On this episode, we are talking about odd Southern foods… more bizarre than putting your peanuts in a glass-bottled coke.. although we do recommend trying that. These are foods that us Southerners love that might come from a roadside stand or a gas station, but as we’ve mentioned before, the origin of eating such peculiar foods usually comes from times when folks needed to use all resources and waste not. Thank you to our patrons! We love you and could not — seriously could not have afforded to keep the podcast going without you. If you want to learn how you can get our bonus episode the Southern Sister Chat plus t-shirt and other Southern treats sent to you, then visit Patreon.com/SteelMagnolias. A few highlights of foods mentioned: Kool-aid pickles, pokeweed, aspics, liver mush, chocolate gravy and chitlins. Poke sallet: https://www.wildabundance.net/blog/pokeweed/
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You walk into a gas station; restrooms on the left jar of Kool Aid pickles on the right. Hmm? Now don't turn your nose up just yet to some, this is glory in a jar. What are the flavors and indulgences that make some of these odd foods of the south so appealing? Meet us at the table and we will tell you.
I'm Lainie, and I'm Laura Beth. And we are Steel Magnolias,
the strength of steel with the grace of a magnolia. We are
here to have uplifting conversations about life in the south.
And we've got plenty of room at our table. So pull up a chair.
We're back with another cultural dip into life in the south here on the Steel Magnolias podcast. Hope you guys are having a great week. Culture really is shaped a lot by food. For sure. Yes, I love when people start drawing in the impact of food, the heritage of food and what it has meant to previous generations and then what it means today,
Before we get started, I wanted to thank our patrons, we love you and we could not seriously could not have afforded to keep the podcast going without you. So if you want to learn how you can get our bonus episode, which is the Southern sister chat, plus a super cute t shirt and other southern treats sent to you then please visit patreon.com/steel magnolias. One of our patrons, Jason, up near DC messaged us the other day and said we have the best Patreon. So I think he actually supports other creatives as well. And I'm so happy to hear that someone that's been with us for almost two years is happy. Thank you, Jason. Happy with our perks.
So Okay. Today we are talking about odd southern foods. And there are some bizarre ones, but we're talking I mean, a little more bizarre than like peanuts in a glass bottle of Coke. That is a little odd. That's kind of an odd pairing. It’s an odd pairing or cornbread put in buttermilk. Yes, that's something that our mom loves. Yes, very southern. Yeah, but that's just an unusual pairing. Yeah, cornbread and buttermilk alone are not that unusual, right?
I don't know these are odd just from the get go like this ingredient or this put in your mouth is
unfortunately, that's what I was gonna say. We're saying it's odd because you know, it's not something that we eat on a regular basis or something but there's a reason that it's an offering because people like it Sure. Absolutely. And there again, they hadn't stopped selling some of these in a gas station. Things that I love. I love wasabi like some people are like, Oh my gosh, that's disgusting. yeah. acquired taste or different palate. So yeah, we're just gonna popcorn around and talk about some very kind of odd or Bizarre Foods That Are flavorful to us southerners.
while you mentioned one in the intro, KoolAid pickles. Such a funny I remember seeing that in those huge jars, huge jars in the south in gas stations, like you mentioned are just Yeah, some people even call them koolickles? Yeah. They were pretty much developed in the Mississippi Delta. So what things were like yeah, they have a very strong culture, I believe there.
So if you are into very sweet things you would be this would be KoolAid as a brine like the powder of koolaid mix,
Along with the pickle juice. So like the sweet and tart together so lots of sugar, but yes, the crunch of the pickle the saltiness that's already in a pickle. It sounds like something special. I
haven't tried this but I would be very willing to try this. Yes, I would be willing to try this as well. I'm not a huge pickle eater. Like I like them okay. Yeah, you know, but they a lot of people say this tastes like candy. Okay, so I have a sweet tooth so I'm all about some candy depending on how long they sit in that mix Yeah. more prominent flavors gonna come from the koolaid and color like this funny about this is whatever color koolaid you are using is what color Yeah, pickles are going to be so pinks and reds primarily mostly oranges. Main apparently I did read this. The most popular flavors that are used is the cherry Okay, Tropical Punch. I believe that Yeah. grape. I see I was about to ask you Did they do great because I don't think I've seen grape, blue raspberry, which would be hilarious because it would be that bluish pull mouth would be blue. Yeah, lime and orange. Those are apparently the most popular flavors, but any flavor you prefer is okay. That's a pretty that's like enough almost the whole gamut of Kool Aid flavors. I didn't hear a strawberry lemonade in there. I usually have seen the red though. Yeah. tropical plant. Yeah, yeah, that's so true. Well, it sounds like something special. So if you see it, all you have to do if you want to try this is, you know the sugar and the Kool Aid in with the pickle juice that's already in the jar, pour it back over the pickles and put it in the refrigerator for about a week and you shake it every other day to make sure that the brine is like, okay, completely distributing okay over all of the pickle. Okay, and it'll take on that flavor and color. Well, I’m glad you mentioned that because that's probably going to be of the ones I have on my list the most easy to prepare at home like the the least difficult and the least sort of what should I say? Like labor intensive?
