The chef of Michelin-star New York restaurant, Laut Singapura, hit the nail on the head when he defined regional cuisine as one of the strongest upcoming trends. “In 2020, I think that we’re going to be lifting up marginalized voices even more,” Salil Mehta said. “I think that we’ll continue to see even more regional cuisines gaining the spotlight with an increase in single-dish concepts,” he stated. Regional food will not only cover major divisions (e.g. southern and northern cuisine), but rather, will be further broken down. Southern food, one of America’s best-loved cuisines, will be divided into Creole, Lowland, Floribbean, and the like. We look at just a few dishes from the South that diners can expect to take hold in the rest of the U.S. as well.
Creole Spices Rule
Anyone who is either a health lover or a fervent gourmet who subscribes to food boxes knows that some of the most popular ingredients in home-cooked meals are those found in Creole food. The Creole tradition, which relies strongly on fresh, seasonal produce, is famed for its French/Spanish cooking techniques and its fragrant African spices. It is easy to recreate your favorite southern dishes at home and indeed, many food boxes come with fresh ingredients plus recipes so you can make everything from a spicy jambalaya to a soul-soothing rice and gravy. Peppers, onions, and tomatoes often make up the basis of meat and fish dishes cooked in a fragrant sauce and served with rice. If you’re curious about how delicious this cuisine can be, try a fresh crawfish étouffée for your main and for dessert, delight your sweet tooth with powdery, cinnamon-flavored beignets.
Appalachian cuisine is often hailed for the excellence of its desserts. Interestingly, sugar isn’t grow in Appalachia and the result is that recipes often contain maple syrup, honey and sorghum – all of which lend dishes a flavor and aroma that are difficult to resist. Examples of treats to try include sweet milk, muscadine (grape) pie, and hoecake. The latter is a fried cornbread that looks a little like a pancake but is dense and a little creamy. For something more savory, try shuck beans with bacon, fried zucchini, or okra bread.
French, English, Native American, and Spanish influences hold sway in this culinary tradition, which features the ingredients that American Indians once relied upon. These local ingredients – such as heart of palm, yucca, and plantains – are, interestingly, also used in Caribbean food so if you are a stickler for dishes that contain both sweet and savory influences, you should definitely give this tradition a try. Dishes to go ga-ga over include arroz con pollo (chicken rice), jerk chicken, seafood gumbo, key lime pie, conch fritters, and mango salsa.
The Southern food cuisine promises to be big in the upcoming months, but if you are a visitor who has never tried this cuisine before, make sure you savor the best your region has to offer. Floribbean, Appalachian, and Creole are just three different types of cuisine, though many more exist from region to region. Spice, seasonal produce, and a blend of sweet and salty flavors will be enticing many a diner — both those dining in and taking away.