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What is the "Southern" equivalent of Italian-American "Baked Ziti"? Potato Salad?

We've had an interesting discussion of the prevalence of the dish "baked ziti" in the culture of Italian-Americans, predominantly in the east or northeastern U.S. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7228...

What is the Southern equivalent of the Italian-American standard "baked ziti," namely "so widespread a dish that you'll find it at virtually every family, church or social gathering in the South"?

I'm trying to figure out what that dish might be -- and not in terms of ingredients, but the prevalence of the dish. Originally, I was thinking of identifying the iconic "baked" dish, but I couldn't think of one single baked dish that is ubiquitous. So, I'm seeking the dish (baked or not) that is a cultural "marker" of social gatherings -- when you say to yourself, "this dish is everywhere I go" -- in the South. Maybe it is potato salad? Maybe it IS potato salad.

Your thoughts?

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    1. re: chefj

      macaroni and cheese is not really that pervasive, in my experience -- at least not home-made. and i don't personally know of people who would take kraft mac and cheese to a gathering.

      come to think of it, i am not being able to identify many "cheesy" southern dishes (esp. with "pasta."). the only pasta used in the south traditionally has been elbow macaroni -- and more often than not, that would be used in a soup, or the mac n cheese, or with some tomato gravy. rice is certainly much more pervasive. maybe i'm just having a mind block about "cheesy" dishes. there is pimento cheese, but i really wouldn't consider that a "dish."

    2. I don't know: after my father in law's funeral in exurban Atlanta some years ago, family callers brought over a lineup of "covered dishes", many of them lime jello salads with mayonnaise enhancements. Mac and cheese of course, too.

      25 Replies
      1. re: bob96

        There are so many things that you can find at almost every function in the "South" not only Jello molds but biscuits, Buttermilk or Chess pie, Fried chicken, Marinated Tomatoes and the list goes on. I was riffing off the pasta, but thinking more about the "baked" Cobbler would fit the bill from Maryland to Texas.

        1. re: chefj

          i haven't seen a jello mold in decades. biscuits are hardly at every function. nor is fried chicken, or tomatoes out of season. chess pie is hardly ever made anymore. cobblers aren't at every function, either.

          chefj, i'm sorry, but this list sounds like someone's caricature.

          maybe i'm wrong on fried chicken. i'm willing to be persuaded -- but i still think potato salad is more pervasive. (and y'all in the rest of the country would be shocked to learn that at most gatherings where fried chicken is a part of the line-up, it is likely to be from KFC.).

            1. re: atlantanative

              hmmm, squash casserole. that's a contender -- esp. if we stick to "baked" dishes.

              1. re: alkapal

                I love squash casserole and just fixed it a couple of days ago but no. Only in season and, of course, it has to be hot. I'm with you on potato salad, I guess. Maybe why it's the last thing I choose to eat. Too many gallons of it in my formative years.

            2. re: alkapal

              Con tutto rispetto, as soon as you ask for a "standard" anything, you're preparing for caricatures, since it becomes very difficult to generalize without them. Growing up in Italian Brooklyn, baked ziti was for us strictly a family dish, and only in winer, and maybe on a holiday Sunday. Social functions involving more than the family usually meant cold plates, too: salami, cheese, marinated salads, the classic antipasto table. But strange thing: at least in our nabe, Italians kept home cooked food within the family, and in my experience at least spent relatively little time eating in social gatherings that were not weddings, baptisms, or confirmations. Otherwise, food was usually catered in, even if only platters of cold cuts and salads or cookies and pastry. For what it's worth. Those lime jello dishes were indeed decades ago, in 1991.

              1. re: bob96

                molds. jello molds. i haven't seen jello molds in years.

                i'm not expecting caricature from actual southerners.

                1. re: bob96

                  my family was also like this. gatherings were an occasion for deli meats/etc. since so many social functions involved some sort of family, the cooking has to stop somewhere. no one was going to cook for extended-extended family.

