Not to point fingers or anything, but there are a lot of people who think Southern food is just about eating pig and frying things. Not that there is anything wrong with some pulled pork or an occasional piece of fried chicken, but I think that it’s the side dishes that make the Southern table different. And no matter what Food Network might be showing you, most Southerners do not just eat deep-fried macaroni & cheese for dinner. We are blessed with a very long growing season, so we have access to lots of great vegetables most of the year. Most Southern cooks know how to cook veggies – green beans, cream corn and squash casserole, etc. One vegetable dinner I make in the summer is a Southern summer vegetable succotash. It’s a great way to use up all those veggies in your CSA box this week.
Forget Red State vs. Blue State. Okra divides this country as surely as any October college football rivalry. You either “get” okra, or you don’t. And if you live outside of the South, you probably just don’t get it. I know. I know. It’s weird. It’s slimy. It’s green and prickly. Maybe you just have to grow up with it to appreciate it. For me, growing up in East Tennessee, our childhood summer dinners would often just be a plate of fried okra, sliced tomatoes (both from with my Dad’s big vegetable garden) and cornbread. If there is a better summer dinner, I don’t know what it is.