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Uniquely Georgia Cuisine?

  • j

Hey all,

I'm here in Georgia for about another week, and am just wondering if there is anything we can find here that is unique and authentic to just Georgia, or the the general southeast. We're in the Lawrenceville area, and don't mind travelling to downtown Atlanta.
My husband and I live in Montreal, so we generally can enjoy any kind of cuisine, so suggestions for Italian or French isn't exactly what we're looking for, unless you are sure that they are extremely special or great.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. My first thought for a uniquely local dish is shrimp and grits. Quite a few upscale restaurants offer this. Try one that offers Georgia Wild Caught Shrimp. There is sort of an ongoing effort in Georgia to push local shrimp over the asian imports. A nicer restaurrant will know what you mean if you ask about this.

    Another Georgia coastal dish is a Crispy Scored Flounder, It's a whole flounder scored and then fried, and it turns out quite good. Flounder is a locally caught fish and its in season right now.

    A traditional dessert is a red velvet cake, but it's really just choclate layer cake with red food color and cream cheese icing. Another is peach cobbler, which is very very good.

    Fried catfish (I like the little ones) and fried okra are popular. No one in Georgia ever served fried green tomatoes until that movie came out. That dish is a pretender in Georgia.

    Georgia has three types of Bar B Que in my opinion (but always pork), South Georgia, which I like the best, has more of a ketchup based sauce and wood smoke, and is traditionally accompanied by Brunswick Stew. North Georgia has a vinegar based sauce and is not at all smokey (which I don't like, sometimes they use goat instead of pork.) Middle Georgia is more like Carolina Style, sort of an inbetween sauce and side dishes that are put on rice that look interesting but have little flavor. BBQ is largely a personal preference and I am sure they're are plenty who will disagree with me.

    8 Replies
    1. re: sarge

      Carolina BBQ is not served over rice, and it has massive amounts of flavor. And, of course, you gotta go to the Triad area of NC to enjoy it, unless you have the backyard BBQ skills to pull it off yourself.

      And I was under the distinct impression that shrimp and grits originally hails from the Charleston, SC area. I do know that the 2 lbs. of shrimp I bought on Tybee Island and grilled at the rental house a few yeasr ago were easily the best shrimp I've ever eaten. Amazing. And such a simple thing to just skewer them and throw them on the grill, then dip them in a little butter. Sweet as sugar. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

      As for the OP, I am curious to see if anybody can suggest any foods that are uniquely Georgian. I'm not aware of any. But I gotta get to Watershed sometime soon, if that fried chicken is as good as I hear.

      1. re: uptown jimmy

        I was thinking about the Other Carolina, and that dish they call hash on rice, is about as exciting as matzoh with tofu spread.

        I don't know the exact origin of shrimp and grits, but it's safe to say it originated somewher between Wilmington NC and Jacksonville FL

        1. re: sarge

          thank for all the suggestions! we'll go try watershed, and it sounds like we should just go and fish some shrimps ourselves.

          are there any good "bring your own alcohol" places?

          1. re: sarge

            A low-country cookbook author, who goes by the name of Hoppin John Martin, wrote that shrimp and grits originated in the Low Country (Charleston SC to Savannah GA) area and was originally called Breakfast Shrimp.

          2. re: uptown jimmy

            Brunswick stew is uniquely Georgian. Grilled Vidalia onions, too. And don't forget that Stuckey's pecan log.

            1. re: Big Daddy

              Brunswick Stew is not uniquely Georgian - there are versions in both North Carolina and Virginia. However, the Brunswick Stew typically made in Georigia is uniquely Georgian. It is different from the other versions. Georgia's Brunswick Stew is typically made with barbecued pork and tomatoes and corn (and other stuff). The Virginia recipe originally was made from squirrel and rabbit; the North Carolina version is typically made from chicken.

