The South may be known for their barbecue, but we are more than just hush puppies and pulled pork. We’re the people that offer guests a drink as soon as they walk in the door and greet our new neighbors with a pie or casserole in hand because it’s just good manners.
As a Southern girl currently living in NYC, I never realized just how different our food cultures were. I knew food differed drastically when you crossed the Mississippi, but I had no idea what I was getting into when I crossed the Mason-Dixon line. That’s why I put together a list of the 15 food realities anyone who has lived in the South will understand.
1. Coke is our holy water
Asking “Is Pepsi okay?” is pretty much the most disrespectful thing you could ever say to a Southerner. We grow up drinking this nectar of the gods, and the only time we drink something different is if we are having sweet tea. Pepsi is not okay, it never will be.
2. Sunday school meant off-brand cookies
Because the South makes up the bible belt, there is a good chance if you grew up South of the Mason Dixon, then you attended Sunday school at least once. You would think that if Jesus could turn water into wine, he could turn Hydrox into Oreos, but no. These off-brand cookies still haunt my dreams, but at least they were tastier than the chalky wafers we ate during communion.
3. A second helping isn’t a suggestion, it’s required
Whether your family was having a holiday get-together, or you were just visiting your grandmother for Sunday supper, there was an unspoken rule that you got up for seconds. Even if you were stuffed after your first helping of green bean casserole, if you didn’t fix yourself a second plate, it was practically insulting the cook. You don’t want to insult Grammy, do you? Didn’t think so.
4. Food Lion > Whole Foods
Why on Earth would you go to Whole Foods when you can get all your groceries for half the price at your local Food Lion? Sure, they may not have a coffee bar or gluten-free cheese puffs, but they have buy one get one free Doritos and that’s what really matters.
5. Syrup on grits is a sin
I don’t know who told Northerners that putting syrup on grits is a thing because it most certainly is not. Grits should be buttery, salty, and if you want to get fancy with it, topped with tasso ham, shrimp or fish. Like the great Outkast said, “And if you like fish and grits and all that pimp shit, then everybody let me hear you say O-Yea-yer.”
6. You only crave Chick-fil-A on Sundays
Chick-fil-A is great any day of the week, however, life has a cruel sense of humor and craving Chick-fil-A on Sunday, the only day it’s closed, is a common occurrence. It’s not our fault waffle fries sound amazing when you wake up hungover.
7. Getting drunken Waffle House is a right of passage
There have been many times when greasy hash browns and black coffee at 3 am have saved my drunken butt, but there is something special about your first intoxicated expedition to WaHo. For some, it may come in high school, but for most, it comes when you head off to college and stumble into the Waffle House on your campus. Don’t worry, Waffle House doesn’t judge.
8. You have to stop for boiled peanuts on any roadtrip
Now, this is a tradition I don’t quite understand, but boiled peanuts are like Southern crack. This warm salty concoction is an acquired taste, but if you drive all the way to Myrtle Beach without stopping for boiled peanuts, then did you even take a vacation?
9. Your tea automatically comes sweetened
Asking for sweet tea up North then being given a glass of unsweetened tea accompanied with Splenda packets is honestly degrading. Thankfully in the South, the tea is automatically sweet, and if you’re lucky enough to get crushed ice with your tea, you might as well be in heaven.
10. Everything tastes better fried
Be it fried chicken, fried bologna, or even fried Oreos – if we can find a way to fry it, we will. Fried butter may seem excessive, but don’t knock it till you try it. Besides, calories pretty much don’t exist down South.
11. You’ve killed your own food at least once
I’ll be the first to admit I can’t handle the thought of killing a deer, but I have gone fishing a time or two. Hunting and fishing are just a part of Southern culture, and moral issues aside, there is something satisfying about eating something you’ve killed yourself.
12. Chicken and dumplings can cure every cold
I’m sure every Southerner will claim they have the best recipe, but regardless of what you put into your chicken and dumplings, these babies have saved lives. Nothing can cure a cold faster than eating a warm bowl of chicken and dumplings and watching The Andy Griffith Show.
13. We’ll put anything on a stick
No seriously, we will literally put anything on a stick, but can you blame us? Mostly seen at county fairs, putting food on sticks allows you to hold your food in one hand and an ice cold Coke in the other.
14. Tailgating is an art form
In Georgia, we learn two holy trinities. The first being the father, the son, and the holy ghost. The second being barbecue, beer, and bulldawgs. No matter what SEC school you cheer for, tailgating is an essential Saturday afternoon experience.
15. You carried hot sauce in your bag before Beyoncé sang about it
Hot sauce is an essential part of a Southerner’s diet. You can put it on your eggs, grits, and even chicken and waffles. If the restaurant you’re dining at doesn’t carry your hot sauce of choice — shout out to the Tabasco lovers — it’s important to keep your hot sauce in your bag, just in case.