Every year, Southern Food Heritage Day is celebrated on October 11. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum celebrates the culturally rich and delicious food of the Southern States in America. The cuisine deserves to be recognized and celebrated officially because it is a testament to American history and legacy. Southern food also represents the essence of America — the coming together of a variety of people from all over the world, each bringing with themselves their own ingredients and recipes to create a unique cuisine. Iced tea, pickled shrimps, and fried chicken are some of the most loved Southern foods throughout history. Along with the cuisine, the day also celebrates the racial and ethnic diversity in America.
History of Southern Food Heritage Day
Southern Food Heritage Day celebrates the best that Southern food and beverages have to offer. The South’s cuisine in America can be found in the historical regional culinary form of states generally south of the Mason-Dixon line dividing Pennsylvania and Delaware from Maryland, along the Ohio River, and extending west to southern Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. The most notable influences on Southern cuisine are African, English, Scottish, Irish, German, French and Native American.
The food of the American South displays a unique blend of cultures and culinary traditions. The Native Americans, Spanish, French, and British have contributed to the development of Southern food, with recipes and dishes from their own cultures. Food items such as squash, tomatoes, corn, as well as certain cooking practices such as deep pit barbecuing, were introduced by south-eastern Native American tribes such as the Caddo, Choctaw, and Seminole. Many foods derived from sugar, flour, milk, and eggs have European roots. Black-eyed peas, okra, rice, eggplant, sesame seed, sorghum, and melons, along with spices, are of African origin.
Southern food can be further divided into categories: ‘Soul food’ is heavily influenced by African cooking traditions that are full of greens and vegetables, rice, and nuts such as peanuts. Okra and collard greens are also considered Soul Food, along with thick stews. ‘Creole food’ has a French flair, while ‘Cajun cuisine’ reflects the culinary traditions of immigrants from Canada. ‘Lowcountry’ cuisine features a lot of seafood and rice, while the food of the Appalachians is mostly preserved meats and vegetables. Southern food is partial to corn, thanks to the Native American influence.
Southern Food Heritage Day timeline
Following the emancipation from slavery, the Southern diet becomes versatile.
African Americans travel from rural communities in the South to large cities in the North and West — they carry their cuisine with them.
Southern foods start appearing on restaurant menus and appeal to a diverse clientele.
This term, describing everyday Southern food, first appears in print.
Southern Food Heritage Day FAQs
What is the difference between Southern food and soul food?
The difference between soul food and Southern food is rooted more in class than race, and what families were able to afford to put on the table.
What is a typical Southern meal?
A traditional Southern meal is pan-fried chicken, field peas, greens, mashed potatoes, cornbread or corn pone, sweet tea, and a pie for dessert.
Why is Southern food so unhealthy?
The Southern diet is commonly high in processed meats, which are high in salt and in nitrates, which are in turn linked to heart risk. The high sugar content of the diet may also lead to negative effects, like insulin resistance and inflammation.
How To Celebrate Southern Food Heritage Day
Organize a cook-off
Gather all your friends and organize a cook-off on Southern Food Heritage Day. Revive old recipes or add a twist to create something new.
Go out for a meal
Enjoy the best of Southern foods at your favorite Southern foods restaurant. Don’t forget to enjoy the classics like fried chicken, hush pies, and pies.
Set up a barbecue
Barbecues are an integral part of the Southern food heritage. It is also one of the most popular styles of cooking. Barbecue your favorite meats and vegetables, and serve them with sauces and seasonings.
5 Facts About Southern Foods That Will Blow Your Mind
Redeye gravy has a unique recipe
Redeye gravy is made with pan drippings and leftover coffee.
It is more calorie-dense
Southern fried chicken breast typically has more than 400 calories in an ounce.
Peanut butter is an essential
Half the annual crop of peanuts is used to make peanut butter.
Collard green has been around forever
It’s been a part of our diet for more than 2,000 years.
Black-eyed peas are also good luck charms
It is believed that black-eyed peas bring good luck on New Year’s Day.
Why We Love Southern Food Heritage Day
A day to indulge
You cannot celebrate Southern Food Heritage Day without enjoying a hearty meal of your favorite foods. This is truly a day of indulgence!
Try something new
The best thing about Southern food is that it has something for everyone. Use this day to try a new food item or the cuisine of Southern heritage. Who knows, you might just discover your next favorite dish!
It is historically significant
Southern foods have a rich cultural and historical significance. Learn more about the origins of your favorite foods on Southern Food Heritage Day.
Southern Food Heritage Day dates