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Any iconic Southern foods you don’t like?

Biscuits (AJC file photo)

Biscuits (AJC file photo)

Since moving to the South, I’ve drawn up a whole new list of favorite foods. Like last-meal favorite. Delicious and soul-satisfying items such as collard greens, skillet cornbread and caramel cake.

But I managed to stir up a tempest the other day when I admitted on Facebook that biscuits have never really done it for me. The thought occurred when I was eating breakfast at Pastries A Go Go – the Decatur restaurant famous for its biscuits, which I have tried once or twice, but always eschew in favor of toast. I find them too rich and too crumbly, neither what I want for the casing of a breakfast sandwich nor as a vehicle for jam.

I had a reverse “Green Eggs and Ham” moment. I realized that I didn’t like the Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits my kids crave, and I never cared for the vaunted lard biscuits served with Watershed’s fried chicken. As far as biscuits with sausage cream gravy go, I … can’t. That is something I’ll never be able to face in the morning.

I do appreciate beaten biscuits served with thinly sliced country ham and butter — love them in fact, but that’s because they’re appropriately dense and crusted for sandwich duty.

But to me, regular biscuits always taste like shortening, even if they’re made with pure butter, cream or lard. I would eat a soft yeast roll or a wedge of cornbread any day. If eggs are on the menu, then toast is a must.

The response to this brief post was astounding, with 50 comments appearing in short order. Some jokingly threatened to unfriend me. But soon others were coming clean with the iconic foods they also didn’t like, such as sweet potatoes, pimento cheese, boiled peanuts and grits.

Nathalie Dupree, who wrote a book on biscuits, diplomatically suggested that I perhaps hadn’t ever tried a good one. I have, and they’re not for me.

For the rest of the day — at work, at the gym, walking around the neighborhood, people kept coming up to me, incredulous.

Is anyone with me?

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

78 comments Add your comment

Jennifer

February 17th, 2014
5:57 am

I love biscuits, but agree with you on sausage gravy. I can’t eat something that looks like the remnants of last night’s bender on a plate. I’m nauseous just thinking about it.

Ick on pimento cheese as well. And anyone who doesn’t like sweet potato is a freak.

Lisa

February 17th, 2014
6:00 am

I agree; sausage gravy is disgusting …I just imagine it clogging my arteries..ick. I also detest sweet tea.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
6:36 am

Love sawmill gravy and biscuits but your can give my country ham to someone else.

moist dawg

February 17th, 2014
6:49 am

only yankees would not like sausage gravy and sweet t. what makes me want to vomit is black eyed peas. i wont even eat them on new years and i still have good luck like when the dawgs blow out tech, LOL!!

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
7:15 am

moist dawg……you do speak the truth in general terms but most Yankees love sawmill gravy and sweet tea. At least that has been my experience. Black-eyed peas as a stand alone is weak. They must be combined w/ other ingredients to be enjoyed, imho.

Van Jones

February 17th, 2014
7:28 am

I LOVE biscuits and sausage gravy, black-eyed peas (even better with a little cornbread mixed in) and pretty much everything else on this list. However, I’ve never cared for okra. Fried, pickled, etc. it’s not for me.

Anton Chigurh

February 17th, 2014
7:31 am

Chitterlings are a horrible thing. In fact they had to named them something other than what they are in order to get people to try them. Boiled hog guts, anyone?

Anton Chigurh

February 17th, 2014
7:33 am

Also it’s pimiento, not pimento.

AJ

February 17th, 2014
7:56 am

@Anton – Either spelling is correct. Check out one of the online dictionaries

Finn McCool

February 17th, 2014
7:58 am

vienna sausages – no
pickled pigs feet – no no
livrmush – ugh
Muscadine anything – jam, wine, ugh
frito pie – it’s good, but you keep your bag. I’ll use my own bowl.

