Peregrinations: Southern fudz

Needless to say, I ate well on my recent trip to Georgia and South Carolina.  I’ll put up two posts on the comestibles, with the first covering down-home Southern cooking and the second the fancier food I had in Charleston.

Met at the airport at Atlanta, I was immediately taken to the Barbecue Kitchen of College Park, where I had the BBQ plate. What you see here is pulled pork (pulled in shreds off the cooked pig) with the requisite three sides (“meat and three” as it’s called everywhere): creamed corn, collard greens (my favorite), and squash casserole. One of the glories of Southern cooking is the variety of vegetables: one often has a choice of a dozen or more.  You of course get to choose your sides, and in this restaurant you can have free refills of veg. Sweet iced tea (also refilled ad lib) is on the side, along with a basket of biscuits, cornbread, and jalapeño cornbread muffins (click to enlarge):

BBQ Kiychen

Boiled peanuts are also a staple in the Deep South: they’re usually sold, hot and freshly boiled, on the roadside, and are raw peanuts that have been boiled for hours in water and other spices. I love them, for they taste not like nuts but like the legumes they are. But I’ve never seen them in cans, as they were proffered on the counter of the Barbecue Kitchen. I didn’t buy any, for I was waiting for the real thing:

Boiled peanuts 1

Right before my talk in Augusta the next day, we ate at a restaurant called Due South in Peachtree City, outside Atlanta. It’s an upscale Southern place, and it was hard to choose between ribs and the shrimp-and-grits. I opted for the ribs, knowing I could get shrimp and grits in South Carolina.

Ribs before (with fries and hot-pepper coleslaw):

Ribs

Ribs after:

Ribs after

Another Southern specialty: fried chicken and waffles with peach compote and blackberry syrup.  Although the dish sounds unappetizing to the uninitiated, it’s quite good, for the syrup and compote add a delightful frisson of sweetness to the chicken:

Chicken and waffles

The day after the talk I was taken to Warm Springs Georgia, home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “southern White House” for an outing.  More on that site later, but one of the objects was also to eat at The Bulloch House Restaurant, a famous eating place in the area situated in an old southern home. It’s known for its southern-food buffet. Many buffets are dire, but this one was constantly replenished with freshly-cooked home-style food, most delectably the famous fried chicken and country ham.

The venue:

Bulloch

The menu: the list of dishes greets you as you enter (click to enlarge):

Menu

The buffet: fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, roast beef and gravy, real mashed potatoes, greens, butter beans, country ham, and so on (this is only half of it).

Bulloch tray

The largesse: my plate (the first one).  There’s fried chicken, candied sweet potatoes, collard greens, chicken and dumplings, a corn muffin, fried green tomatoes, fried applies, creamed corn and, of course, sweet iced tea (the table wine of the South, VERY sweet). Further helpings of fried chicken followed.  Note: I never said this food was healthy, and I don’t eat this way all the time, so food fascists please refrain from criticism!

Bulloch plate

And weren’t we lucky to find a boiled peanut stand just a block from the restaurant? One of my hosts in Atlanta, Denise, is in attendance:

Stand

The product, boiled overnight:

Peanuts

The drive from Atlanta to Augusta passed another famous place: Connie’s Country Kitchen, formerly known as Mamie’s Biscuits, in Conyers, Georgia.  There, for only about $1.50, you can obtain the apotheosis of country snacks (and a great breakfast treat): the ham biscuit. It’s a homemade biscuit enfolding a salty and chewy slice of cured country ham.  The softness and sweetness of the biscuit are a perfect foil for the resilient chaw of the ham:

Ham biscuit

A last BBQ meal before my talk in Augusta, this time at Mot’s Barbecue.  Chopped pork BBQ, “hash” (a meaty sauce) over rice, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese (the latter is considered a “vegetable” throughout the south), and sweet tea.  The “bread” (a toasted hamburger bun) was unforunate. One needs cornbread or, preferably biscuits as a breadstuff here. Nevertheless, this was just the ticket before tackling religion! (The sugar in that sweet tea gives me the requisite energy.)

Mot's

That ends the BBQ; I had some in South Carolina as well but didn’t photograph it. I did, however, have more upscale Southern food, and more on that tomorrow.

55 Comments

  1. coozoe
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    What an appetite! Salud!

  2. Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    That is definitely some good food. However, your okra looks more like collard greens (or maybe kale) in the first picture.

    Chicken and waffles my my absolute favorite. I recommend putting some hot sauce on it. I know it sounds strange but it works. It adds another dimension to the sweetness of the peach syrup.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I noticed and corrected that before I even read your comment. Sadly, I didn’t have any okra this trip (I like it battered and fried).

  3. Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    One thing that’s surprisingly (to me) rare here in Louisiana is sweet tea. It’s almost as bad as when I was living in California. I still have to go home to Alabama to get real sweet tea. So sad.

    • Diego
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Would you say the Mississippi is the natural western boundary for sweet tea? That seems to be the approximate border in my experience.