                  1. re: bob96

                    the concept was not mine..... check the original post and its links...... that's where the baked zitii thing came up.

                    i'm working on identifying the southern equivalent.

                    garden & gun magazine is having a "southern food brackets" decision... for fun right now.

                  2. re: alkapal

                    As a Southern Belle, I make chess pie often. And I am ashamed to say I make jello based salads every now and then. Potato salad rules. KFC as a KY girl we ate it when it was wonderful. So we keep buying it.

                    1. re: Janet

                      i love chess pie. you have a lucky family! ;-).

                      (my background: born and reared in s.w. -- (gulf coast) -- florida, fort myers, where most of my immediate family still resides. mom was from marianna in the panhandle, relatives in atlanta, ga. and near and far in georgia nowadays, colonial heights, va., dothan, ala., tallahassee, fl., charleston, s.c., ocala, fl.. pensacola, fl.). mom's dad was from oklahoma. mom's mom was a native floridian, too. my dad was born in illinois, but his family moved to florida in the 1920's.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        I had chess pie once and it was just wonderful. It struck me as being like a pecan pie only without the pecans- any pie bakers out there to enlighten me?

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          i'd say it is more like a custard pie, not like a pecan pie, which is heavy on the corn syrup. it is sweet, though, which *is* like pecan pie. there is a more jelled (for lack of a better term) texture than the custard pie, though -- which i guess could be considered "like" pecan pie's texture. but the flavor isn't the same..

                          i don't think wiki is right that it is prepared like a pecan pie, without the pecans -- not the ones i've had. that wording is a little "squishy" too; what does it mean by saying it is "prepared like"? many pies are prepared "like" that, but that doesn't necessarily make them similar in flavor and texture.

                          this reminder of yours, EWSflash, made me look up a nice little lemon chess pie recipe -- perfect because i need to use up some lemons. in fact, i'm not even going to make a "pie," but use little custard cups. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

                          1. re: alkapal

                            You're right, it more custardy, but I love the crust with it. I'm pretty sure the pie has some cornmeal in it, and some recipes call for buttermilk. Your link looks like a good one, but it's not what I remember my grandmother baking. Have you tried it yet?

                            1. re: bayoucook

                              more like this one, and others I've seen that use buttermilk in the place of evap + vinegar - does this look familiar?


                              1. re: bayoucook

                                Have never made anything of this sort even though I've read about it since forever, must make.

                        2. re: alkapal

                          I moved here in 1970, thought I was almost a native.

                      2. re: alkapal

                        Sounds like a church picnic to me.
                        Potato salad is common all over the country nothing particularity southern about it.
                        You bring KFC to a social function? In the South? There would be lots of tongue wagging in my experience.

                        1. re: chefj

                          I've heard that the mayo/mustard, egg, potato salad is the southern potato salad and they others like honey mustard red potato salad(no egg) or potato salads that don't use mayo come from else where.

                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                            I do not think so. The only Mayo-less salads i know of hail from Europe. hard boiled Eggs and mustard are fairly typical ingredients all over the US.

                          2. re: chefj

                            I'm a preacher's kid from Oklahoma who has been to more church dinners than I can count, and of course KFC shows up at nearly every one. It's always brought by the young bachelors who would induce more tongue wagging if they brought something they made themselves.

                            1. re: JonParker

                              I can tell you that in rural Virginia and Maryland that Bachelors would not be bringing food.
                              KFC would have to come from a long way away and would not be received well.
                              People made things they were proud of and wanted to share(show off) to the community.

                              1. re: chefj

                                In my experience there were plenty of cooks who pulled the stops out for a potluck. But in the cities (some of them small, but cities nonetheless) where I grew up, there was almost always a bucket of the Colonel's finest, too. Tongues might have wagged a bit, but the chicken got eaten nevertheless...

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Been to church potlucks where the fare of the Colonel
                                    was arranged, to save space, in tight colonnade.

