Southern Foods That Aren't Actually Southern
We're not normally ones to stir controversy, but did you know some of the South's most beloved dishes are not actually Southern? We definitely put our own Southern spin on these fan favorites, no matter their origin.
These are the top "Southern" dishes that aren't actually Southern.
In the late 1800s, farmers in upstate New York began manufacturing Neufchâtel cheese (which became cream cheese). Around the same time, canned pimento peppers became popular in the U.S. Both items were sold in grocery stores and eventually recipes combining the two, referred to as pimiento cheese spread began popping up all over the country. By 1910, grocery stores began selling a commercialized jarred version of pimiento cheese that gained widespread popularity, primarily in the South. Pimiento cheese is now known as the "pâté of the South" because we've claimed it as our own, despite its secret Northern roots.
Give our Pimiento Cheese Sausage Balls a try, and you'll find it hard to believe these flavors didn't originate down South.
The dressing versus stuffing debate is a highly debated topic; but first things first, is dressing actually Southern? Let's trace its origins. It begins with stuffing, which derives as far back as the Roman empire. It was first recorded in America in the 1800s as a recipe in the Boston area. As this dish spread across the country, Southerners adapted the Victorian verbiage of dressing, instead of stuffing, which is what we still call it today. The distinction between dressing and stuffing, besides the Mason Dixon-line, is that stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, usually using white bread, while dressing is made with cornbread and cooked outside of the turkey. Let's be real, how many of y'all are actually stuffing your turkeys? Although dressing might have technically derived from the North, the Southern version is different enough in name and preparation, so we're going to claim this one as our own too.
To make authentic Southern dressing, try our Classic Cornbread Dressing.
It's a buttery, rich, cakey loaf named after the pound of each ingredient it's made from: eggs, flour, sugar, and butter. Despite its Southern reputation, pound cake actually has New England roots. In 1796, in Hartford, Conn., Amelia Simmons published America's first known cookbook American Cookery. It included the recipe for pound cake. Although the inaugural version of this recipe has since been replicated, modified, and geographically personalized, historically speaking, pound cake is technically a Northern dish after all.
Make our Million Dollar Pound Cake for a perfected, Southern take on this classic dessert.
The origins of chow-chow, a pickled vegetable relish made of cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, and tomatoes, served as a side or condiment, remains open ended. Many historians believe chow-chow integrated into Southern cuisine when Acadian people migrated from Nova Scotia to Louisiana. The French word for cabbage is chou. Others believe Chinese rail workers introduced chow-chow into American cooking in the 1800s, with additional reports of British and Indian lineage. Today, chow-chow recipes have evolved, and vary depending on your geographic location. Although chow-chow has been in the South for a long time, we are going to chalk this one up to a global recipe but Southern staple.
One of our editors wrote a love letter to summer peas and chow-chow. Hear her out.
Sweet tea is actually a Northern recipe….We're kidding, of course. The only thing more Southern than sweet tea is Dolly Parton and maybe my grandma. We had to end the list strong, and rightfully claim sweet tea as a quintessentially Southern drink, and possibly the best beverage ever invented. No research needed.
If you can't get enough sweet tea, try our sweet tea recipe ideas and mix things up the next time you need a tall glass.
We admit, maybe Southerners didn't invent every great dish, but that doesn't mean we don't make the best version of it.