This article is brought to you by Travel South, USA. However, all opinions are genuinely held by the Yahoo Lifestyle Editorial Team.
There’s nothing better than trying local food when you’re travelling (don’t we all miss it?), and the Southern states certainly aren’t lacking in their culinary – and sometimes unusual - delights. From shrimp and grits to fried green tomatoes, here’s a mouth-watering tour of some of the South’s best-loved food.
Kentucky Hot Browns
For the ultimate comfort food, look no further than Kentucky Hot Browns. An open turkey sandwich, with bacon and a Mornay sauce made from pecorino romano cheese and cream on top, these delicious concoctions were originally made at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926. Try one and you’ll be hard pushed to find a better late-night supper. You can sample them across Kentucky, but it’s hard to beat them from their birthplace at the luxury Brown Hotel.
If it’s barbecue you’re after, the South has it in spades. North Carolina is known for its vinegar barbecue sauce – a sour, spicy sauce with a base of vinegar, that’s put on smoked or grilled pork. The Eastern style sauce has a vinegar and pepper base and is used over the whole pig, while Lexington or Western style adds ketchup and other spices for seasoning just the pork shoulder. Don’t miss some of the best in the region at Lexington Barbecue.
If you’re eating barbecue in Alabama, expect white sauce on your chicken. Made with horseradish, apple cider vinegar, mustard, black and cayenne pepper, this mayonnaise-type sauce is notorious at Saw’s BBQ in Homewood.
In Missouri, the Kansas City Rub is a must-try on pork ribs. Made from peppercorns, brown sugar, paprika, garlic and mustard seeds, most steak or ribs in the state will have this on them.
Memphis is known as the pork barbecue mecca, and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great places to try ribs here, rubbed in the famous mix of chilli, Cajun spices and paprika. Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous has been open since 1948 –down a tiny alley in a basement, it’s one of the best places in town, and is still run by the same family who opened it over 60 years ago.
If you have a sweet tooth, Georgia is your state. Georgia has grown peaches for over 500 years, and today produces over 40 different varieties, including the famous Elberta peach. Peach cobbler has become a state favourite. Expect peaches underneath a warm cinnamon and nutmeg biscuit topping – often with a dollop of cream or ice-cream on top.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Synonymous with the South, and originating from Alabama, fried green tomatoes are slices of unripe tomatoes – so they haven’t turned red yet - dipped in egg, flour and cornmeal and fried in a hot pan. Head to Juliette to eat them at the famous Whistle Stop Café.
Shrimp and Grits
Head to South Carolina for the state delicacy, Shrimp and Grits. Wild sweet shrimp, caught off the South Carolina coast, ladled over creamy, buttered grits – a smooth, solid food made from boiled cornmeal. Look out for their boiled peanuts too; boiled in salty water, buy them raw with their shells on from roadside stalls. Pinch off the shells and eat. Delicious.
If you like it hot, you need to try Mississippi Delta Tamales. Ground beef wrapped in a corn husk, served in a spicy juice, they’re little packets of rocket fuel. Eat as many as you can at the Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville, the self-proclaimed Hot Tamale capital of the world, on 15-17 October, or head to the unassuming Perry’s Original Sho-Nuff Hot Tamales. for some of the best in town.
Pepperoni rolls and ramps
The pepperoni roll is exactly what it says on the tin; pepperoni is baked in to a yeasty white bread. First made by an Italian baker in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1927 for coal miners who needed a filling, easy to transport meal, it’s now a state-wide favourite. Try the original recipe at Fairmont’s Country Club Bakery. West Virginia is also known for its ramps; wild leeks that taste like a garlicky green onion. At the Ramps and Rail Festival in Elkins hosted every April you can try ramp burgers or a hybrid of the two West Virginian favourites - ramperoni rolls.