Finn McCool

February 17th, 2014
8:02 am

Sausage gravy has to be about 50/50 sausage to gravy to be worth my time.

oldsouthernboy

February 17th, 2014
8:10 am

If you are ever in Lawrencville in the morning between 5:30 and 10:30 am, try the Little Barn. They hand make delicious cathead biscuits and offer more that your standard sausage(really spicy good there) but other Southern favorites as pork tenderloin, hot links and smoke links. They also have the best sausage and gravy biscuits as they use the white gravy with their sausage. I do not recommend their grits however, too bland and watery for me.

Steve

February 17th, 2014
8:14 am

Biscuits made with butter and aluminum free baking powder that are light and fluffy are my favorite. Dense hockey puck biscuits, not so much. Try this trick – grate frozen butter into the flour mixture using a cheese grater. Then make simple drop biscuits where you barely handle the dough at all. Makes for the best biscuits.

John

February 17th, 2014
8:33 am

Okra. Quite possibly the single most disgusting food in history. Even more so than marmite.

Kathleen Purvis

February 17th, 2014
8:34 am

I’m not with you on biscuits, but to answer your other question, on Southern foods I can’t handle: Lemon meringue pie. It may not be Southern, although my Georgia parents celebrated it as a Southern food. But I still can’t swallow the stuff.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
8:37 am

FinnMcCool…….Vienna sausage? German and Austria in origin but eaten everywhere in the US. Mush? Eastern Europe and is most enjoyed in the mid-west, not in the South. But I must agree, I am not a big mush fan unless it is smothered in ‘real’ maple syrup.

Sluggo

February 17th, 2014
8:40 am

Collards on New Year’s Day, never bought into that philosophy. Maybe that explains perpetual state of being broke. Smothered country fried steak is another pass.Finally, while I like the taste, the awful color of red velvet cake makes me queasy.

Lizzy

February 17th, 2014
8:45 am

Finn McC – your list reads like a food group for the very poor & sadly unhealthy. How did you derive those items from Mr. K’s article about Southern classics, pray tell? I was fortunate to be raised by a genuinely Southern mother who cooked the classics but didn’t go the unfortunate route of over cooking, over salting and seasoning with massive quantities of cheap pork (fatback) which equates to everything tasting awfully similar and just awful if you’re used to quality cooking. Gravy was a very occasional item – usually made after frying chicken and it was to die for good, so I’m not some hoity toity psuedo Southern prissy pants.
John, I could take or leave a biscuit myself although once in a blue moon a well prepared one is sumptious. As to an iconic Southern dish that I’ll pass by – that woud be lowly collards (Mother opted for mustard or turnip greens) due to the stench that emanates from the dish. And, if you put a bowl each of similarly prepared turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens side by side the first two options are head and shoulders above their very poor relation in taste. So all you collard hounds – bring it, ’cause my greens will kick your butts on the buffet of world class Southern cuisine.

Jennifer Brett

February 17th, 2014
8:49 am

Collards. Boiled peanuts. Gross!

justmy2cents

February 17th, 2014
9:03 am

Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, black eyed peas, grits, sweet tea, okra, Muscadine wine or jelly, boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, butterbeans, fried catfish…I think that covers it.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
9:16 am

Lizzy……your mom was way ahead of her time and soooo right. Mustard and turnip greens are the go to choice. I like your challenge, wish we could have a cook-off. I may not win, But I just might. ha ha I did win a small contest once for my greens about 3 years ago. I also lost a small contest too.

jct

February 17th, 2014
9:16 am

I am preparing to get creamed. I don’t like fried chicken. Whew! I said it. I am preparing to go under a hole for the rest of the day.

jct

February 17th, 2014
9:17 am

But I really like biscuits! However, you can leave off the gravy.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
9:18 am

justmy2cents……wow, fried catfish. That is a surprise entry.

