If you’re a Yankee in a relationship with someone from the South, there are just some things you’re going to need to know about food.
Down South, we have a certain way of doing things. And if you really want to please your Southern sweetie at dinnertime, just work a few of these common-knowledge culinary traditions into the evening.
1. You can fry absolutely anything
Image: Fox Totorus
2. Ranch is more popular than ketchup
Ketchup is for fries. Everything else gets dipped in ranch. Actually, you can dip fries in ranch too.
3. Cast-iron skillets are the only acceptable nonstick cookware
Cast-iron is cheap, aids in proper browning, is sturdy and long-lasting and can even be used outside over a fire. Why on earth are you using that toxic-fume-releasing stuff again?
4. It’s pronounced “Crrs”
We do love our craft beers, but if you are going to order the Silver Bullet, the O’s are silent.
5. Frog legs taste like frog legs
Frog legs are good, but they don’t taste like chicken. You’re just telling yourself that because you’re uncomfortable eating frogs.
6. Rattlesnakes are food
They also don’t taste like chicken.
7. Red Lobster doesn’t serve Rocky Mountain oysters
Image: Lori Greig/Flickr
Rocky Mountain oysters are the testicles of a bull calf (sometimes sheep or pigs). They’re super-tasty fried (and we often dip them in ranch).
8. Milk is no substitute for buttermilk
Whether we’re making fried chicken, biscuits or pancakes, no, we can’t “just substitute milk.”
9. Pimento cheese isn’t lowbrow
Image: palmetto cheese/Flickr
Pimento cheese is a perfectly acceptable spread to serve guests, especially if it’s homemade.
10. There are two kinds of gravy
Brown gravy goes on things like roasted turkey, just like it does all over the U.S. But there’s also cream gravy. Made with sausage or bacon drippings (and often containing sausage itself), it’s frequently served on biscuits for breakfast, but we also make it to top chicken-fried steak or chicken, dip toast and steak or chicken fingers in it and more.
11. Chicken-fried steak has no chicken
It’s a tenderized piece of steak that we’ve fried in the style of fried chicken to make less-expensive cuts a little easier to get down your gullet. Chicken-fried chicken is pounded chicken fried in the style of chicken-fried steak and is different from fried chicken.
12. That extra stuff that comes with your bird isn’t trash
You use the neck and innards to make giblet gravy.
13. There’s a whole freakin’ aisle of salsa
Welcome to Valhalla.
14. Proper sweet tea has at least 1 cup of real sugar per quart
It’s not called “sweet-ish” iced tea.
15. If you like oatmeal, you’ll probably like grits
Much like tofu, they take on the flavor of what you cook them with.
16. Okra is the fried calamari of the South
Image: I Believe I Can Fry/Flickr
Same basic texture if you do it right.
17. Catfish is always fried
Full disclosure: It’s a bottom-feeder, so it doesn’t taste so great grilled.
18. Chicken and waffles is like breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast all the time
Image: I Believe I Can Fry/Flickr
Go on. Be a rebel.
19. Mayonnaise isn’t a proper burger condiment
Mustard is best, barbecue sauce is always OK, and ketchup is fine if you’re under 12, but put down the mayo jar and back away… slowly.
20. Spinach is for rabbits
In the South, we prefer greens of the mustard, turnip or collard variety cooked up with bacon or pork, and we serve it up with pepper vinegar.
21. Our definition of “medium” may be what you’d call “flaming hot”
Some Southerners are extremely capsaicin-tolerant, so unless you’re Indian or Thai, proceed with caution no matter how much we insist it’s “not that spicy.”
Hey, Southern gals! Tell us what your Yankee sweetheart needs to know about Southern cuisine in the comments below.