                                    And sometimes the recognized good of his coleslaw,
                                    but churchmarms ne'er dared bring his bad mashed potatoes.

                                    Though methinks that sometimes they sneaked in his gravy.

                                    And as answer to OP's query of American Ziti,
                                    It lies in the memory of each diner's soul
                                    Of soft summer weekends where we gathered and ate..
                                    many choices, each to all
                                    of the quintessential definitive American casserole.

                                    There's good things about the sauced cheesy Ziti
                                    but my American dish is based upon broccoli.

                                    Of course my confession of broccoli obsession
                                    Is supported by act of our Pres. Thomas Jefferson
                                    and his initial import of broccoli from Italy
                                    in his search for the finest agrarian ingredients
                                    so that our casseroles could compete with the Ziti.

                                    That said, if you want watch my mind warble,
                                    just mention the beauty of succotash.

                                    But it still would align with agrarian Jefferson,
                                    who grew not just broccoli
                                    but also lima beans and corn.

                      3. Fried chicken, especially if pan fried.

                        Yes, potato salad and jello molds and variations on mac and cheese also are popular, but you are just as likely to find them at a social in Minnesota as Mississippi. But nothing says deep south like fried chicken.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: Zeldog

                          Well, I can't say about current practices since I've lived away for 30 years, but our
                          Kansas/Missouri bred family usually brought fried chicken and either scalloped potatoes and/or Au Gratin potatoes to family functions. Noodles were either for spaghetti, mac & cheese, or a cold macaroni salad.
                          We always had tomato, Onion, and Cucumber salad too.
                          either creamed or in vinegar depending on the mood of the cook.
                          Missouri settler recipes. :)
                          and what of the 3 bean salad? Is that regional, or has it moved beyond?

                          1. re: bbqboy

                            hmm, i don't really think of missouri and kansas as the "south," though missouri is more so than kansas.

                            i thought this was an interesting take on what is the "south":
                            """Border South: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware were states on the outer rim of the Confederacy that did not secede from the United States but did have significant numbers of residents who joined the Confederate armed forces. Kentucky and Missouri had Confederate governments in exile and were represented in the Confederate Congress and Confederate battle flag. West Virginia was formed in 1863 after the western region broke away from Virginia, and fought off efforts of Virginia to recapture the region.
                            The popular definition of the "South" is more informal and is generally associated with those states that seceded during the Civil War to form the Confederate States of America. Those states share commonalities of history and culture that carry on to the present day.""""" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern...

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Believe me, a lot of Missouri folk consider themselves "Southern", much as Kentuckians and Marylanders do. Our family recipes handed down are definitely headed down that path.
                              (+my dad was from Texas :) )
                              These border areas, (southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio too), are more Southern in culture than geography. Tobacco fields and drying barns used to surround KC to the north, for instance.

                              1. re: bbqboy

                                yes, i guess that i think of missouri as more southern than anything "else," really. that is reinforced when i hear your senator speak. ;-).

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  As per your posts further upstream,do you think Southern traditional dishes aren't even surviving in the South?

                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                    bbq boy,

                                    sure, they survive, but the ones mentioned are not the one single "baked ziti" kind of dish that i'm looking for. they do show up with frequency, although i think convenience foods and -- on the other side -- health concerns have decreased how frequently such dishes are made and consumed.

                                2. re: bbqboy

                                  I don't know how many Marylanders consider themselves Southerners, being an ex-MDer myself.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    I am also from Maryland and there are many parts o the state that are very southern in culture not to mention that the most excepted deliniation of the north and south on the east coast is the Mason-Dixon line which fall between MD and PA.

                                    1. re: chefj

                                      When our family moved to Southern Maryland (St. Mary's County), I kept my two children home from school on Lincoln's birthday.

                                      Later that morning, I received a phone call from the school inquiring about my absent children. I replied "It's a holiday, today is Lincoln'd birthday!" and was told "Lincoln's birthday is NOT a holiday in MD!

