Southern Food


Cook That You May Conserve, Part 3

‘But what we really seek is a different kind of sustenance. We seek a cultural relic that points to an old style of “Southern-ness” that is quickly vanishing from modern American life. We seek crude essences of the frontier, unswerving backwoods mentalities, rural respect for tradition, insights into rural humor, and examples of the wild braggadocio that has created many…
James Rutledge Roesch
August 11, 2023

Cook That You May Conserve, Part 2

‘Barbeques were important not only because they were popular social gatherings—in fact, they were enormously popular—but also because with their accompanying dances, and games, and speeches, and storytelling, they also served to transmit traditional culture from one generation to the next; and of course they also played an important role in the democratisation of American politics.’ —Sean Busick, ‘Political Barbecues…
James Rutledge Roesch
August 4, 2023

Cook That You May Conserve, Part 1

‘Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes. Let’s keep it that way.’ —John Shelton Reed ‘I’ve lived in North Carolina for 60 years, but I love Texas barbecue—in Texas. I love Memphis barbecue in Memphis, Kansas City barbecue in Kansas City, and even…

Alabama Weekend

In the summer of 2009, I was hired by a studio out of Mobile, AL to play piano on a couple country albums for these two brothers, Micky and Dickie as I recall. Though the booking was originally only supposed to be for one day, it ended up taking three due to those fella’s odd dietary habits. Apparently they were…
Brandon Meeks
April 25, 2023

Mixing It Up

Allen Mendenhall interviews John Shelton Reed. AM:  John, I really appreciate this interview.  Your latest book is Mixing It Up: A South-Watcher’s Miscellany.  I noticed that you dedicated the book to Beverly Jarrett Mills.  She was helpful to me over recent years, and I wish I had known her much earlier and far longer. I sense that she and others, like…
Allen Mendenhall
May 11, 2020

Mass Barbecue is the Invasive Species of Our Culinary Times

This article originally appeared on www.TheAmericanConservative.com.  Copyright 2019 From the colonial era well into the 20th century, large public barbecues were an institution across the South, from the Chesapeake eventually to Texas. Although these occasions could be linked to campaigns or celebrations of one kind or another, they could also be just an excuse for people to get together, to…
John Shelton Reed
September 19, 2019

“White People” Food?

A July 2017 article from Buzzfeed.com, the hallmark of all popular wisdom of our time, was entitled, “15 Things You'll Understand If You've Ever Eaten At A White Friend's House.” In the article, a series of snarky memes and illustrative pictures were meant to communicate the idea that “white people” don’t know anything about “spicing up” their food. In other…
David Harris
December 7, 2017

Southern Culture: Food

Food is one of the more tangible and recognizable elements of Southern culture and one that is worth exploring. It serves as a bridge between the tables of the Old South and the New. It was once said that Virginians dined, Yankees just ate. This was due in large part to the old Cavalier practice of multi-course meals that could…
Brion McClanahan
December 13, 2016

Fall Planting

The fall vegetable garden is a delight in the Mid-South. The greens and reds are vivid. Fresh lettuce and beans will grace the table until the first heavy frosts; perhaps even beyond if we are fortunate and blessed. Spinaches, cabbages, broccoli, collards and radishes will yield through the Christmas season. Garlic, onions, and shallots will repose through the winter, then…
John Devanny
September 5, 2014

Porked Up Southern Culture

The Abbeville Institute is dedicated to promoting Southern culture, and doesn’t shed a single calorie denigrating others. Every article I’ve read in the Abbeville Institute blogs cheer and champion the many good things about Southern culture, and I dare anyone to find even so much as a syllable that expresses outrage at what others might be doing. Personally, I couldn’t…
Tom Daniel
August 27, 2014


This piece originally appeared in the May 30, 2014 edition of the The Bowling Green Daily News. When chef Josh Feathers was growing up in Tennessee, his grandmother always had a jar of sorghum syrup in the cupboard. But he never gave much thought to it, or its significance to Southern culture. That didn't happen until he'd grown up, moved…
Michele Kayal
June 5, 2014


Grits can simultaneously be both an item of pride and an item of derision. On the old TV show “Mel,” the cartoonish waitress Flo used to insult people by drawling out, “Kiss my grits.” In the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” Joe Pesci was able to break down the testimony of a faulty witness by challenging how fast “boiling water soaks…
Tom Daniel
April 24, 2014

An Ethnic Food Group?

In the mid-90’s, my wife and I lived and worked for several years in Ames, Iowa. No matter how much fun we still make of Midwesterners, we will always remember the Iowa State Fair as one of the great wonders of the modern world. Those people take their state fairs very, very seriously. For one thing, they sold beer right…
Tom Daniel
April 22, 2014

BBQ and the Hillbilly Homeboy

February 2014 saw the passing of Maurice Bessinger and Tim Wilson, two Southerners who represented different elements of Southern culture: barbeque and comedy respectively. No one cooks like Southerners. This dates to the colonial period. It used to be said that Southerners dined, Yankees just ate. David Hackett Fischer noted in his significant work Albion's Seed that colonial Virginians enjoyed…
Brion McClanahan
April 10, 2014