When I moved from Connecticut to James Madison University, there were a few foods I really, really missed. As in, I was almost as homesick for certain foods as for my family. But now, I too can appreciate some Southern food.
Sometimes in my dream world, we live in a world where my Northern favorites can co-mingle with my Southern favorites. If that world existed, it would feature the following delicacies:
Well, this one was obvious. The Tri-State area is known for their pizza, and in my time living in Virginia, I have yet to find a place that holds a candle to Northern pizza. Without even exaggerating, there are about a dozen good* pizza places within a few mile radius of my Connecticut house. In Virginia, there are a handful of places in the greater Richmond area that make a decent pie.
*Good is defined as non-chain, family-owned pizza that's a bit greasy with a thin, flavorful crust and cooked to perfection.
I love bagels, but Virginia can really screw them up. New York-style bagels is where it's at. At one of the "best" bagel places in Virginia (Bodo's Bagels in Charlottesville), I went in expecting a New York bagel. What I got was a soft, flimsy bagel. A real, good Northern bagel is soft on the inside with a crispy shell. That's just not prevalent in Virginia, not even at places with the legacy of being the supreme bagel of the South.
And to tell you a secret -- don't you dare steal my idea -- I want to name my future dog after my favorite carb: Bagel.
3. Bagel and Lox
Building off of #2, we've got one of my favorite breakfast (or lunch or dinner) foods of all time. But when I moved down here, I quickly realized that's not normal down here. Someone once brought it into the office, and everyone betched that it smelled bad and no one wanted it.
Real talk: I wanted it. I would have eaten the whole damn platter of salmon.
For the record though, bagel and lox is penetrating the South, and Cazey has been known to feast on one of my favorite brunch meals.
4. Pastrami Sub
This might not be a Northern thing, but it's definitely less of a thing down here. When I think of grinders back home (is the word "grinder" itself Northern, Southern or neutral? I've been down here so long I can't even remember), I think of pastrami, loaded up with onions, a slather of mayo and all the grease and joy of a diner.
You don't get that kind of hook-up down here. But that's okay, because the South has some food that really makes my heart happy too.
1. Pimento Cheese
To this day, I barely know what pimento cheese really is. I think it's cheese, olive pits and mayo with jalapenos if you like it spicy, but I really don't actually know. Nor do I really care. All I know is pimento cheese is good on crackers, pretzels, sandwiches, meats, spoons and probably even if I dipped my hand into it and then licked it off. This is getting weird, so moving on...
2. Chicken and Dumplings
Ah, nostalgia. I used to go to Cracker Barrel and order chicken and dumplings with my two sides of chicken and dumplings. It's total comfort food, featuring the white gravy, thick dumplings and moist bits of chicken. If the South does anything right, it's their treatments of chicken and sauces.
3. Chicken and Waffles
Again, with the chicken. But this time it's fried and laid on a waffle bed. Honestly, if I needed a metaphor of why I love brunch so much, it's chicken and waffles: the perfect medley of lunch and breakfast.
With carbs, of course because what would a meal be without carbs. And meat.
So as much as I like Northern bagels, Southern biscuits have a place in my heart too. And to give extra bonus points to the South, the North really does suck at biscuits. They're just not the same.
The same, buttery, flaky bits of Southern-style cooked heaven. **Drools on keyboard and ends this list.**
In all reality, my lists are rather carb heavy. What Northern and Southern foods would you add to my Mason Dixie food match-up? Throw them in the comments and let's continue to appreciate what not seceding has done for us all.