When I came to Georgia, I knew things would be a bit different from how they were in Massachusetts. I knew people down South eat grits for breakfast and like things a bit spicier than most of us Northerners, but I was shocked by just how different the food actually is.

As my roommate told me about her favorite meals, I was amazed at how many foods and food combinations I had never heard of or even imagined. Here are some of those.

Boiled Peanuts

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of zodia81 on flickr.com

These are a big thing down here in Georgia, and you can find people selling these all along the side of the highway and outside of gas stations. I originally thought they would just be a soggy version of regular peanuts, but they are surprisingly delicious— especially with Cajun seasoning.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of BillDenney on flickr.com

Down South, you can find anything fried, and these are a particular favorite.

Shrimp and Grits

Southern Foods

Photo by Samantha Yudin

Most northerners know grits are a big deal in the South, but I don’t think any of us would have thought to pair them with shrimp. Leave it to Louisiana to add seafood to what northerners think of as a breakfast dish. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans anytime soon, make sure to stop by Lüke to try this Southern classic.

Fried Okra

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of jypsygen on flickr.com

Up north, most of us have no idea what to do with a plant like okra, but Southerners have used their typical cooking genius to come up with a delicious solution: fry it. Everything tastes delicious fried, and okra is no exception.


Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of Ross Catrow on flickr.com

Contrary to what the name suggests, this drink does not contain any alcohol. Cheerwine is actually a popular cherry-flavored soft drink from North Carolina.

Chicken and Waffles

Southern Foods

Photo by Morgan Goldberg

When my Southern friends wake up with an appetite in the middle of the night, one of the first places they think to go is Waffle House, which serves chicken and waffles 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I love waffles, but I’m still trying to figure out how someone thought to pair them with chicken. Only in the South…

Moon Pies

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of marcosojeda on flickr.com

These are kind of like the whoopie pies I’m used to seeing up in Maine, only instead of two pieces of chocolate cake with creamy filling, these are two pieces of chocolate-covered graham cracker cookies with a thick layer of marshmallow filling in between.


Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of HumanitiesWritLarge on flickr.com

Usually made from the small intestines of pigs, these can be enjoyed as snacks or eaten as a side along with other traditional Southern foods. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the town of Salley, SC has an annual chitlin festival called the Chitlin Strut. Thousands of people attend each year.

Chicken and Dumplings

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of @sweetsbychan on Instagram

The Southern equivalent of wonton or matzo ball soup, this is something everyone should try while down South.

Pimento Cheese

Southern Foods

Photo by Kathy Dai

This is a staple in Southern cuisine that consists of grated cheese, mayonnaise, and pimento peppers. It is a delightful topping for crackers and burgers alike.

Hummingbird Cake

Southern Foods

Photo courtesy of ulteriorepicure on flickr.com

This delicious spice cake is made with pineapple, walnuts, and banana, and its silky smooth cream cheese frosting makes it a decadent addition to any Southern party or meal.