Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 5 Influences on Regional Cooking in the United States


2
Southern Food
Soul food can be found in homes throughout the Southeast.
Soul food can be found in homes throughout the Southeast.
©iStockphoto.com/otokimus

Sometimes referred to as soul food because of the great care that goes into making each dish, Southern food has been heavily influenced by the African slave trade that marks one of the dark periods of American history. The origin of the style of cooking lies in the fact that African slaves didn't have access to prime cuts of meat, quality ingredients or sometimes even working kitchens. This forced them to get creative by using alternative cuts of meat that were fattier or just plain undesirable to wealthy plantation owners. Intestines were cooked into chitlins, fat back and salt pork replaced lean bacon. Unwanted vegetables like okra and black-eyed peas were cooked alongside foods that were then known as weeds (cabbage and collard greens). The rich flavors and home-spun recipes of Southern soul food have been passed down through the years and are still enjoyed today in the Deep South.


More to Explore