      Of course folks in Louisiana and East Texas at least know what you’re talking about even if they aren’t likely to have it.

  4. Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I sent this post upstairs to my husband’s office and got a single word reply: ‘WANT!’

  5. Hempenstein
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks for mentioning Country Ham, which means the kind that are sold in cloth sacks – Smithfield et al. This was not the kind of ham my mother made in suburban northern VA, but my (honorary) Uncle Rutherford always raved about it. Once we all went off to a church picnic (fundraising event; this is 50+ yrs ago) in the mountains of western Maryland. A white church under the trees on a pleasant summer afternoon with a long table of food with ladies serving it up. (If such places still have such events, they’re probably a counter-atheism force.) Anyway, UR comes to the lady carving the ham and exclaims, “Oh boy, is that country ham?” To which she replied, “I don’t rightly reckon they grow them in the city, mister.”

    • JBlilie
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Reminds me of a friend’s experience in France, where they asked for a baguette by requesting the “French bread.” To which the baker replied, “but madame, eet ees all French bread!”

      • Hempenstein
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Tangentially related, I’ve wondered what they call Canada Thistle in Canada.

  6. JBlilie
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I have a friend from Texas and she always gets pickled okra. Absolutely heavenly! (Can I say that here? :) )

    Oh, man, are you making me hungry! Collard greens, done right, oh man!

    No pecan pie?!?!? Or did I just miss it …?

  7. Pete Moulton
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Something I don’t get here: Jerry, you go to all these cool places, where the hosts ply you with mass quantities of wonderful food. How is it that you don’t weigh 900 lbs?

    • Sunny
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Apparently, reading Sophisticated Theology is good for weight loss.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Big brains burns BTUs.

    • Vaal
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      As Jerry says, he doesn’t eat like that every day.

      I gorge on such food when I travel too, but
      since I eat in a more sane fashion most of the time I’m not overweight either.

      It’s all about balance…

      Vaal

    • Gayle
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      I don’t understand this either. It must be a man thing because when I eat like that, even just for one or two days before going back to normal eating, I gain at least a kg and that kg will stay on me thereafter. It took me two weeks in Feb of restricting calories to 1000 per day just to lose the 1kg I put on from Christmas day and the two days afterwards!

  8. Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Finger-licking, rib-sticking GOOD!

    Oh boy, do I ever miss okra.

  9. Kevin
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Nothing in the world is more disgusting than boiled peanuts.

    Slimy little balls of slimy balls.

    Yuck.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Oh, there’s plenty of things slimier and ballsier than boiled peanuts — trust me. I used to work in an STD (VD) clinic. I’d go into detail, but we’re all fantasizing about dinner at the moment…

    • Diego
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I have yet to find anyone who did not have a strong opinion about boiled peanuts. Folk seem to either love them or hate them (I’m in the “love ‘em” camp myself). They really are one of the most partisan foodstuffs.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      I live in Texas but I’ve never tried them. I’m guessing I’ll love them, but I’ll just have to see. :)

  10. Brian
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “the dish sounds unappetizing to the uninitiated”

    I have to respectfully disagree.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      I had never had Chicken & Waffles until I moved to LA (Roscoes.) I believe my first response was “that sounds AWESOME!!!”

  11. Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I have to learn to avoid your website in that during the “90 minutes until the next meal” period….my stomach is growling!

  12. TJR
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    This post made me finally get round to looking up what “biscuit” means in US English,
    as the one in the photo just looks like an ordinary bread roll.

    So, its sort of a cross between a bread roll and a scone. Is that about right?

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      pretty much that exactly. think scone with only butter in it.

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        …and no tea. (except iced tea).

        …and no lumberjacks.

    • Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      In some parts of the US South (e.g. Kentucky and Virginia), there is a variation known as “beaten biscuits”. They are also served with slices of country ham. They are more like hard tack or a thick cracker. They are rather dry and hard with no leavening agent added. I’m not particularly a fan – they seem like eating chalk.

  13. Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    oh ham biscuits! Divine!

  14. Dominic
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I am curious – the sort of bread you seem to get served when you do food posts, often looks (looks – not is) to be standard white bread with refined flour. In the South I see we have cornbread offered.
    Q: I suppose cornbread substitutes corn for wheat flour?
    Q: Do people serve/offer varieties of brown bread with unrefined flour?
    Q: If you go into an ordinary US bakers shop I guess you get a wide choice of bread types? Or is that extrapolating to a continent what will be wildy different from Maine to California?

    • jesse
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Regarding corn bread, most recipes I have run across use only part corn meal flour and part wheat (refined, white) flour. My fave recipe uses 50:50.
      Corn bread is delicious with butter and honey.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      My recollection is that in the US there was a period where Wonder bread (a brand made from super refined wheat that was perfectly tasteless and remained soft enough nearly indefinitely to compress to 1/10 its original volume merely by looking at it), and more or less identical breads by other brands, were the most popular breads. When I was growing up most kids didn’t know there was any other kind of bread. I didn’t until I moved to Germany.