Thank you, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking of.
I was thinking, how fun would it be to do like the color of your team in with the tailgate. Like, if you're you know a Vol fan like us, have your koolaid pickles orange with your color scheme of your tailgate- so festive. You know, whatever your team color. She’s not just good at tablescaping y’all, she can pair colors of the team into the food.
I just think that could be really fun and different. I like that.
Okay, I want to mention one that like we just said that one sounds like you could give it a shot at preparing it home. This one I wouldn't because I would be nervous and that is pokeweed. oh my gosh, I didn't have this on my list. Okay, so pokeweed is a plant that grows in my backyard sometimes. It is poisonous unless it's boiled correctly and so, I’m out. Yes, I’m out. Because I mean, I'm talking poisonous like sickly/deadly. So in the spring and early summer shoots and leaves (not the root) are edible. So the shoots and the leaves nothing to do with the root with the ground what's under the ground, but it's high in vitamin A, it has significant amounts of vitamin C, iron and calcium. It's always eaten cooked so just put raw pokeweed off the table for sure. I cannot stress enough this has to be cooked properly. And then what you probably would see would be a poke salad.
Right and it's like somebody's saying Polk salad, but it's made into one word. It's Polk salad.
Now I looked this up. Sallet is actually what it's called. Okay, I
thought it was that somebody was trying to say poke salad so
well they do. No, that's it. You're you're you're right and you're you're right and you're wrong, you're wrong. But we're all right and wrong the way we say it around here so it's pronounced around the South is Poke salad, the word sallet, it comes from an older form of English and refers to something like a cooked salad. Okay, so that's what I'm saying. That's right and so the country folks that I thought were saying it wrong are actually saying it right-yes. So now you know Poke salad is actually Poke sallet, but it is a salad. So call it what you will. But yeah, you would you would be boiling like I said the the pokeweed a green Leafy weed. And I'll put it I did find a recipe of somebody that you know, knows what they're doing and had a good recipe on it. So if you're want to try Poke sallet, well, I'll try it. I'll put it up. This is one of those things, you know, I'm sure a lot of these things were birthed out of need. Well, you know, yard what's growing? Yeah. And we are blessed in this country to, for the most part have the ability to go buy spinach and go buy it you know, at the grocery store. But, bok choy, like we're on to other nations producing stuff for sure. Yeah,
Napa cabbage. Exactly. But if that's not you know, if we were to go through some major depression and you needed some vitamin A greens- get your pokeweed. We are coming to Lainie’s. Well, I always pull it up because it gets so tall and big, so I may not even have any any more.
Well, yeah, I'm glad you recognize it. I'll let it come in if we if we get into a depression again.
The Mississippi Delta again, another thing born out of that area, well Corinth, Mississippi, I'm not sure of exactly where that is. Have you ever heard of a slug burger?
No. But Corinth, Mississippi came up. I think they had a funny festival that we mentioned. So, they have a Slugburger Festival, but I don't think we mentioned it. We have a festival for everything. We really do- like there is probably a Koolaird pickle festival, I just don't know where it is. I have some festivals to mention later. Yeah, well, there's a slug burger festival in Corinth, Mississippi. Okay, it's Northeast Mississippi and North Alabama is where this is popular. This slug burger is a patty made from a mixture of beef and pork and an inexpensive extender such as soybeans. So there again, this is coming from need. We don't have a lot of beef or we don't have a lot of pork. How can we make this go further? We make a mixture. Why are they calling it a slug though? That is a disservice to the slug burger, honestly, because what you just described sounds great. Sounds nice. I would totally do that. Well, it's deep fried, and typically served on a bun with just like a hamburger mustard, pickles onion, okay, you know, with a side of fries or onion rings or something like that. But apparently it was originated from somebody named John Weeks. And so it was called the weeks burger. Okay. And then later called a slug burger. Okay, so I don't know where that exactly came from. But it's the extending of meat, smart, out of need. That's right.