AzCat

February 17th, 2014
9:21 am

This transplant has tried (almost) everything Southern. Yes to black-eyed peas if cooked in gravy, grits, and biscuits, especially with a good sausage gravy on them. No to any of the greens (I’ve tried them all, more than once, and they were supposed to be ‘good’), sweet tea, butterbeans (wayyyy too close to their cousin, Lima beans) and an unequivocal NO to boiled peanuts and okra. Both are equally disgusting. I’m not sure chicken fried steak is Southern any more; maybe in origin but certainly not in distribution. I was eating cfs as a wee lad in the upper Plains states, ate it all the time in AZ, and still treat myself to it down here occasionally.

AzCat

February 17th, 2014
9:24 am

I take a pass on catfish, too, Balt. The underlying ‘flavor’ if it is offputting, to put it mildly.

AzCat

February 17th, 2014
9:26 am

…of it, not if it….

justmy2cents

February 17th, 2014
9:26 am

I can’t get past the smell, let alone the taste. Chicken livers too…is that considered Southern?

justmy2cents

February 17th, 2014
9:31 am

Almost forgot- banana pudding! It reminds me of food served in old folks’ homes. We used to pack it up when I volunteered for Meals on Wheels.

Amber

February 17th, 2014
9:34 am

Sluggo

February 17th, 2014
9:47 am

Let’s not forget the holiday foods.Christmas treats such as eggnog and fruit cake induce nausea to me.Boubon balls and mince meat can be added to the list of foods to avoid. Easter favorite baked ham does not work when it’s covered in yellow mustard and spiked with cloves. Another pass is a deviled egg of any fashion.

bc

February 17th, 2014
9:56 am

I could live in a world without chow chow and be happier

Betty

February 17th, 2014
9:58 am

Southern food like everything else is subjective. I love biscuits but cannot stand boiled peanuts. I can do fried chicken but the liver needs to be trashed and I prefer fried pork chops. Okra is not meant to be food I am convinced. One other favorite is sliced tomatoes with just salt and pepper.

M. Johnson

February 17th, 2014
10:00 am

Turnips, turnip greens, chitterlings, muscadines, pimiento cheese and OKRA!!!!

(the other) Rodney

February 17th, 2014
10:05 am

You all haven’t hit on anything I won’t eat, yet. ;)

I prefer turnips to any other green (but I don’t push the plate back if others are on it).

I prefer my mother’s prep for biscuits – hand patted into the pan and painted with just a bit of bacon grease on top.

Chicken livers – love ‘em.

Chitlins – had ‘em once. Didn’t mind them at all. Haven’t had the chance since.

Muscadine wine – heck, my Grandpa sold ’shine in the courthouse parking lot back in the 30s from a modified gas tank in his car. I ain’t got not problem with muscadine wine. ;)

Marsh

February 17th, 2014
10:13 am

I like all of the things listed here – as long as they are properly prepared. I don’t do cartwheels for okra alone, but stewed okra and tomatoes over rice is delicious.

As for pimiento cheese – if you’ve only had it out of a tub at the grocery store, then bless your heart. You have to make it yourself, preferably roasting your own red peppers. Quality cheese, a little mayo, the chopped peppers and a dash of cayenne. If it’s too thick, lay off the mayo and add a small splash of milk (evaporate if you’ve got it, sweet if you don’t). Pure heaven with a bowl of homemade tomato soup.

Marsh

February 17th, 2014
10:15 am

Wait..except chitterlings. Because no.

Ever try souse? Also good if properly prepared. If you eat tendons and tripe on Buford Highway, don’t turn your nose up until you try it. Look for quality, as in all things.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
10:42 am

This discussion is great. I am still blown away that fried chicken and fried catfish have made the list. I really like chicken livers steamed in beer and boiled chicken hearts. My Dr and I have reached a compromise, I can have chicken livers or hearts, not both, once a year, since my cholesterol is now below 170.

Okra, only if it is in Gumbo. Don’t believe the South can claim fried chicken or catfish though.

Sluggo….good call on that fruit cake. Claxton, Ga needs to be quarantined. I did not realize that eggnog is Southern? And deviled eggs is not a Southern dish by any stretch.

