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World Flavor Wednesday: Recipes from the Deep South

Ben Mims' Perfect Cornbread

Growing up in the American South has had its ups and downs. It's brutally hot, for one thing. NASCAR is a thing that people like, and I'll never understand it. College football is not just a hobby, but a way of life for some. There's never a shortage of biscuits, corn, or beer. It's easy to poke fun at Southerners, with their drawling accents and their pickup trucks and their obsession with boiled p'nuts, but these people (for the most part) are friendly, hospitable, and always willing to cook you a good, homemade meal. I'd say that's the one thing that unites us all down here: Food. The South has an ugly past that we're not proud of, but it's our food culture that has given us all something worth celebrating. After all, what would Southern cuisine be without its influences from African, English, French, Spanish, and Native American cooking?

I haven't always loved living in the South, but I've developed a deep appreciation for it over the past few years. While I currently live in Birmingham, Alabama, I grew up in Atlanta. The city is home to some of the best fried chicken, grits, and peach pies that you'll ever eat. It's Southern at its roots, although some might argue that modern-day Atlanta looks nothing like the rest of the South. In a way, Atlanta is like me--born in the South, but not always identifying as a Southerner. I don't have an accent, but I do say "y'all" on occasion. I don't cook a lot of Southern food at home, but I can never resist fried green tomatoes when I see them on a menu. Whether you've lived here your whole life or just one day, the South sticks with you just like its rich, buttery food sticks to your ribs. I will leave the South one day, but I'll take a piece of it with me wherever I go. It'll always be home.

Now, if you've never had a plate of biscuits and gravy or a real good "meat 'n' three", you're missing out. Allow me to share some of our best-loved Southern classic with you. I hope you'll grow to love them as much as I do.

Divine Pimiento Cheese

Real Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Old-Fashioned Collard Greens

Fried Green Tomatoes

Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie

Real Banana Pudding