      But, in the past decade or so that has really turned around. Now you can go to your typical supermarket and they will have reasonably good quality breads of all sorts fresh baked.

      RE cornbread, yes, ground corn (corn meal) is substituted for wheat flour. But usually not completely. Most recipes include some wheat flour. Corn bread is best cooked in a cast iron skillet, preferably with a bit of bacon grease in the skillet before the batter is poured in. Jalapenos and cheese are good additives too. Or corn bread with jalapeno jelly (yum!).

    • jesse
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I’ll add something else I have heard about regional differences in breads in the U.S. vs. Europe (France at least)… in the U.S. we are down to one or two varieties of wheat grown and processed into flour, as opposed to different (and more) varieties of wheat used for bread flour in Europe… I heard this on the radio program, from an author of an in-depth bread book.
      A friend in Chicago who took a French cooking class was told by the French baker/instructor that when he came to the U.S. he had to re-formulate his French bread and pastry recipes because the white flour available to him in the U.S. acted totally different from the flour in France.
      / Viva big agri-business! /end sarcasm

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Making cornbread is not simply a matter of substituting cornmeal for wheat flour. It’s really a whole different concept, leavened with soda rather than yeast, and often incorporating eggs, buttermilk, etc. You don’t knead cornmeal batter, which is more like cake batter than like bread dough.

      (Of course “cake” means something different in the US as well.)

      • Dominic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Thanks Jesse, Darelle & Gregory. Once again WEIT readers illuminate my world!

        • Dominic
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          oops – Darrelle!

  15. Vaal
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Stupendous!

    OMG I love Southern Food. We poor Canadians only get it when we visit the US south. I take the family to the southern US about once a year and I come back CRAVING the food and bemoaning our lack of options here.
    Oh man, those ribs, the biscuits, their way with veggies even.

    Fortunately I’ve found one place where I live that does truly great, authentic tasting southern cookin’. It’s my savior.
    They even do the best fried chicken and waffles I’ve ever tasted.

    So, Jerry, is it now well known from your web site that you are a foodie? I’m getting the sense that your hosts start thinking “Ok, where are we going to take Jerry for great eats?” once they know you are coming.

    (We should all have it so good. I’m looking forward to the next food posts).

    Vaal

    • Jolo
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I was going to ask where you were from, Vaal is one of my favourite names, I use it in MMOGS and way back in the 80′s playing AD&D (nerd alert!)

      • vall
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        I use Vall because Vaal is always taken. It was you all along then?

    • Vaal
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I always wanted to use Vaal (for obvious Trek/atheist ironic reasons) but it’s usually taken. I nabbed it here though.
      Sorry :-)

      Vaal

  16. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Note: I never said this food was healthy, and I don’t eat this way all the time, so food fascists please refrain from criticism!

    No criticism, but a question: what do you eat when you’re at home, and how come you never show us pictures of that?

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Wheetabix, remember? :P

      (Thanks for the great photos and posts, Dr. C. Food heaven!)

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps there are no pics because he doesn’t need to eat at home. He seems to travel pretty frequently. All that BBQ would hold me over for a while.

  17. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    WEIT: Why Eating Is Transcendent

    (Terrific, Tops, Tremendous, etc.)

  18. Ron Schoenberg
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    My wife has fresh boiled peanuts sent to us every once in a while by her family in South Carolina. I think they’re great. BTW, the pronunciation is “bald” peanuts. Great with a glass of beer, which is pronounced “bare”.

  19. marycanada FCD
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Food looks and sounds awesome

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      That suggests a cookbook title: The Awesome Sounds of Southern Cooking.

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of a Victor Borge routine in which he’d talk a bit about a piece of piano music, and as he sat down to play it say “let’s see what it sounds like.” Then with a quizzical look “…or maybe listen to what it looks like.”

  20. Cremnomaniac
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Besides excellent food it seems that the south offers some of the finest dining tureens available. In the second-to-last image the vendor is scooping the boiled peanuts into what appears to be the exact same bowl that I use to feed il mio gatto.

    You eat well, and in style.

  21. Diego
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Now I’m hungry! I do love piling a mess of vegetables on my plate. My winter garden hasn’t been super productive this year but I am looking forward to harvesting my greens soon.

  22. Marella
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Looks awesome. Would it be unreasonable to cross the Pacific just for southern food?

  23. madscientist
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    I miss steamed/boiled peanuts – just can’t get fresh peanuts where I’m at.

    Mmm… all that food just looks so good.

  24. jiten
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    After every food post I want exactly what Jerry had! Badly. If he ever comes to the East End and has pie and mash (that’s eel pie) then that’ll be one thing I never want!

  25. Hempenstein
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    And since you mentioned Cornbread and Carolina: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcn7-W57x1M

  26. nedclark
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    This post ran perilously close to food-porn…

    …and I heartily agree that chicken & waffles are a match made in gustatory paradise (prefer the buckwheat waffles)- haven’t found a purveyor offering peach syrup yet…


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