand Palmetto Cheese; it’s good.