Ultimate Guide to Southern Food

Southern Food Facts

Whether you fancy Southern food, soul food or both, be prepared for a hearty meal that will no­t only tantalize your taste buds but also is a testament to a region's rich and diverse cultural history. While you're dining, why not ponder the following interesting facts about Southern food:

  • Sweet tea is a long-time staple of the South. It is made with black tea and is always served cold. Sugar is added while the tea is still hot, creating a sugar syrup that is diffused throughout the tea.
  • Redeye gravy is made with pan drippings (usually from frying country ham) and leftover coffee.
  • "Barbeque" varies across the South. It can consist of pulled pork shoulder (typical of the Carolinas) or ribs, either pork or beef. Texans might favor a mesquite-smoked brisket. Sauces are also influenced by location. In North Carolina, vinegar is a key sauce ingredient. In South Carolina, expect a mustard-based sauce [source: Hanson].
  • Southern fried chicken breast typically has more than 400 calories in one 5.6-ounce piece. Twenty-seven percent of those calories come from fat [source: Diet Facts].
  • Black-eyed peas are small beige beans that have a round black "eye" at the pea's inner curve. These can be bought fresh or dried.
  • Peanuts, which are legumes, are grown from Virginia to Texas. Half the annual crop is used to make peanut butter [source; Hanson].
  • Key lime pie dates back to the mid-1800s, when sweetened condensed milk was introduced. Milk was not readily available in the Florida Keys, but sweetened condensed milk could be combined with key limes to make a delicious pie.
  • Pot likker is the liquid from cooked greens. This was drunk or made into a type of gravy.
  • Bourbon is the key alcoholic ingredient in mint julep. It was created by a Kentucky Baptist minister [source: Hanson].

To learn more about a variety of food-related topics, visit the links on the following page.


Related Links


  • Brant, Kelly. "Southern Comfort." (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • Buy Southern. "Food Facts." (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • CBS News. "Down Home, Southern Dishes, On a Budget." August 23, 2008. (Accessed 01/23/2009)
  • Chowhound. "Soul Food Versus Southern Food." (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • Ciampa, Linda. "A Taste of Savannah." CNN. July 15, 1996. (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • Diet Facts. "Nutrition Facts. Chicken Breast, Southern Fried." (Accessed 01/23/09)
  • Ewey-Johnson, Melissa. "The New Soul Food." Real Health Magazine. Winter 2004. (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • Hanson, Carl. "Cuisine of the American South." (Accessed 12/23/09)
  • Latshaw, Beth. "Gather' Round the Table: Race, Region, Identity and Food Preference in the American South." University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Sociology. Presented 8/11/2006, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • Moskin, Julia. "A Southern-Fried Picnic, to Go." The New York Times. May 21, 2003. (Accessed 1/23/09)
  • San Jose State University. "Soul Food and African Food." Course Reader, Chapter 20. (Accessed 1/23/09)