                                      That's southern enough for me.

                                  2. re: bbqboy

                                    Since moving to Kansas after living my entire life in South Carolina, I have been informed by the locals that the Civil War started at the Kansas-Missouri border...and they may be right. Missouri was a slave state and was a part of the Civil War, so it is technically, if not widely thought of as, a southern state.

                                    The addition of Kansas as a state and the ensuing arguements and battles over whether it would be a "free state" or a "slave state" most certainly helped push our nation to war. The conflict is often referred to as "Bleeding Kansas," "Bloody Kansas," or simply "The Border War," and lasted from 1854 until the end of the Civil War as "Bushwackers" (pro-slave, confederate raiders from Missouri) clashed with "Jayhawkers" (abolitionist, pro-union groups that tried to establish a free state regime in Kansas and would raid Missouri).

                                    Much of the language from this period carries on. The KU mascot is the Jayhawk. There is a brewery in Lawrence called "Free State Brewery." The annual KU-Mizzou game is called "The Border War"...there's a lot of sentiment on both sides I'm sure, but I've been fed the Kansas version.

                                    That said, I think people in Kansas eat as much if not more fried chicken than people in South Carolina...My vote is either for Mac and Cheese (which, in my neck of the woods, was often served - homemade, not Kraft - at church and family functions) or pound cake. People in other places make pound cake, but no one else makes it as often, takes it as seriously, or has as many variations as southern women do.

                                    1. re: Antithesisofpop

                                      aaah, pound cake! hmm, that may be true, we southerners do revere our pound cakes.

                                      1. re: Antithesisofpop

                                        I would only disagree with your assessment
                                        that they think the war has ended. :)

                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                          Well, the great part is that until October of 2007, I had always been told that "The first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston Harbor at the battle of Fort Sumter." There's not much ongoing Civil War talk in central Kansas like there is in South Carolina - especially Charleston. However, I worked in Historic Preservation and am still somewhat active in those circles, and the resident history buffs were quick to inform me that Kansas was the cause of the Civil War and that the first shots/deaths/battles/etc. were in KANSAS.

                                          Everyone has their regional pride :)

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Perhaps I'm being too myopic in your use of "Southern" but I really do consider Chicken Fried Steak to be THE comfort dish of Texas.

                                    So to answer your query in another way, with my own qualifier, I think the "Texan" equivalent of Baked Ziti would be Chicken Fried Steak.

                                    Why? Because, as you say, Chicken Fried Steak is "so widespread a dish that you'll find it at virtually every family, church or social gathering in [Texas]"?



                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      As somebody who lived for a good number of years in Baja Oklahoma (and even longer in its neighbor to the north), I'd have to disagree. Chicken fried steak is, indeed, an iconic regional dish, but I'm not sure I ever saw it at a potluck dinner or church social I attended. It's at its best eaten immediately after being prepared; the dishes that do well at potlucks are those that can be held for a while.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        "Baja Oklahoma" ... sort of like New York's Trash Can.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            I'm with alan here. I've been to countless church dinners and never saw CFS served at one of them. It's a delightful regional specialty, but it needs to be served fresh.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                            Since I don't even consider Texas part of the South.... :) But ixnay on the CFS for the reason Alan says. Plus in Atlanta we had Country Fried Steak which was pan-fried and served with a brown pan gravy.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Yeah, I think "authentic" Chicken Fried Steak is a Plains State thing, with real steak and White gravy. The trouble with State lines is that they don't accurately describe the regional food lines.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                At most gatherings, I see mac & cheese, fried chicken, barbecue sandwiches, beans, and Tex Mex dishes, mostly tacos and fajitas. Alan may call this "Baja Oklahoma", but it really is extreme northern Mexico.

                                        1. I see cole slaw, deviled eggs and corn bread frequently at pot-lucks, cook outs, etc. I agree with the other mentions of fried chicken, potato salad and cucumber/tomato salad. Brunswick stew shows up a bit in some areas.