Okay, I'm gonna mention one that I haven't seen for a few years. And I don't know if I'd ever seen it before, which was frog legs. Oh, yeah. At our great Aunt Boots’ funeral in the fellowship hall, where all the food was laid out. They had fried frog legs, and it's just exactly what do you think of? Yeah, frog legs. Now you see this worldwide? Yeah, that's true. You know, but in America, I don't see it a lot. Other than in the south- especially coastal places. And you see it a lot in That's big in Louisiana. Places where, you know, there's a lot of frogs. But if you like salted and fried food, you would like frog legs. Yeah. So I don't really know if I gotta say much more about that. You get the picture?
I'll tell a funny story. I was, um, maybe two brave for my own good. I went to China alone. Oh, my gosh, yes, you did? Yes, you did. And the first week I was with a family. So it was great. The second week, I was alone. And that was probably crazy. But I went to this one restaurant. And in many of the restaurants, This is not like, when you're in Europe or something, menus are not in English. And because of it being a communist country, Google translator doesn't work. And they have a lot of control of what you can use and not use on your electronic devices. So I have nothing. I'm playing charades. So I basically would go in to a restaurant and look at the pictures and point and kind of like, what is that, you know? And I saw this one picture that looked lovely. And I'm pointing to it. And I'm like, trying to get the girl to tell me and she can put in her phone. She has a translator. Oh, okay. And so she puts it in her phone and turns it around. And it said Bullfrog and I'm like, Oh, no. I will find something else. That is hilarious. That actually brings me to a point of when we were talking about food that comes out of need. Yeah. In a lot of places in the world. Like think about China and it’s population numbers. They eat all parts of all animals. Yes, yes. So I saw things like duck bills fried wow, like you can still see that's what it is the shape. I didn't need a sign to tell me what it is. I would never think that that was edible. I haven't tried it, Maybe it's tasty.
So I'll start with some of the ones we do here- pickled pig's feet. Oh, yeah, that's big here. I would never have thought that pigs feet would be good if it were just left to me to decide. I would never have thought looking at that. You know what it is from the shape.
Split hooded. Little leg. Little Foot. Yeah. Fast forward 30 seconds, if we're grossing you out. But yeah, so just for pigs feet cleaned. And then you're gonna get you know, bay leaves white vinegar, salt, sugar, onion, maybe a whole green pepper, salt and pepper to taste and that can be pickled. So many things can be pickled. Did you Know that those are sometimes called trotters? which makes sense. They're also, I found this interesting, very high protein, and particularly in collagen that's in those tendons and skin. So it's considered by many authorities to be very good for the joints and the skin health. Wow. I wouldn't have thought of that as a healthy food, but if it's good for your joints and skin- I mean yeah, go collagen!
Let me touch back on the hog-fried chitlins Oh yeah. So what is a chitlin? You might be asking. Well, it is. Again, fast forward 30 seconds if you are a little squeamish right now. It is the small intestine of a pig and it's boiled and then fried and then served with like apple cider vinegar and maybe even hot sauce. Yeah. And some people call them chitlins. Some people call them chitterlings. But gas stations would be selling this. So pickled pig's feet, fried chitlins, KoolAid pickles, all three of those so far, I know you could find at a gas station around here.
Some other unusual just, I guess meat parts. oxtail. Have you ever heard of oxtail?
No. If I have not. It is often used in stews, slow cooked. okay, it's the tail of cattle. Yeah, I don't know what else to say about that.
Yeah, pig tail. That would be like a meat dish served with like green beans or turnip greens. Black Eyed Peas, boiled cabbage. It actually seems like there's a lot of recipes that you could use pig tail for. So I mean, you might be listening to this going. We eat pigtail at my house, but we prepared it more like you know with like an Asian sort of flair to it. I think there's a lot of variety in what you do with pig tail.
