There's barbecue; whether you favor pork, beef, or whatever four-footed creature your grill will accept. Whether you prefer the Memphis dry rub, the Taxas sauces, or the Carolina mustard-based sauces, it's hard to miss. [But not with those mayonnaise-based sauces that some people use; did a fine pig die for that?
There's banana pudding, a favorite with barbecue joints. There's red beans and rice. Or jambalaya. And fried chicken. Frankly, Popeye's kicks KFC's and Church's pasty hineys on that, in my opinion.
But the true Southern food has to be grits!
Yes! Whether you use white grits, or yellow girls, use Quick Grits -- not that Instant crap! Making grits is a zen activity. And, while you're at it, make a serious-sided serving. It's so easy, even a Yankee can do it.
Here's what do:
Put 1/4 cup of grits in 8 oz. of water.
Microwave it on high for four minutes.
It's come out agreeably runny.
Salt and butter to taste. If you want to be a hero, try it with a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. You can do it gourmet: add a little cheese.Or do it, Charleston-style: use milk instead of water. My point is this: grits is not a mere side dish; it's the big part of a meal.
While purists say it's a breakfast food, I say breakfast can be served any time of day. When you have a good thing going, play it! A big bowl of grits and biscuits will do body and soul nicely. Or croissants and honey. With those, I'm one happy man.
Having sung the praises of grits, I will indulge now in a little iconoclasm: Sweet tea is overrated and bogus as a Southern tradition. Don't get me wrong; I like tea; and even add a bag or two if I'm in the mood. But the cloying sweetness found in sweet teas served in restaurants is too much!
Here's a Grits Map from CNN. If you live above that dark line above Kentucky, you will be hard-pressed to fine it offered in restaurants. Likewise, bring your own in Miami or NYC.