Food for the soul

If a trip to Paris is for feeding your shoe addiction, and a trip to India is for feeding your spiritual side...then a trip to the Deep South is for feeding your soul.

With its roots in the rural south, this hearty cuisine is all about comfort. Also known as "soul food", it's about basic, down-home cooking to put a smile on your face and a few extra kilos under your belt!

You'll soon learn that most savoury dishes are sweetened with sugar or honey. So forget the diet, and follow your nose to the smell of fried chicken, corn on the cob, okra, black-eyed peas, chitterlings (pig's tripe), catfish, crawfish, jambalay and gumbo soup along with plenty of barbecue.

Here's some hearty dishes that you can't go past:

The full southern breakfast
This is not one for the faint-hearted. If you're game, the full southern breakfast comes with eggs, grits (a traditional hot cereal of ground corn seasoned with butter and salt) and plenty of breakfast meats including bacon, ham or beef. There's also a side of biscuits and gravy, which might sound odd until you learn that an American biscuit is essentially a scone. Oh, and don't forget the juice and coffee to wash it all down with!

Fried chicken
This is the quintessential southern dish. There's as many recipes for fried chicken as there are southern cooks, with most being passed down through generations. While this dish isn’t exclusive to the South, it seems that southern cooks have a special knack for preparing this finger-lickin dish.

If you’ve only ever had fried chicken from a chain restaurant, then you haven't really tried southern fried chicken. If you really want to experience the flavour of the south, you owe it to yourself to visit a down-home country cooking style restaurant to enjoy a plate of proper fried chicken. 

Collard greens
Collard greens are a mainstay of soul food cooking. It's a variety of cabbage that doesn’t form a head or heart, but instead grows into a loose bundle of leaves at the top of a tough stalk.

Collard greens are often prepared with other green leaf vegetables such as kale and spinach and then stewed with a bit of bacon, ham or a ham hock, diced onions, vinegar, salt, and black, white, or crushed red pepper. Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year's Day to ensure wealth in the coming year, as the leaves resemble folding money.

Pecan pie
Legend has it that the French developed pecan pie after settling in Louisiana and introducing the pecan tree there. However, the sweetness of the Southern pecan pie will forever be linked to the introduction of Karo syrup in 1902. In the early 1930s, a wife of a Karo employee made a pecan pie with the sickenly-sweet corn syrup. It was so good the company started advertising it, and in many parts of the pecan-growing South, people still say they made a “Karo pie”. If it's made right, the Southern Pecan Pie will will only appeal to those with a serious sweet tooth.

The oyster hangover cure
After sampling the local bourbon, you might just be in need of this. The famous oyster hangover cure is basically a bloody Mary mixed with Tabasco sauce and egg. The theory is to have a bit of the snake that bit you as an immunity cure, and the tomato is rich in vitamins to soak up the excess of alcohol in your tummy.

So you see, they don't call it soul food for nothing!

Peregrine has just launched a range of trips in the USA and Canada, including the 12-day Deep South and Delta Blues. You can see the range of trips on offer and take the chance to explore this exciting part of the world. Request a FREE brochure to get more information. 

Have you ever tried hearty soul food? Tell us how good it tastes in the comments section below! Then head to twitter and Facebook to share stories and images with other Peregrine travellers.



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