So. well now one word that I have heard over the years, I actually looked up the pronunciation because I'm like, okay, am I saying this right? Offal. So it's a word that refers to edible organs. Okay, that varies region to region on what that might be sure. Kind of a lump sum word, but it does usually exclude muscle. So if somebody’s talking about offal, well, they are talking about organs. If you've heard that term, that is what it is. Sounds like chitlins would fall into the category of offal. Yeah, that's true. That's true. overlap in some of these words.
Well, and we’ve got to mention, what would what you do to use the pig liver, the part of the some parts of the pig head, some cornmeal and spices, and that would be Livermush. Our mom said her grandmother made this, our great grandmother. This is pretty popular in North Carolina. And so Oh, I did say I had a festival to mention. This is it. So this may have originated from German settlers who travelled through the south and through the Appalachian Mountains. You know, I'm talking like 1700-1800s. But there are three different towns in North Carolina that have livermush festival. You're kidding me? Yeah. So in Shelby, North Carroll or Shelby, North Carolina, which is where they have one of the festivals. They're on record as saying livermush is the most delicious, most economical and most versatile of meats. Wow, okay, so it has to be 30% liver. Yeah, to be considered liver mush, but it's going to be a blend of Yeah, various things. It's usually eaten for breakfast or lunch. Wow. Okay. So hitting the day head on whatsoever, much. acquired taste, I would say.
Okay, now livermush derives from scrapple. Have you ever heard of scrapple? I've heard of Scrapple but I don't know much about Scrapple. Well, some people might be going that's not a southern thing. Apparently, it came from the Pennsylvania Dutch. Oh, but it's best known as an American food of the Southern and mid Atlantic states. Sometimes I think that happens because it may not have originated here, but we're the ones that are still doing it. Or migrations that have happened of people and so they take it with ya anyway. Yeah. Well, it's traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour or buckwheat flour, spices, so it is a mush that's formed into a semi solid congealed loaf. Yeah. Okay. Slice Okay. Pan Fried before serving so interesting there again, people using what they had and trying to avoid waste. Yeah, yeah. Oh, Making things go a little further.Let me take a quick break from meat just for a second.
Yes, I didn't have this on my list either. But that is unusual.
I tried this for the first time about three years ago. And I gotta say, I still prefer sausage gravy on my biscuit. Yes, but it really is a fun combination. If you've got a sweet tooth and you are one that would gravitate to like a chocolate croissant or a doughnut or you know what I mean? If you like that real sweetness in the morning, you know, it's just made with cocoa sugar milk, vanilla, what's not to love about that?
Serve that on your biscuits, served warm- chocolate gravy would be served warm over a buttermilk biscuit.
Now that's not something we ever had growing up. Oh, no, um, was real big into sausage gravy. Yeah, that's usually what we would have if we had any gravy. But yeah, that’s a thing.
But then you also have what also is sort of different, which is red eye gravy. Now I'm back on piggy parts.
I don’t like red eye gravy. I don't either. But its made with coffee, which that's why I wanted to mention it because that's odd to be making your pan fried ham and coffee. Yeah, together. It sounds unusual. But that is where the name came from, red eye, like all that caffeine. You know, getting that caffeine in there. Thank you for mentioning that is why it's called that and there's not like a redness to it or anything. But yeah, it's sort of playing up on the sweet or the hams fat that has a sweetness and putting in some saltiness. And anyway, some people like it, it's pretty easy to make and that could be served over ham. And if you had some buttermilk biscuits on the side, you could sop up that gravy.
So now another thing that we kind of skipped in our pork conversation is cracklins and pork rinds. Oh, goodness, that's
a huge one. Yes. And those are different but similar. To make cracklins it's a cut of pork that has the skin on it. Right. So the pork fat and meat attached together. Whereas pork rinds is only the pork fat. Okay, so fat has a lot of flavor. It does a lot of people you know, like this as a salty tasty snack. Yeah, yeah. You'll see this again in a grocery stores left and right, where sometimes homemade pork rinds or sometimes bagged from a company. But I've even seen pork rinds used in like, fancy high end restaurants. So, Sean Brock put a pork rind with a little pimento cheese and like, you know, fluff it up and it is probably a $20 appetizer. For a very tiny little serving in the middle of a large plate. Yeah, that reminds me of I mean, years ago when we did an episode talking about grits being on fancy menus now and how funny we thought that was. Yeah, because that was like a cheap food.
