Eating Down South

by Carly McGee

The United State of America is a melting pot of cultures. Diverse in religions, customs, and especially foods. One region of the U.S., with influences from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and South America; and a unique form of preparing food, is the "Deep South". The "Deep South" consists of the states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, and the Carolina's. Food across these Southern foods vary from 'soul food' to Cajun to Puerto Rican and more. One of the few foods brought over to the U.S. from Europe is stew. The majority of people living in the South when the U.S. was beginning to be founded were slave owners; because of this many of the foods were influenced be the African and Latin slaves.

I am from Mississippi with family spread all across the South. I have been raised on eating southern foods, most of which were brought over to the States from Africa, by the slaves and slave drivers. For instance, okra, grits, black eyed peas, and coffee all originated in Africa. Lima beans, commonly called 'butter beans' in the south, originated in the Andes Mountains and were brought to the States by Spanish explorers and then passed along to American traders, primarily in the South. The hot, humid climate in the South is perfect for growing all these crops which could not survive in any other parts of the U.S. The Cajun spice influences used most commonly in Louisiana to add intense flavor to such dishes as Red Beans and Rice or Jambalaya, were introduced in the States by the Acadian's, aka French Canadians, who came to the U.S. from Quebec, Canada. Although southern foods do not appear diverse, their origins span the globe.

Here is a list of some common southern dishes:
- Red Beans and Rice
- Green Bean Casserole (now a very common dish across the country)
- Egg Sausage Souffle*
- Chicken Rice and Almond Casserole**
- Fried Okra

Recipes:

- Egg Sausage Souffle*
Recipe compliments of my grandmother, Joanne Nimmons

Ingredients: 12 slices buttered bread (crust less), 10 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, 1 lb. cooked sausage (crumbled), 4 eggs, 3 cups milk, salt and pepper
Directions: Layer the bread, cheese and sausage in greased 2 qt. casserole dish ( 6 slices bread, half of sausage and cheese, and then repeat). Blend eggs, milk and a little salt and pepper and then pour over the layers. Cook uncovered at 325 degrees for one hour. Can freeze as is and then cook. Can be made as much as a week in advance.

- Chicken Rice and Almond Casserole**
Recipe compliments of Mrs. Calvin Shaw (family friend)

Cook till limp: 4 Tbs. oleo, 1 medium green pepper (chopped), 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery.
Add: 1 can crean of mushroom soup, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can chicken broth, 1 cup cooked rice (Jane uses 1 and half to 2 cups), 1 cup cooked chicken (Jane uses 1 and half to 2 cups), 1/4 cup slivered almonds.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour uncovered.
Note: if you add more chicken and rice you may want to add more broth.


I hope some of you try out these dishes and enjoy them. If you do and you want more then just ask! My email is carleymcgee@hotmail.com

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