                                          I haven't seen much in the way of jello dishes in years. Layer cakes are seen less frequently than pies. Banana pudding is a popular portable dish.

                                          Interesting topic!

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            hi meatn3, i think i need to make some deviled eggs today; i have some older eggs that i need to use up! ;-).

                                            i also bought some bacon yesterday to fix some frozen field peas with snaps i just bought last week at harris teeter. i guess that means i need to make some corn pone!

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              If I start driving now I could be there for lunch!

                                              I picked up bacon the other day too - wanted to be ready for that perfect tomato to transform into a BLT!

                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                yes, but you my dear are in the heart of the country for the bestest smoked bbq pork in the world! we used to love driving through wilson at meal time, but have been disappointed in the more recent past (like two years ago), with food quality. i know there was a recent thread about bbq in that area.

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Next time you head this way check out Naco's posts. He finds great places east of I-95. I have high hopes for Blackbeard's, just haven't been able to time it right for a meal yet.

                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                    yes, on my profile page, i quote naco: "there is no bbq law." ;-).

                                            2. re: meatn3

                                              Here in the deep South, you always see potato salad, cole slaw, fried chicken, baked ham - have rarely seen mac and cheese, but pasta salads are popular. Banana pudding and cobblers always show up. In the summer, garden veggies take the stage (thank you God!) with pots of greens, green beans, corn on and off the cob; all sorts of things grown in the fertile soil. Also barbecue or baked chicken and casseroles of every sort. Where I was raised we had potluck dinners and dinners on the ground so often it makes me think - maybe foods aren't as dangerous as the experts say: we'd put the food together, go to service or social, and eat several hours later - never had or heard of a problem with it. Funny, huh?

                                              1. re: bayoucook

                                                If it were all that all-fired dangerous, there wouldn't be any humans on earth. Refrigeration is still a luxury in a lot of parts of the world and peole have survived without it since the dawn of time. Same with our family - the only time anyone got sick from eating was when my dad got hepatitis from a bad oyster at a firemen's social - he and about 50 other people.

                                            3. There are two things that are always on the table when we have large family meals or social events - deviled eggs and some kind of greens. Ham seems to show up much more often than fried chicken, I think b/c it's easier to cook ham for 20 people. Potato salad is pretty common, but depends on the time of year.

                                              The big issue you're going to run into with this thread is that the South is huge with a lot of cultural diversity and you trying to compare it to a single ethnic/cultural group, so you're not going to find just one dish.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                maybe country smokehouse ham is the cultural touchstone of the South.
                                                Is there a ham line, much like the deep fried pickle line?
                                                I always thought deviled eggs were universal. hmmmm.

                                              2. Well, this is easy: Scalloped Oysters. Seriously better than Baked Ziti, IMO, and all over the place in tthe South.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  I've never had them :( Sounds great.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    You've never had Scalloped Oysters? Holy crap! What part of the south are you from, girl? (And I use the term advisedly.)

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      Atlanta, girl :) I'm gonna come to see ya and 'spect some oysters and rabbit.

                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                    oysters are more prevalent in the coastal areas, obviously, but not so much inland, i think. further, unless you're near a local source, they are quite pricey (and sometimes even when you *are* close to the source!). so, for local "freshness" and ready availabilty, and cost-wise, i think scalloped oysters cannot be "it."

                                                    i've seen recipes for scalloped oysters in many of my community cookbooks from coastal areas, and -- despite being in a coastal area myself growing up (s.w. florida, gulf coast), and periodically these days -- i have never seen scalloped oysters at a gathering in s.w. florida, north florida, s.e. alabama, atlanta, or (even!) charleston (though my experience there is less than the other spots, by far). i'm certain that would be different if i lived in pensacola or gulfport, of course, where oysters are right there and plentiful.

