It’s no secret that Carolinians love hearty servings of classic Southern delights like gravy-drenched biscuits or fried green tomatoes. But it’s also no secret that those born above the Mason-Dixon line may think these decades-old traditional Southern dishes are downright weird.
Southern Living was recently published. This list The rest of the world may find delicious Southern food unappealing. We politely disagree. I mean, come on – chicken fried steak? What’s not to love about it? And the gumbo? No trip to New Orleans is complete without a bowl of the famous Louisiana Stew.
In full disclosure, the author of this article was born and raised in Charlotte and grew up on fried chicken and boiled peanuts. But in the spirit of being unbiased, we took a long look at the list and recognized that foods with the word “liver” in them might not be for everyone.
Here’s a deep dive into the history of five of the strangest dishes you can find in the South, along with a few pointers on where you can find such foods locally.
According to Eats seriously.The hot, soft and salty treat has been a Southern staple since colonial times. West African slaves boiled peanuts, and their white southerners served them as a party food. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that they became a popular dish for small town weddings and other social events.
By the 1920s, it had become an “epidemic,” with boiled peanut vendors popping up everywhere. And until World War II, this treat was a complete Southern icon. In 2006, boiled peanuts were named the official snack of South Carolina.
Where to find them: These days, traditional boiled peanuts, along with Cajun hot boiled peanuts, are commonly sold at roadside stands and gas stations. You can usually find them at a local 7-11 store or just travel across the state line to get some. Patch Stand In Fort Mill
Country Fried Steak
Also called chicken-fried steak, this battered and fried dish is believed to have originated in Texas, where German and Austrian immigrants adapted the dish from wiener schnitzel. It is made by dipping a thin cut of beef steak in egg batter or buttermilk, then coating it in flour, salt and pepper. It is then fried and served with a thick creamy gravy on top.
Where to find it: TripAdvisor reviews La Van’s Soul Food Restaurant on South Tryon describes its country fried steak as “the real star of the show” with crispy breading and juicy steak. The dish is also a Cracker Barrel favorite.
Fried Chicken Gizzards
This one seems just gross. The gizzard is a thick, muscular organ found in the digestive tract of a chicken. It has a rich, chewy texture and tastes like dark meat. They are usually served with legs, wings, bread and hot sauce as well as a side.
Gizzards are not unique to the South, although grilled gizzards are sold as street food in Haiti and throughout Southeast Asia. Other countries serve them grilled, boiled or baked. But Southerners have perfected the art of fried gizzards. We can’t pinpoint an exact date when fried gizzards hit the scene, but we can guess the mid-1800s, when fried chicken began hitting American cookbooks everywhere.
Where to find it: According to Yelpis the best place to find fried chicken gizzards in Charlotte. Mr. Charles Chicken and Fishwhich serves them deep fried in the restaurant’s signature seasoned breading.
Fried green tomatoes
It’s not just a Hollywood movie title. This Southern fare uses raw green tomatoes, chopped and dipped in corn batter for frying. But according to Smithsonian Magazine, Their origins in the South may surprise you.
The dish is believed to have been brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants in the 19th century, first appearing on the Northeastern and Midwestern culinary scene. He was not popular in the South until the release of the book “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” in 1987 and the subsequent film.
Where to find it: square Lists Dish Restaurant at Plaza Midwood as the No. 1 place for Fried Green Tomatoes in Charlotte. This dish is the first item on the menu – as a signature dish – and is served with horseradish dill sauce or as an appetizer on top of its burgers and sandwiches.
Livermush (or really, anything with the word ‘liver’ in it)
This old-fashioned southern dish draws quite a reaction from northerners. According to CarolinaCountry.comA puree of hog liver, pig scraps, cornmeal and spices likely came south with German settlers from Pennsylvania. It became the go-to place in rural counties with textile mills and factories, where workers needed a prepared, filling meal that was tasty and affordable.
Where to find it: OnlyInYourState.com Recommends the livermush at Brooks Sandwich House in NoDa. His no-fuss liverwurst sandwich is served with onions, mustard and chili.