          3. re: sarge

            Have to agree with jimmy - neither shrimp & grits or BBQ are "traditional" Georgia dishes. It's also really difficult to call any one type of BBQ "Carolina style", since between NC and SC there are several distinct styles.

            That flounder dish might be a Georgia thing, though. Never heard of it but it sounds yummy.

            1. re: sarge

              "No one in Georgia ever served fried green tomatoes until that movie came out. That dish is a pretender in Georgia."

              Not true. Fried green tomatoes have been around Georgia for as long as I can remember. My Georgia family served them long before the Fried Green Tomato book and movie came out. I especially remember them in the autumn as a way to use up the green tomatoes at the end of the growing season.

              It is true that lots of Southern restaurants added them to their menu after the movie popularized fried green tomatoes.

            2. Go to Watershed in decatur. You won't be disappointed- the guy's a beard award winner and is truely southern with an upscale take. http://www.watershedrestaurant.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: charlottecooks

                i noticed a starter on the watershed dinner menu: selection of southern cheeses. what are the cheeses, do you know?

              2. I hate to say this but the first thing that came to mind that is distinctly Georgia is Atlanta and to me that is a good ole' Coca-cola and cheeseburger at The Varsity. or a chili cheese dog and frosted orange.

                1 Reply
                1. re: BlueHerons

                  I thought about suggesting the V, but in reality the V is just greasy garbage food. It's all about the experience, not the food. Go to the Varsity and order an FO (frosted Orange) and sit back and watch.

                2. Chicken mull, which you can get in and around Athens (about a 30-mile radius) at a few places, is absolutely unique to Georgia.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: hillarybrown

                    What is chicken mull? I've never heard this.

                    1. re: AmyWatts

                      Its a type of chicken stew indigenous to NE Georgia. Here's a description from the "New Georgia Encyclopedia":

                      "The dish known in northeast Georgia as chicken mull is a stew of chicken meat (ground or cut into bite-sized or smaller pieces), broth, milk, butter, vegetables, and seasonings, thickened with crumbs of soda crackers. It is also called chicken stew, chicken soup (rarely), and in south Georgia, chicken jallop. Because grinding, cutting, and lengthy cooking can tenderize tough meat, chicken mull may have originated as a way to make tough old roosters and spent hens palatable."

                      1. re: carolinadawg

                        Yep. Dudes at churches make it and sell it, in church bbq fashion. In the Athens area, you can get it at the Georgia Center cafe, Bill's BBQ (in Hull), Gateway Cafe, and, I think, Hot Thomas BBQ in Oconee County. The BBQ places have it every day; the other two just one day a week. It's good with hot sauce.

                    2. re: hillarybrown

                      Goat mull is good too. Not sure if it's unique to Georgia but definitely remembered eating more goat mull than chicken mull as a kid. Not even sure where to get it around Athens any more.

                      1. re: Dax

                        Wow, Dax. Great stuff. Goat mull and chicken mull. Good lord. Beautiful.

                        I never heard of such. I would love to try some goat or chicken mull right the freak now. Get in my belly!

                        Be proud of your memories and your roots. It's so cool that you have experience of such things.

                        I love my food/culture memories. I swear by them.

                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                          uptown jimmy: thank you! i love your enthusiasm! "get in my belly!" LOL

                    3. brunswick stew, for sure. i can't think of anything else that's specifically georgia, most things are more 'regional.'
                      for some good and authentic southern cuisine, head up to athens and try weaver d's (specifically their ridiculously good sweet potato souffle)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: sarahew1

                        Actually, Brunswick Stew was originated in, and is named after, Brunswick, Virginia.

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          Brunswick stew and chicken mull are both very common here in eastern NC.

                          1. re: Naco

                            Yes, I'm well aware of that. I was merely pointing out their place of origin, not attempting to define their current geographic distribution.

                          2. re: carolinadawg

                            you can get in to a fist fight w/ some of those nice folks down in Brunswick, GA w/ that claim.