Beginning in Natchez, Mississippi and running 444 miles to Nashville, Tennessee (or vice versa), the Natchez Trace Parkway follows the historic Old Natchez Trace through three states. Initially used by Native Americans who were following the tracks of large game such as bison, the Trace became an important trail for settlers, slave traders and soldiers. Today, it makes for a gloriously scenic drive filled with opportunities to stop and sample some of the South’s best food.
Consider this a second helping of “Eating Your Way Down the Music Highway,” as we here at Foodie Travel USA showcase more of the best dining options along Tennessee’s Music Highway, the official designation of the strip of Interstate 40 that runs between Nashville and Memphis. The route is only about a four-hour drive between the two major cities, so really, what’s your hurry? Take your time and savor some great out-of-the-way restaurants with a short side-trip or several stops off the main highway. If the word “barbecue" isn’t enticing enough, consider at least taking a break from watching mile markers click by to stretch your legs where the air smells delicious.
Every state has an iconic food. Think of Maryland and your mind goes to crab cakes, Pennsylvania and it’s a juicy Philly Cheese steak, West Virginia (yes, West Virginia, hey, it’s my home state, I have to show it a little love) has pepperoni rolls, and in North Carolina, it’s barbecue. While these foods may be the first to come to mind, they’re by no means the only foods worth note. Take North Carolina, my adopted home state, as an example. Yeah, we’ve got barbecue—two styles and a dozen great places for each—but with more than 300 miles of coastline we have exceptional seafood, and every ethnic group that’s called this state home has left a greasy thumbprint on our food culture. So, if you’ve got a hankering for some of the iconic foods of North Carolina, here’s my list of where to start.
When I first moved to the South years ago, one food item stood above the rest as an introduction to my adopted new food culture: Grits. Though not commonly spotted on Northern menus, grits are a standard feature on Southern menus, from humble eateries to fine dining establishments. Grits are a humble ingredient and can be prepared a number of ways, from thick and creamy to light and fluffy, from runny to firm cakes. In skillful cook’s and chef’s hands, grits are treated to such inventive uses that the more I discovered about grits the more my infatuation with them grew.
All of us here at Foodie Travel USA wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. We’d like to take this opportunity to say a simple “thank you” for reading our posts. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy putting it together and digging into flavors from coast to coast. While gearing up for the holiday, some of us stopped to reflect and share memories, insights and even some home-cooking tips from past Thanksgivings.
One ingredient with mysterious origins pops up in dishes across St. Augustine, Florida. In the early 1500s, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sailed his Spanish galleon through choppy coastal waters in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon was the first documented European to explore Florida’s northeast coast. In 1513 he traveled to a territory inhabited by Seminole Indians. After the Spanish settled what is now the city of St. Augustine, the oldest continuously-inhabited city of European origin in the United States, along came the French, English and free Africans. During that migration, at least one ship contained what has become St. Augustine’s favorite pepper: the datil.
In today’s crowded restaurant scene—where traditional favorites are joined by new dining venues almost constantly—it can feel like you’ll never get to every hotspot you want to check out. In such a market, it’s easy to imagine that chefs would foster a spirit of competition, thinking that somebody else’s restaurant has to fail in order for his or hers venture to succeed. Fortunately, in many communities and for many chefs, that is not the situation: Chefs often feed their creative souls through collaboration and cooperation which best shines through during special dining events that showcase the talents of all involved.
Dressing or stuffing? Pumpkin or sweet potato pie? Brine, baste, roast or deep-fry the bird? What you consider to be the “correct” answer to these and other culinary questions about our nation’s annual Thanksgiving feast depend largely on where you live.
If it’s possible to “lionize” a pig, no American cuisine does more to elevate the humble animal than Southern cooking. From North Carolina whole hog to Memphis ribs to St. Louis pork steak, Southerners love some swine!
The mere thought of chocolate can bring smiles. Cacao has been used to uplift the spirits of those lucky enough to get their hands on it since it was first discovered. These days, there’s great news for all chocolate lovers: Not only can chocolate satisfy sweet teeth, it’s chock full of antioxidants and other health benefits—let that fact quell any guilt you may feel about indulging in bars or truffles! To help ensure you’re never without a sweet treat—especially on vacation!—trust your taste buds to these 10 drool-worthy chocolatiers and chocolate-making tours across the U.S.A.