The Best Food The South Has to Offer

According to the Census Bureau, the South consists of Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Delaware...really? Anyway, the food is one of the greatest things about living in the south. For one, you don't leave hungry, two, a lot of the food experiences are communal or family and friends oriented, and it is comfort food through and through.

1. Crawfish Boil (can include crabs/shrimp/other seafood)

Whether outside or inside, the set-up is the same. Tables are spread far and wide with newspaper/black garbage bags (which will help with the clean up later), large 10 gallon sized trashcans, silver collection bowls, or literal holes drilled into the table help collect the cracked shells. Add to that, pounds and pounds of an endless buffet of heavily seasoned crawfish (and other seafood) still in the shell, potatoes, sausage, and corn with a side of beer.

This experience is not for dainty delicate ones; no knife and fork here. It's for people who get in there elbows deep snapping and cracking the mud bugs, sucking out the heads, living for the tail meat, drilling through their corn (ignoring the potatoes---everyone knows they fill you up too fast), and only taking a break every once in a pound or two, to take a sip of beer or enjoy a slice of sausage. Think about this experience like being a worker bee in a beehive. When you stop moving, you get trampled over and left behind. If you think you're going to go to a crawfish boil and eat "leisurely" you're going to be going home hungry because it is an intense all hands on deck and on the seafood situation where time waits for no man. You eat what you can crack, and if you can't crack fast enough, well, you aren't going to be eating very much.

2. Fish Fry

Not to be confused with a crawfish boil, a fish fry is what the name suggests. A bunch of fried fish, made that much better if fresh caught after a long morning out on the water which most of the South is close to. Staples include catfish, shrimp, and oysters alongside fries, hush puppies, cole slaw, beans and white bread (do NOT serve wheat under any circumstance). If you're smart, you'll stand as close to the fryer as possible so when the fish is fresh out the grease, it's straight onto your plate and into your mouth!

There is an art to who can fry the fish as well. You don't want anyone on the fryer who doesn't know the difference between hard fried and soft. Hard fried will leave the meat tough to where you have to gnaw on it a bit. Soft fry is very delicate, like the meat is just a few hairs past the raw point, but that makes the meat tender and easy to enjoy. In the South if you are a hard fryer, everyone knows it, and you'll be on the sidelines next fry if you can't handle the responsibility.

3. BBQ

There is no Southern BBQ where some kind of verbal fight doesn't break out, especially if there are Southerners from different states in attendance. No matter what state you are from, you will swear your BBQ is the best and you will argue this point until you are red in the face if challenged. Ribs, sausage, chicken, brisket, burnt ends, yaassss! This is a no George Foreman grills allowed situation. Let's be real, anyone can throw some meat on the grill and get a result, but if you want the legendary stuff, if you aren't going to an old fat black man or an old fat white man, or his apprentices doing the grilling, you're in the wrong place. Not saying skinny people, or other races, or women can't do legendary BBQ, just saying, I bet they were trained by an old fat guy.

REAL BBQ takes hours and hours to make. It's not done in 2 hours. Grill masters are up before the crack of the crack of dawn stoking fires, and adding their secret set of seasonings to their meats if they weren't already seasoned the night before. It's an intense all day process where they are standing by the grill, make sure all the meat is done just right, and then hitting it with that special BBQ sauce they make themselves. Do not, I repeat, do not ask if you can taste the meat ahead of time, or if you can join in on the grilling process, or think you can just touch stuff like lifting a lid up to check and see. Stay away. Let that old fat guy and his buddies he has deputized to help with the grilling, do their thing.

4. The best pies, puddings, and cobblers in life

It is best you never inquire whether a Southern pie is low fat. You might get sets of narrowing eyes darted in your direction. No the Southern pie is where diabetes, high cholesterol, and Heaven collide. Made from anything from fresh fruit, to chocolate, to cream, to everything in between, some very Southern classics pies are Pecan, Mississippi Mud, Key Lime, Chess, Sweet Potato, Buttermilk, Coconut Creme, and Buttermilk. Add to that peach and black berry coblers and candy bar and banana puddings. Oh yeah.

