5 Southern Foods We Love & Their History
Many argue that Maryland isn’t southern. And while we do reside more midpoint up the Eastern shore of the United States, we are south of the Mason-Dixon line. And while we definitely have our own cuisine here (Old Bay is a food group), we are heavily influenced by southern foods.
So, it’s no surprise that as a Maryland BBQ restaurant, we have lots of southern dishes. The mere idea of pulled pork, baby back ribs, collard greens, coleslaw, and cornbread makes anyone’s mouth water. So, here are five of our favorite southern foods that we also just happen to have on our menu.
5 Favorite Southern Foods on Our Menu
1. Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is a popular barbecue dish in the United States that consists of slow-cooked pork that is shredded or “pulled” into small pieces. The origins of pulled pork can be traced back to the Southern United States, where pork has long been a staple food. Pigs were an essential source of meat in the South during the early colonial days; they were abundant and inexpensive.
During the 19th century, pulled pork was a popular dish among enslaved Africans. They would slow-cook the meat in pits dug into the ground. Simmering the meat over low heat for several hours made it tender and easy to shred. Pork was also easy to preserve by smoking or curing to make it last longer. Barbecued pulled pork was a big part of Southern cuisine long before the invention of modern barbecue grills!
Today, pulled pork is a popular dish that many people around the world enjoy. It is a delicious and flavorful way to enjoy pork and a favorite of many barbecue enthusiasts. Some like it on a bun with barbecue sauce or as a topping for nachos, tacos, or other dishes.
2. Baby Back Ribs
Ribs have been a popular food for thousands of years. Baby Back Ribs are a popular type of pork rib taken from the upper portion of the pig’s ribcage, specifically from the section where the ribs meet the spine. These ribs are smaller and more tender than other ribs.
Baby back ribs gained widespread popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s due to barbecue restaurant chains and barbecue competitions. The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which began in 1978, helped to popularize baby back ribs as a competition dish worldwide.
As barbecue became more popular in the US, different regions developed unique styles of preparing ribs. For example, in Memphis, Tennessee, ribs are typically served “dry” with a dry spice rub, while in Kansas City, Missouri, you get your ribs with a sweet, tomato-based sauced.
Today, baby back ribs remain popular worldwide, with many different variations and styles of preparation. Pork ribs are the most popular, but meat lovers enjoy beef, lamb, and venison ribs. They are a staple of backyard barbecues and outdoor events.
3. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable that is a staple of Southern cuisine in the United States. In ancient Greece and Rome, they ate Collard greens for their nutritional and medicinal properties.
In the US colonial era, the plant was brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans. As a result, Collard greens became a popular crop in the South because it was well-suited to the hot, humid climate and was easy to grow and harvest.
Some collard green recipes include cooking with pork, such as ham hocks or bacon, and seasoned with onions, garlic, and other spices. They were typically slow-cooked for several hours, which helped to bring out their natural sweetness and reduce their bitterness.
Today, collard greens remain popular in the South. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and included in healthy eating plans. They are eaten independently or used as a flavorful addition to soups, stews, and other dishes.
Coleslaw, also spelled cole slaw, is a salad made from shredded or finely chopped raw cabbage mixed with a dressing. And while a southern dish, the origins can be traced back to Ancient Rome! Back then, they used shredded cabbage salad was made using vinegar and oil.
The more modern version of coleslaw originated in the Netherlands in the 18th century. However, Coleslaw didn’t gain popularity in the US until the 19th century. It was a simple and inexpensive way to add some vegetables to the meal, and it helped to balance out the richness of the meat.
Over time, coleslaw evolved to include other ingredients such as carrots, onions, apples, and dressings such as a vinaigrette or sour cream. Today, coleslaw is a popular side dish worldwide, served with sandwiches, burgers, and other casual meals. It is a good source of fiber and other nutrients and can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
Since Maryland is known for its corn crop, it’s no surprise we are big cornbread fans. Cornbread is traditionally made from cornmeal, flour, eggs, milk, or buttermilk. The origins of cornbread can be traced back to the Native American cultures of the southeastern United States, where corn was a staple crop.
Native Americans used various cooking methods to prepare cornbread, including baking it on hot stones or in earthenware pots. In addition, they often added ingredients such as berries or nuts to the bread to add flavor. When European settlers arrived in the Americas, they adopted and adapted the Native American recipes for cornbread. Over time, different regions developed their own styles of cornbread, using different types of cornmeal and cooking methods.
In the South, cornbread became essential to the cuisine and culture. Many would serve it with meals as a side dish. Cornbread is a cheap and filling food made with limited resources. Today, cornbread remains a popular dish in the United States. Some recipes use additional ingredients such as cheese, bacon, or jalapenos to add flavor. It is often served with a variety of meals, from chili to fried chicken to barbecue.
Get Your Southern Food Favorites at Chad’s
As with any food in its history, it is usually rooted in a combination of cultures and influences. Some aren’t as well known as others. The Spanish and French also had a substantial impact on Southern cuisine. And just like those that have come before us, we use our own ways of preparing these Southern food favorites (like smoking meats!)
Take a look at our menu, and order takeout or stop in to dine with us. We are a small BBQ restaurant in Edgewater, Maryland. But don’t let our size fool you. Our customers come from all over to try our delicious take on BBQ and southern foods.