                                                    interesting oyster trivia: ""While technically an animal, the oyster is considered by some ethicists to be an appropriate food choice for vegans and vegetarians, arguing it is acceptable to eat oysters, because in the relevant ethical terms they are rather closer to plants than animals.""" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      Same here - seen the recipe in regional cookbooks but have never come across them in real life!

                                                      Is this more of a Tidewater recipe perhaps?

                                                      I have the same situation with pickled shrimp - they just never appeared in any situation of an entire life in the South. Finally made some for the 4th and they will definitely be a part in the future!

                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                        i'm wondering whether the scalloped oyster kind of dishes were more popular when oysters were more plentiful -- and housewives had a surfeit of oysters that had to be used.

                                                        also, i wonder if it is more typical today (than in the past) the eating of oysters on the shell vs. in prepared dishes. i have oyster "fiends" in my family, and they just love 'em out of the shell, if they have their druthers.

                                                        finally, also, oysters used to be considered "seasonal" -- so even if you wanted them, you couldn't always get them.

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          alka -- I think you are right about this being a recipte to use up surplus oysters. Nowadays most oysters don't make it past the raw bar. Maybe a few make it into oyster stew and po-boys, but you don't see many casserole-type dishes using oysters.

                                                          Way back in the day, lobsters were considered cheap food too. They would just wash up on the beach. The Indians didn't even bother with them, from what I've read. Sigh.

                                                      2. re: alkapal

                                                        alka dear - I don't think a vegan would be too convinced of that if they got a fresh one and it winced like they do when you squirt lemon juice on it (could I have a dozen now please?).

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          ah, the "wincing oyster" scenario: the vegan's dilemma.

                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                          Read an article recently that when we bite into a raw oyster, that's when it dies! Yikes! Of course, that won't stop us....

                                                          1. re: bayoucook

                                                            i've never been an oyster fan, despite the hoggishness of close family members, give me shrimp, glorious shrimp!

                                                        1. My family is Italian, and I am originally from NJ so I know what you mean about ziti. (It's my mom's go-to dish when lots of people come over, or there's been a death).

                                                          Well, there's no doubt in my mind the Southern ziti is mac and cheese. I've lived in NC, SC, GA, and AL and it has been present at every potluck, picnic, family gathering, holiday meals, and it's the go to side dish at every BBQ and meat-and-three restaurant.

                                                          1. Yams. Baked yams.
                                                            Mashed and mixed with bourbon and butter, and baked again.
                                                            No dam marshmallows, either.

                                                            Course, I'm referencing Georgia here.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: ShepherdBGoode

                                                              Ooh, yes. My family would put pecans halves top.

                                                              1. re: ShepherdBGoode

                                                                We don't even mash and mix. Just bake, peeled, then slice. Serve with butter and salt. Good yams don't need marshmallows.

                                                                1. re: mpjmph

                                                                  that was my mom's favorite way to eat her beloved sweet potatoes: simply. she would just bake in foil, peel, smash a wee bit, add salt and eat with joy. when i visited, i'd often find half a baked potato with saran wrap in the fridge -- so i know she made them often. i'd only add a little butter, as she would sometimes, too.

                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                    I just bake sweet potatoes like other potatoes,split, butter, and eat.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Try real gorgonzola dolce instead of butter. Incredible!

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        OMG, you are evil. GD is hands down my favorite cheese.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          You don't need a lot, maybe 1 T cheese to lend its flavor and richness.

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            But two would be MORE flavorful and rich. Right????

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              Of course, but I try to restrain myself.

                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                        This born and bred southerner will not eat them any other way! Went to a local restaurant a couple of years ago and the potato came with brown sugar on the side. Just used the butter, love the taste of sweet potatoes.

                                                                        1. re: bayoucook

                                                                          Agreed! I wanna taste the tator ~~~ On very rare occasions however, I have been known to 'bust' open the tator and drizzle Steen's cane syrup on...Quite tasty for a change of pace.