The fillings for these beauties are generally the easy part, but it's all about getting the crust right. It shouldn't be too hard or too crumbly, or too pale or too dark. You need a nice flake, a nice brown color, and to make it not too thin or too thick to where it's not enough or overwhelms the filling. Most people in the South know a pie lady or have a favorite pie shop on tap should the need arise, or mom/grandma who's been making them since she was a toddler. Occasionally you'll get some young blood in the kitchen who wants to spice things up by changing around the recipes or adding extra ingredients, but don't make this your entry at this years Thanksgiving feast, or you will feel the wrath of all involved. They are classics for a reason, and the reason is the pies, puddings, and cobblers are perfect as is.

5. Soul Food/Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinners have been a sacred institution in the South since there was even a South to speak of. Sunday, right after church, someone, usually a grand mother or older aunt, or your mother spent all day in the kitchen preparing a feast almost akin in scope to what you might find at the Christmas dinner table. Fried chicken, cornbread, mashed potatoes, mac n' cheese, greens, corn, smothered pork chops, okra, meat loaf, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, roast, gravy, fresh rolls, you name it.

This was and is a weekly gathering of family on ones day of rest, meant to really and truly nourish your body and your soul. There is nothing like family, and there is nothing like experiencing a true Sunday Dinner or the soul food that comes along with it in the South.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Soul food is the bomb

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    • Thank you for MHO!

Most Helpful Girl

  • Chocolate meringue pie is the best and good ribs, fried okra

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    • Everything in that sentence is life.

Join the discussion

What Guys Said 14

  • @Goddess 87 I'm FROM LA you derp! The most two expensive restaurants in NO were about $80 per person, 7 courses. Did ya leave Bourbon street at all? "I ate at every front street tourist trap in town... food in this (entire) city is horrible!" There are no Michelin restaurants in NO. You're making shit up. Methinks you went to Copeland's with 10 of your friends and the bill came to $250 thus 'expensive restaurant' LOL! "Who cares what the brits eat?" You just called squirrel and quail road kill, when the crowned jewels of cookery in the western world have squirrel and quail on their menus. Methinks you're the one that needs to expand their horizons... live in 5 states, visit 10, two countries. Then your opinion might be valid on food and drink.

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  • Definitely some of the best seafood i've ever had around the world.

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  • You call yourself a southerner and you forget the grits? The staple of every meal?

    Good take though hah ^^ we sure do love our food don't we (I'm from the Midwest but half my family is from the south )

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    • I cook shrimp n' grits for other people in my family, but I don't eat them. I know, blasphemy, but I'm not a fan.

    • That's fair I suppose.

  • needs more gumbo and more after that,

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    • I learned to make gumbo after much trial and error. It is A LOT of work just doing the prep work because I don't use anything out of a can or box like stock, I make my own, and my own roux, and bake my own chicken, and then all the prep work for the holy trinity... I always say, if someone is making gumbo for you, it's a labor of love for sure!

    • Its hard but worth the effort

  • I am feeling a bit peckish and that didn't help - Looks delicious but maybe a bit heavy for me - I think it would have to be a now and again treat for me

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    • 100% you will get fat and die if you eat this way every single day of your life unless you're working out like an Olympian. Moderation is definitely key!

  • Can't lie, I've been craving crawfish! :-D

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  • Nailed it

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  • you forgot hush puppies

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    • They are literally pictured and mentioned in this take... scroll right back up :)

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    • well, i give up. i've never heard of hushpuppies specifically being with fish exclusively, and this is somoene whose family is from south va, went to school in nc and lives in texas

    • ... and circling back to square one: hush puppies... photo credit and a mention. Cool.

  • Thank you

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  • yummy

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  • The best pies are British meat pies like Chicken and Mushroom pie, Pepper Steak pie etc.

