If you attend a family reunion in the South, you’re sure to find any one of these 10 southern treats.
Southern family reunions are some of the best gatherings around. They’re usually loud and proud with horseshoes happening somewhere in close proximity to the house. Sweet tea comes in barrels, and cheap beer is plentiful.
You’ll be guaranteed to meet a family member you never knew existed. If you’ve been to one, then there is a chance one of these foods have been piled onto your plate. If not, you’re in for a treat.
10. Fried green tomatoes
These medallions of fried goodness are only the beginning of a southern family reunion. They’re ‘washed’ in buttermilk then coated with cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs or a combination of those. Now they’re ready to be shallow fried in a pan of bacon fat. Add some pimento cheese or warm bacon dressing to it–Mmmmmm. And the party is just starting.
There is always that one family member who brings the coleslaw. That same family member usually leaves with most of it still remaining in their Tupperware container. In another two days, it ends up in the trash. Yet, like clockwork, it still proudly shows up to those reunions.
8. BBQ something-or-other
Whether it be barbecued chicken or pork, there is never a shortage of smokey flavor at a southern family reunion. Family members usually bring it over in crock pots or foil troughs. If they’re anything like my family, they leave some behind at the house for themselves. Rolls are usually found somewhere near the barbecue’s placement on the table.
Sugar is, next to butter or lard, a stable ingredient in southern cooking. Dessert is usually eaten between servings and then as a snack a little later in the afternoon. Because, you know, another meal is too much. The sweets table at a southern family reunion usually includes apple pie, pecan pie, banana bread, Kroger cookies and a cobbler of some sort.
6. Hush puppies
These fried, golden cornmeal balls are usually paired with catfish. A caky and rich texture on the inside with a crispy outside is the holy grail of these snacks. They usually show up to the southern family reunion in the hundreds. Unlike coleslaw, there are never any left over.
If you haven’t yet noticed, cornmeal is the go-to in southern food. Northern states have varieties of cornbread but, they’re nowhere near as delicious of famous as the stuff in the south. If it wasn’t made in a seasoned, cast-iron skillet, then it isn’t real cornbread. Crumble it into a glass of buttermilk and eat it with a spoon if you’re real country.
4. Green beans in Salt Pork
My grandparents would bring green beans cooked with salt pork to our family reunions in Kentucky by the gallons. I knew how much it was because I helped my grandpa break and string the beans from his garden. My grandma then would drop a Cumberland Gap Ham into the boiling water to season it while we were working. One would think that I’d be less than excited to eat them since my fingers were tied in knots but, I’d eat more than my fair share.
3. Fried okra
Another fried food. More cornmeal. Less nutrition but…delicious. Okra is found in a few southern dishes like gumbo. But, it does its best impression of itself when it is deep fried with a cornmeal coating. It isn’t unusual to see family members with an Appalachian Mountain sized helping of it on their plate.
2. Biscuits and gravy
There is nothing healthy about biscuits and gravy. But, everything about the combination is too delicious to matter. The gravy is made from pan-fried pork sausage fat with butter and cream added. Biscuits are flower, butter, cream, buttermilk and sugar – quite the combo. At family reunions, the gravy is in a crock pot on low and the biscuits are right next to it. No one passes this portion of the table up. No one.
1. Fried chicken
I mean, we all knew this was coming. Fried chicken is a staple and no southern family reunion is complete without it. Although every culture has raised chickens and proceeded to fry them, the south is where everyone’s mind goes when they hear about it. Southern fried chicken owes its popularity to the slaves. Chickens were economical to slave-owners because those enslaved raised the chickens next to their quarters. Thus, providing meat and eggs for them at little cost to the slave-owner.