AzCat….if fried properly, 375 degrees and covered during frying, that fish smell will not be a problem. Catfish is so mild but if you want to insure no smell and really mild, fry some Swai, coated in Dixie Fry seasoned mix. You can tell Southern Chicken Fried Steak from Northern Chicken Fried Steak by the color of the gravy.

Jonathan

February 17th, 2014
10:43 am

Sweet tea, sweet potatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, Duke’s mayonnaise, and especially Brunswick stew (a/k/a roadkill add tomatoes). And I’m a southerner, albeit one who spent most of his adult life in New England.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
10:55 am

AzCat…..if you are willing to try lima beans again, try Ford Hook lima beans, it may turn you around a little bit. I was like you but my wife introduced me to Ford Hook years ago and I am now a fan and I really did not want to be a fan but there was no denying there is a big difference in taste.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
11:01 am

Jonathan….with you on Duke’s mayo but not on Brunswick Stew, sorry. Use the right road kill and you really have a great Southern meal.

(the other) Rodney

February 17th, 2014
11:55 am

Agreed w/ Baltisraul on Bqk stew – add a little squirrel and you’re in business. ;) (Not my normal recipe, mind you but I’ve had it and didn’t even notice it for what it was until after)

Veggie

February 17th, 2014
11:56 am

Mexican corn bread, French toast, Idaho potatoes, Italian sausage, Spanish olives, English peas, white Russians, Turkish taffy, Great Northern beans, Brazil nuts, baked Alaska and Dutch treats.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
12:00 pm

As Marsh stated, pimiento cheese must be homemade if you are to get the true experience. The only outside the home pimiento cheese that was really good was at the Masters. Not even Publix or Fresh Market can do it justice and they have a strong ‘rep’ in our home.

Baltisraul....

February 17th, 2014
12:04 pm

Veggie….now that’s funny!

other Rodney, toss in some rabbit with that squirrel and maybe a ’surprise meat’ of your choice and BINGO.

vahighlander

February 17th, 2014
12:11 pm

I hate most of the so-called “new” Southern cuisine served in top Atlanta restaurants. (Like Watershed, Wisteria, Southern Art, even Empire State South, etc.) Despise the sugar-infused vinaigrettes for the salads (please… never even think about putting sugar in a salad dressing!) Hate, hate, hate the bacon-in-everything & sugar-in everything mentality. Are these restaurants subsidized by the pork & sugar industries?

Bhorsoft

February 17th, 2014
12:16 pm

Here’s where I get in trouble. I don’t like Southern corn bread. The dry, crumbly kind with out even a hint of sugar. I’ll take the Jiffy Corn Muffin mix over Southern corn bread any day of the week.

I do like Sweetea and Cocola, but don’t drink either much because of my waistline.

AzCat

February 17th, 2014
12:48 pm

Balt, I am willing to try anything once and have made a note on the Ford Hooks. I am nibbling at Brussels sprouts now after turning my nose up at them for a long time.

It’s not the smell with catfish—I can put up with some pretty strong fishy odors—it’s that background taste that tells me this fish lives in the mud and eats God-knows-what. Could be as much psychological as anything, but it’s just really offputting.

MY2SENSE!

February 17th, 2014
1:15 pm

I was brought-up to never turn my nose up at any food that hit the table. In fact in my family, it’s considered rather sinful, or to be more accurate… ignorant, to be a picky eater or fussy about food in any way, shape, or form. Obviously we live in gluttonous times when all too much food is tossed-out and just plain wasted. As for my peculiar preferences, sweet tea is fine if it doesn’t pour like honey. My cornbread NEVER includes sugar you can taste. Homemade anything is better than store-bought including, mayonnaise and pimento cheese. And there isn’t a green leafy vegetable I won’t eat especially when it’s cooked with a smoked or fresh ham hock!

Ptc Dawg

February 17th, 2014
1:32 pm

Picky eaters get on my neeves.