So also let's talk aspic. Oh boy. So aspics are typically meat jellies. I may have just gagged a little. We love a congealed salad, yeah that has fruit or yeah that's what I like but I think that's what this is the same thing it's a savory Yeah, it's made with meat stock or broth instead of a sweet
Yeah, I just swallowed a little too. That's what I thought I saw. I've seen these, I haven't seen one in a long time- but when I was growing up and we would go to East Tennessee I would see these sometimes. So they will often have pieces of meat or vegetable or eggs in it and it's clearish. Yeah, as you can see through the gelatin And so you can see like boiled eggs sliced in there chunks of meat vegetables, etc. Yeah. So it's just unusual to me because it's a savory gelatin.
Now I've heard of tomato aspic and if you've heard of aspic, that might be the one you've heard of. Would that have meat in it? Or is that like a Bloody Mary gelatin? Perfect example. Those were really popular. At luncheons and Showers. Yeah, things like that in the South. Yeah, they'll often have bits of celery or veggies in it. It's basically a Bloody Mary gelatin form if you like Bloody Marys then maybe you should try tomato aspic. There's some great recipes out there. We don't have one in particular. Yes. I don't love this. Yeah. Yeah, tomato aspic or meat aspic.
You know, we haven't even mentioned boiled peanuts. I don't have a ton to say about boiled peanuts and have it on my list. But if you like a soft, I will emphasize soft, and salty treat because that is the surprise because you're looking at a roasted peanut, and you're imagining your head. This is crunchy, hardshell No, it's been boiled. So no, it's soft. But yeah, that's a huge part of Southern culture at roadside stands and maybe even be in the grocery. Our friend down at the Alabama peanut company. That's how he got his start was having a stand at the Antique sales that his parents used to participate in and it was doing well enough that he decided to take it to the next level.
Yeah, well, another thing I have heard of, but I don't believe I've ever seen this. I hope I pronounced it right. Daube Glace. Oh, okay. Oh, it is French,it’s got French roots. I's used for Creole special occasion. Okay, things, but it's a nourishing beef and vegetable stew. Okay. We like our stews here. That's right. So if you've heard of this, it’s kind of a meaty aspic consumed on crackers. That's something you might see in Creole culture. Well, I think that's the ones I had on my list.
The only other thing I was gonna say you might see around in the south, I don't have a lot of notes here or anything, but we pickle everything. Everything in the world. You can see pickled beets, pickled okra, pickled eggs. Yes. You mean anything? You can? Basically, you know, we're known for chow chow on the sides of our beans. Yeah. And that's just various pickled vegetables. In fact, in my small group, we have a guy who's Korean. And we had a meal together again. We got talking about Kimchi, which is very popular right now. I love kimchi, and I'm sure it's been around for centuries.
And so I had brought a bok choy dish to the meal. And somebody said, is that kimchi? I had put like a Korean sauce on it. It has kind of a reddish look. And somebody said, is that Kim Chi? And I said, No, it's just a bok choy dish. And he was like, Do y'all want some kimchi? I have some kimchi. And I'm like, Yes. Bring out the kimchi. Yeah. And then there's a couple people that are like, what's Kimchi? And he said, Well, it's hard to describe, but, and I said, because I knew the person was from the south. Have you ever had chow chow? And he said, Yes, that's the closest thing I've ever had to Kimchi. Yeah, that's a good comparison. Anyway, but we love pickling things. I would say as listeners are probably thinking through this, there's probably even a whole episode we could do just like on odd pairings. Yes. I'm sitting here thinking about do you remember growing up the way our mom would make a pineapple salad?
Oh, yeah, the pineapple rings so, like a few pieces of
lettuce? Yes. And then on top of that you put from a can Yeah, pineapple ring. Yes. And then to depend on like, a dab of mayonnaise and then shredded cheddar cheese and then paprika. I don't know I still think that's a very odd it's yummy thing to this day and some people do it with pear or something else from the can. Again, what's in the house that we can make go far? Well yeah, I would love to see some strange foods if y'all are ones that partake of any of these or if you see some out so it's your local gas station. If you do if you post a pic to Instagram tag us and we're going to start giving out some T shirts this week. Oh fun our Peace be with you shirts. So be sure to tag us so that we can see your picture. But post some odd southern foods that you see around or that you that you enjoy or that you know of.
All right, well Peace be with you, Laura Beth,
and also with y’all.