Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is Southern Food? (And Curry Chicken, Part Two!)

My husband came home from a meeting at the school last week telling me that a student group at the seminary is discussing having an International night this semester.  One of the cultures represented?  Southern.  I didn't quite know that we were international, but you know, I love talking about the South so much that I might just go as an ambassador!

Of course, we started discussing just what we might offer if we were to represent sweet Dixie.  We both agreed would have to go with something that most people associate with the south.  I came across a "Southern" food stand at a market up here which offered the exact thing I am talking about.  What is Southern food (to a Yankee)?  It is fried!  Chicken, catfish, okra, cornbread, take your pick.  The fried offerings at that market represent the world's (or the North's) conceptions of everything Southern.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of fried food to go around in the South, but there's more to the south than that.  So we kept thinking; what else is as closely associated with the South as fried chicken?  Bingo, there are casseroles!  And these are not just any casseroles, they are made with cans of condensed soup. 

The problem is, apart from a very few exceptions, I don't make can of soup casseroles.  Also, I have never made fried chicken, or anything else that required a large vat of oil, in my house!  It's just not me.  I have an identity crisis; can I call myself Southern?

Well, if you have been reading here for any time at all, or if you are from the South yourself, you know there is more to Southern food than fried chicken and can of soup casseroles.  So, what would you have represent the South?  Me?  I am thinking that shrimp and grits and a taste of real, homemade banana pudding gives a great feel for the comfort food kingdom.  Or maybe I would have BBQ chicken and cornbread, and bread pudding for dessert.  So, hypothetically, if you were asked to make a Southern meal at an International celebration, how would you represent Dixie?  Let me hear from you!

In the meanwhile, I'm going to leave you with one of my few dishes that does use a can of condensed soup (or two!).  It's Curry Chicken, Southern style!  This meal is so fast, and the recipe can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.  It is one of my go-to recipes when we are entertaining large groups of people for lunch or supper. 

Quick Curry Chicken

1 cup green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons red curry powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken

Cook the onion in butter until tender, but not brown.  Add the soup; heat and stir until smooth.  Stir in sour cream, spices, and lemon juice.  Add the chicken and heat through.  Serve over hot rice.  Sprinkle condiments over curry as desired. 

Condiments:  flaked sweetened coconut, chopped roasted peanuts, chutney, chopped green onion, chopped hard boiled eggs, crumbled bacon. 

Pin It!


Lex said...

Last year we did pulled pork bbq with coleslaw...can't remember what else but you definitely need to represent!

Lauren said...

Peggy would say Little Debbies :), Dad makes a mean banana pudding, Jared loves a good Pecan Pie (he is half Yankee though), I love a good shrimp boil, the family can throw down some country ham, biscuits, and gravy (as well as most other foods), but a fun thing to throw in the mix is the all fried buffet in Van Buren, AR. They even fry creamed corn. :)

Tickled Red said...

Haha, I have the same identity crisis as well. Shrimp and grits for sure. How about Hoppin John,Sweet Potato Casserole(there isn't any condensed soup in that one) and there is always Chicken n dumplings. Hope those help you out :)

Barbara said...

To me, a classic Southern meal is what we eat in the summer! Fresh corn, fresh butter beans or zipper peas with a little okra thrown in(The Yankees I know think there is only one kind of pea - sweet peas! They don't know what they're missing), sliced tomatoes, corn bread, and peach cobbler or homemade peach ice cream for dessert!...oh and don't forget the iced tea!!

Anonymous said...

This post is too funny because it reminds me of my Yankee husband who thought all Southern food was fried also! I've had to open his eyes to the wonderful world of Southern cooking. To represent the South I'm all about our traditional New Year's staples-collards and black eyed peas!

Barefoot Belle said...

I have loved reading everyone's responses!
Hoppin John, greens, sweet potato casserole, sweet tea! I am hungry...and homesick!
Lauren, definitely Pecan pie (as long as you say pecan correctly; only yankees pronounce it like Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally..."But I would be proud to partake of your pea-can pieee.").
Barbara, I totally agree! Fress vegetables from the curb market in the summer are the best southern offering! I especially love getting vegetables from roadside stands and farms at the beach. Mmmm. I cannot wait to come home this summer!
I also had some great suggestions from a friend on facebook, so I'll add those here: brunswick stew, gumbo, key lime pie, and salads topped with candied pecans! Yum. I think I'll go make all of these. Right now.

Margaret said...

Hi! So fun to read your blog! Well, my husband and I spent four years in NC so on Tuesday he'll be making pulled pork and coleslaw, and maybe I can convince my husband to try hush puppies as well. That and sweet tea! And he makes a mean banana pudding. Hmmmm looks like our menu will be decidedly heavy on the carbs. I miss the pulled pork sandwiches and hush puppies the most from North Carolina.

But when I think of "Southern Cooking" I think of Paula Deen, casseroles, vegetables (any and all) flavored with ham, jello molds and tea sandwiches. And oh, the sweet tea!

Three Peas In A Kitchen said...

You are a woman after my own heart! And it's SO hard to pick what I would serve at ONE ambassador meal for the South. But I'd have to say I'd serve fried chicken, cheese grits, green beans with ham hocks, biscuits with blackberry preserves, pecan pie, and a tall glass of sweet tea.

I love your blog! Beautiful pictures and stories. I'm a student as well, so I completely relate to the hectic schedule that comes with it.

I'll be back! :)

Kelly said...

Hmm...I'd say Chick-fil-a. A #3 8-count with a large sweet tea, please.