                                                                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                            ...Best if that 'tater was roasted in coals.... : )

                                                                  1. My friend in Memphis was telling me about her Thanksgiving dinner once and said: "of course, deviled eggs and potato salad for the table". What? Of course? Those would only ever be served at a summer "salad meal" - the bane of my father's existence - where I come from (ON, Canada), and with fried chicken at my husband's home (IA). Never ever at Thanksgiving, Canadian or US. The South seems well lubricated - with mayo.

                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      We had Thanksgiving dinners for decades at various family members homes including our own, both sides of the family. Never any deviled eggs or potato salad. Definitely summertime food. Oh, no fried chicken either. That's crazy :)

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        The fried chicken is a summer meal in the IA family manse. Strict trad menu for T'giving, never fried chicken!!!

                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                        neither deviled eggs nor potato salad were on our thanksgiving table, though. deviled eggs typically appeared more at post-easter and summer get-togethers. and potato salad on a turkey day table was replaced by the cornbread dressing as the major starch.

                                                                        maybe deviled eggs would be there as appetizers, along with the relish tray.

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          We always have deviled eggs - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals, birthdays...

                                                                          1. re: mpjmph

                                                                            my problem with deviled eggs (can there be a problem with deviled eggs?!?!?) is that....
                                                                            i eat way too many and then don't have enough room for all the other goodies!

                                                                            i have to rethink my recollection of how we had deviled eggs at holidays. they wouldn't be "on" the table, typically, but would "be" there beforehand to snack on. they are always there for funeral meals.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              Deviled eggs...two bites and gone. Know what you mean.

                                                                              Deviled eggs liable to be on funeral tables in my neck of the woods too, alongside the sandwiches and cookies/squares. The ladies at my mom and dad's church made a huge spread of home-baked sweets for my mother's funeral lunch. It was lovely of them but when they wanted to box them up for us to take home, my father couldn't face having them in the house because of the association. Hope no one was offended. Weren't thinking politesse at the time.

                                                                              My friend is from the TN hills, maybe local? Maybe just a family thing? Where is John T. Edge when you need him - maybe he could draw a map of the deviled egg and tater salad zones?

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                oh gosh, imagine starting threads about the egg and tater zones. ;-).

                                                                                i think the deviled egg zone (eggs mimosa in france, right) would be huge. now, i'll be wondering which countries / cultures don't have some sort of cold boiled egg thingy.

                                                                                ps..."two" bites? you delicate thing you!

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  I think everywhere has potato salad, but what goes in it probably varies by
                                                                                  region. Green Olives, for instance....in or out?

                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                    I was trying to mind my manners. In the kitchen's a differnt thing.
                                                                                    Cold boiled eggs might be about the most universal food there is in non-veg societies, come to think of it. Had them at breakfast in manny countries, including Japan. The Chinese have hardboiled eggs shells crackled all over reboiled in tea - makes a nice looking pattern on them but I can take or leave them to eat. The deviled egg is a US/CAN thing mainly though? Do they have them in Britain?

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      HOLY SMOKES, there is a national deviled egg day -- and boy am i waiting with bated breath <well...not really, but i think my breath did catch a little bit, like when you see really good news and your eyes open wider. you know. like that.>***

                                                                                      november 2. save the date. http://blisstree.com/eat/happy-devile...

                                                                                      i thought of a creation that i'd love to eat: deviled eggs benedict. maybe using bearnaise. gyaaah, i want some now.

                                                                                      uk: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sea...
                                                                                      maybe the english don't make them because they remind them of the french. anyhow, the u.k. can take refuge eating scotch eggs.

                                                                                      *** not to be remiss, i have included for all you "bated breath" trivia lovers the following: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-b...

                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                        One of the things I love about you, dear. Bated indeed. As in a-bated. It warms the cockles of my little language stickler heart.

                                                                                    2. re: alkapal

                                                                                      "ps..."two" bites? you delicate thing you!"


                                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                                    My problem with deviled eggs is that they're eggs. It works out well though, I can usually barter my "share" of the eggs for something better.