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  • These are all foods that could be eaten anywhere in the United States and taste the same.

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  • Nice! This made me so hungry.

    Just an FYI, BBQ is made in a "pit" not on a grill, and the people who make it are pit masters, not grill masters. There is BBQ and there is grilling. The former is done "low and slow" while the latter is relatively hot and fast. Everything else is spot on.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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  • All this food would explain why the death rates there are high.

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What Girls Said 12

  • New Orleans has the most bland, overpriced, disgusting food I've ever had. They serve road kill there literally. Like quail, squirrel etc. They also don't serve sweet tea like the rest of the south. I don't know what that awful tea was, but it was not sweet tea. I live in Tennessee and the food is fine. Our tea is the best. I think the food award would have to go to Mississippi. When people refer to the south people think south east. No one in the south considers Delaware or Maryland part of the south even though technically it might be. The food, people, and traditions are nothing alike. It's a pretty good indicator by food also. Those two do not sell sweet tea because it is a southern thing. If you go to all of those states you will quickly see Maryland and Delaware are far from being southern style states as far as food etc goes

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    • Well, you see my confusion as to why Delaware, and some say Maryland were included in that census as being southern... I've been to Maryland and it is NOT the South when you think about all the South represents especially food wise. As far as New Orleans... you have to be really careful with who/where you get your food from. If you're in the French Quarter, you're most often being served mediocre food at best. It's the equivalent to going to mass produced commercial restaurants for Mexican, Italian, or Chinese food and thinking you're getting the real deal. You HAVE TO go off that silly beaten path in the brochure and into someone's kitchen or at least someone who knows someone's kitchen for the good stuff. I have friends there and their food is what dreams are made out of. I'd have to say LA and FL are almost their own brands. FL of course does seafood, but food has more of a Latin influence there and LA, a French influence, then just deep southern old school food.

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    • If you want to eat road kill off the street that's your business. Who cares what the brits eat? That wasn't the question. In Morocco they sometimes eat the head of a goat, but I didn't eat that either while being there. New Orleans is the only place in the world I've paid $250 for a meal to be absolutely disgusted. As far as the "hick" you clearly haven't been to Louisiana or Tennessee. With the exception of New Orleans or Baton Rouge the entire state is as southern as you can get just like any of the other deep southern states. I would say even more so than Tennessee. Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, etc are far from hickish. But I guess those descriptions can easily come to mind with someone like yourself who hasn't actually been to all the states and is far from educated on the issue. I would say the most country state in the south would again by Mississippi and they also are known for their traditional southern style cooking.

    • @MyTakeOwner I agree. Someone cooking vs a restaurant probably makes a huge difference.

  • Banana pudding is too legit to quit.

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  • Being from Texas I grew up eating all of those things. The only thing missing was the gallons of sweet tea and real lemonade. My parents would have huge cookouts on the ranch and invite all the family and the ranch hands and their families and all the neighbors. There was always lots of food.

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  • love the way you wrote this
    everything looks so good!

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  • I am a Mississippi girl... you are right about this.

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  • Mm I can attest to all of this. people up north love the food in the south every once in a while and vice versa. I want some shrimp now lol

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  • Fried πŸ— mashed potatoes and mac and cheese!! Followed up with a big jug of Pepsi! Lol = LOVE!

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  • Yum! You're making me hungry

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  • Ooh yummm

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  • That looks really good.

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  • yummy

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  • number 4 I love pecan pie if you wanna sound more southern its pee can pie thats how my grandpa says it he's 67ish raised in TN

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    • Ugh... the South is not an Island, there's hundreds of accents and local sub languages. Where i'm from they (because I speak proper English) would call them PUH-cone. Texas south is NOTHING like Tennessee which is NOTHING like Alabama. South Florida is Puerto Rico for Christs sake.

    • @demonics I never said it was? its just a variation plus its more fun to say pee can don't be so cranky

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