Southern Cooking and its Importance to Southern Communities

barbecue

Classic North Carolina Barbecue courtesy of placesiveeaten.blogspot.com

If you have ever lived, or even been to the South, you now that its people take their cooking very seriously. They take a lot of pride in maintaining the traditions of the generations before them, and everyone believes that their way of making a dish is the best. Each region has their own style of ribs, pork, fried chicken, coleslaw, and many more.

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Map of styles of barbecue sauce used in the Carolinas photo courtesy of amazingribs.com

Over the years, Southern cooking has become a very important part of the South’s cultural identity. There are many variations of styles used all across the South, giving all of the different states and regions a sort of culinary identity. Food is some serious stuff down here. Having a plate of barbecue can tell you more about a place than a map. People take pride in their food, and many times their personalities come out of what they prepare, and how they prepare it.

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Crawfish Boil, native to Louisiana photo courtesy of tualatincrawfishfestival.com

Even groups like The Southern Food Alliance are trying to keep track of the different regions of the South’s specific culinary heritage. They are doing this through oral histories and records in an attempt to educate people about the power Southern cooking has on the people of the South. Specifically, their work “serve(s) as progressive and inclusive catalysts for the greater South.”[1] They create podcasts and put on events to further the public’s knowledge of southern food, as well as tell stories about its history and how it has been a unifying factor in the South. An example of their work is here:

Their work is less about promoting certain restaurants, but instead promoting Southern cooking as a whole. They are attempting to preserve the unique cultural techniques and flavors that makes Southern cooking so distinct.

While Southern the food is great, and has a lot of rich tradition behind it, Southern cooking means more to the community as a whole than anything else. Food has aided the progress Southern communities have made over the last century or so.

Cooking BBQ at a Tin Can Tourists Convention 1925

Early 1900s barbecue in the South photo courtesy of thebbqblitz.com

Food brings people together.

It doesn’t matter where you are from, or what your background is, everyone enjoys a good meal. Food has the ability to break down racial barriers, as well as social classes. People will stop for a moment and forget their prejudices just to enjoy a good meal. The theory in the South is that everyone has to eat, so you might as well have a good meal.

A typical Southern meal is essentially family style. There is food laid out on the table and everyone at the table helps themselves. Classic Southern entrees and sides are usually served in mass quantities. One thing you are guaranteed when eating a Southern meal is tons of delicious food and good conversation with the people you are eating with.

Ulmer Studios-Nashville Wedding Photographers www.ulmerstudios.com  www.ulmerstudiosblog.com

Family style gathering photo courtesy of www.ulmerstudios.com 

Throughout the last century, the South has been through a lot of civil unrest between African Americans and Whites. Segregation made it so African Americans couldn’t eat in a lot of the restaurants that Whites could, and if they could eat in the same restaurant, they most definitely could not eat in the same area. How are you supposed to get to know a person if you can’t sit down and eat a relaxing meal with them? Regardless of this segregation, the one thing African Americans and Whites had in common was that they both went home and cooked the same meals that had been passed down for generations.

The idea of members of the community coming together is what Southern cooking is all about. This sense of unity that occurs when a large group of people is thoroughly enjoying a meal is divine. It makes them forget their prejudices for a little while and they all essentially become one. This is why food is such an important aspect of the South’s cultural identity.

Food is so simple yet can do so much.

With the recent developments around the University of Missouri and bouts of racial inequality around the country, it almost feels that the South has started to regress. The South will always be plagued with its wrongdoings, but what’s done is done and the only thing that can heal the South is time.

While people are trying to “take sides” on the issue of inequality still existing in the South, it is only pushing members of the community further and further apart. While something absolutely needs to be changed, the ways in which they are going about it are unproductive. The only way to fix a community is to become one. We need to go back to our roots. When it comes down to it, we need to remember that we are all from the South. We are all just humans living in the same area, with similar cultural identities, and have all eaten the same food.

If the South did not have its food, who knows what its society would be like now?

 

[1] “About Us.” Southern Foodways Alliance N.p.n.d Web 12 Nov. 2015  

 

Mama Dips: A True Southern Culinary Experience

 

 

 

MAMA DIP’S

0017-mama-dips-kitchenOVERALL SCORE: 84/100

Category: Southern   Address: 408 W Rosemary St. Chapel Hill, NC 27516               Phone: (919) 942-5837   Website: mamadips.com

Mama Dip’s is a restaurant located in Chapel Hill, NC. It was founded in 1976, by Mildred Cotton Council, who is otherwise known as, Mama Dip. She learned to cook when she was a kid watching her family prepare her favorite meals. She got into the restaurant business by starting a little take out kitchen with her mother-in-law.[1] She would master her craft over the next decade or so, and would eventually open the restaurant that Chapel Hill natives know and love today, Mama Dip’s.

Mama Dip’s has a large variety of southern favorites like fried chicken, barbecue ribs, as well as chicken and dumplings. All of the entrees served have their own unique flavor that sets it apart from other restaurants serving Southern style home cooking. Mama Dip’s gives off a down home kind of atmosphere, with food that is both gourmet and reasonably priced. Mama Dip’s is a great place to go out for a family dinner that everyone will enjoy.

Over the years, Southern cooking has become such an important part of of the South’s cultural identity. There are many variations of styles used all across the South, giving all of the different states and regions a sort of culinary identity. People in the South take their cooking very seriously, and take a lot of pride in maintaining the traditions of the generations before them. While the food is great, and has a lot of rich tradition behind it, Southern cooking means more to the community as a whole than anything else. Food brings people together. No matter where you are from, or what your background is, everyone enjoys a good meal. Food has the ability to break down racial barriers, as well as social classes. Throughout the last century, with all of the civil unrest in the South, the one unifying factor between African Americans and Whites was that they both went home and cooked the same meals that had been passed down for generations. This sense of unity is what Southern cooking is all about, and why it is such an important aspect of the South’s cultural identity. Mama Dip’s exemplifies this exceptionally well by serving authentic food in an environment that is inclusive to the whole community.

Reviewer Score: 84/100                                                                                                       When first walking into the restaurant, you get the down home kind of feel. Everything is wooden, and you can see the freshly made pies in the display case. For an appetizer, my family and I ordered the sample platter. We really enjoyed the hushpuppies and fried zucchini, but the fried green tomatoes were by far the best.

http://www.roadfood.com/

Sample Platter courtesy of yelp.com

There were many options to choose from for our entree, so the four of us decided to order different things and try each others. We ended up getting the chicken and dumplings, the fried chicken, and the ribs. The fried chicken was very crispy and flavorful. The ribs were also excellent as the meat was very tender, and the house made sauce was delicious. The chicken and dumplings were also good but they weren’t very warm when they were served to us. Although this was up for by the sides we ordered. The fried okra was great, as well as the cole slaw.

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chicken and ribs courtesy of yelp.com

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Chicken and Dumplings courtesy of yelp.com

 

All around it was a very good meal that was not exorbitantly expensive. While the chicken and dumplings were a little cold, the meal was still excellent, and epitomized everything that you would expect in a Southern homestyle meal.

1.”Mama Dip’s History.” Mama Dips Mama Dips History Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.