Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015|10 p.m.
I spent the better part of 2014 taking a trip throughout the Southeast trying to find the very best food at the best family-owned mom-and-pop restaurants in the South. The end result was the production of my book “Southern Routes,” which was launched recently and– shameless plug alert– is offered now on Amazon.
“Southern Routes” isn’t really just a “best of” series of great and secret dishes gathered during my journey across the South, but rather a collection of stories. Stories about people who own restaurants that are culinary landmarks; people who commit their lives making fantastic food.
For some, the word “Southern” conjures small-minded stereotypes of an amusing sounding accent or that Southerners are uneducated hillbillies. Antiquated viewpoints and bigotry will certainly always exist. “Southern Routes” is about the rich and lively culture of the places and stories of individuals who are bring the Southern banner through food.
Eventually, Southern food has to do with history. It has to do with heritage. Modern Southern culinary can trace its roots back a couple hundred years to a time when subsistence agriculture was the norm. Many people were bad, and they grew what the ground would permit and what they had to survive.
This functional concept then changes and permutates over generations and becomes what we understand now as farm-to-table or a strong dependence on fresh and seasonal active ingredients that is embedded in Southern cuisine. What was as soon as functional ends up being cultural in time.
Proteins were pricey. If you had a cow, you ‘d likely have a milk cow that was used for milk and butter. When it came time to slaughter a pig, it was a public occasion. Individuals would collect as a neighborhood, generally on Sundays after church, and everybody would share in the bounty.
Modern refrigeration hadn’t been created, and an entire hog would be far too much food for one household. So, functionally, it made good sense to share with everyone; otherwise, most would go to waste. This becomes exactly what we understand now as a “ya’ll come” culture of signing up with for huge meals. It likewise was the birth of exactly what we know of as “whole hog” celebrations in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, and so on
. Due to the fact that the conservation of food was vital to day-to-day survival, treating meats prevailed throughout the South. The practical preservation of ham by curing it with salt, or later on sugar, develops nation ham and sugar-cured ham, 2 pillars of Southern food.
There’s an entire modern cottage industry in Kentucky based entirely on fantastic hams that you can order online and have actually shipped right to your door. Another significant method for treating meat? Smoking it. This practical practice would, obviously, be the groundwork for a genre that is interwoven into Southern cooking and culture: barbecue.
As for “huge nation” breakfasts? If you were going to be working 15 hours of daytime out on the farm, your body would require fuel through proteins and carbs to obtain you through the day. Now a huge breakfast on the weekend is the prelude to seeing football and a midday nap! What was once practical becomes cultural gradually.
All of that to state Southern food isn’t really appealing since of its historic heritage and heritage. That’s not something we think about when we cook or consume. Rather, it’s enticing since it tastes excellent. It’s comfort food. However exactly what is comfort food? I want to consider it as the crossway of taste and memory.
Comfort food, like Southern food, is rooted in history and heritage, the only distinction being home cooking is individual history and heritage. Biscuits are comfort food for me because I have actually treasured childhood memories of my grandma hand-making biscuits every Sunday. For you, it may be mashed potatoes or fried chicken.
Southern food can be a million active ingredients utilized in a million methods. It’s not all simply fried chicken and black-eyed peas. Southern chefs and cooks all interpret in a different way with a couple typical threads that tie it. Ultimately, Southern food is fresh components, terrific technique and, most notably, it’s the memories we make and the stories we share all while commemorating fantastic food.
In our contemporary society, consuming isn’t really almost making it through any longer. It also is about the experience. What was as soon as functional becomes cultural with time.
Ben Vaughn is a chef, author and TELEVISION character commonly referred to as a host for the Food Network. Ben’s most current book, “Southern Routes,” narrates his journey to discover the best-kept food secrets in the South from the Carolinas to Texas. “Southern Routes” is released by HarperCollins.
Ben lives in Tennessee and functions as CEO and culinary director for his restaurant group Fork Knife Spoon. Ben’s new brand of Southern Kitchen food trucks struck the streets in Las Vegas. Follow all the action from the mobile kitchen area @SoKitchenLV. @BenVaughn likewise is the host of “The Breakfast Program,” a TELEVISION series that premieres in the fall.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & & Famous” popularity has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has actually spent the previous 15 years offering readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/ Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Home entertainment + Luxury Elder Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/ VDLXEditorDon.