                                                                                    My cousin's love of deviled eggs is very well known - at our grandmother's funeral lunch there was one egg left and no one would touch it until they checked with him. I'm not just talking close family either - extended family that hadn't spent time with him in 15+ years asked first.

                                                                                    On the other hand, we completely shocked the church ladies when the family drank all of the unsweetened tea and water but wouldn't touch the sweet stuff. It was quite a case study to see the behavioral impact of a family history of diabetes over a few generations.

                                                                              2. alkapal, I am not from the South but I have a book titled "Being Dead is No Excuse - The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral" by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. It provides a (sometimes) tongue and cheek guide to Southern entertaining at funerals....I'm sure some of the food is also present at other gatherings. It includes quite a few recipes. I have tried several of them with great success (though never for a funeral). One of the foods that seems to be popular is pimento cheese!

                                                                                1. Born in KY, raised in VA, TN & currently in NC for the last 25 years and in my experience Mac & cheese is more of a southern staple these days than potato salad--I think it's a mayo in the heat kinda thing. However, I think ham biscuits, steamed shrimp, deviled eggs, pimento cheese & banana pudding are also go to items in coastal Carolina.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: SweetPhyl

                                                                                    Yum -- that is my kind of menu!

                                                                                  2. I think a lot of people have hit the nail on the head with deviled eggs, southern style potato salad, mac n cheese etc.. Some that haven't been mentioned

                                                                                    Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
                                                                                    Baked Beans
                                                                                    Corn Fritters

                                                                                    and for dessert Banana Pudding

                                                                                    22 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                      I assume you mean the Nilla wafer kind ! (- 8

                                                                                      1. re: chefj

                                                                                        yes I meant the vanilla wafer kind. :P

                                                                                      2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                        we're looking for the single "iconic" gathering food. maybe there isn't just one?

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          there isn't just one. It would depend on heritage and how and where you grew up.

                                                                                          I have friends that would say for them it would be

                                                                                          Tuna Noodle Casserole
                                                                                          Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (based on heritage)
                                                                                          Black Eyed Peas and Fried Okra

                                                                                          The German side of the family has passed down a recipe for potato dumplings that has caraway seed in them, while no one outside of our family ... as far as I know, would think of such things, it was a common staple at every family gathering. From thanksgivings, to funerals.

                                                                                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                            tuna noodle casserole? puerto rican rice and beans? nah. those aren't "southern" foods. rice and beans is a popular dish throughout the south, though with different kinds of beans all over.

                                                                                            maybe black eyed peas, but not fried okra (because it is not always in season, although i guess you could thaw it from the freezer). fried okra has to be eaten hot from the skillet, and that isn't the common situation at most social gatherings where food is offered to a larger group, is it?

                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                              Southern as in Florida, yes for people living here puerto rican rice and beans reminds them of their childhood and is often seen at get togethers between family and friends.

                                                                                              The person that said tuna noodle is from the midwest. but she says there were potato chip crumbles on top? I don't think I've ever had that.

                                                                                              What I was getting at is that some southerns have different heritages and so for some things are different.

                                                                                              oh and yes fried okra I have seen done, you can put a cast iron skillet on a grill and get it hot enough.

                                                                                              Also more of a breakfast gathering one dish would be fried potatoes. cut like think potato chips and fried with half oil / half butter.

                                                                                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                puerto rican food in florida is not what i call "southern" in the traditional sense. i understand your point, but your point is not the subject of this thread. it would be the subject if the question were "what foods remind you of home if you live in a southern state."

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                  Excuse me,

                                                                                                  but my point Is the subject of this thread because YOU asked for people's thoughts on the matter and that IS my thought.

                                                                                            2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                              One of my now-deceased relatives used to make a noodle pudding with caraway seeds. She was from Austria. I don't think I'll be seeing that dish ever again, but I loved that unusual flavor.

                                                                                              1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                Maybe we are related :P my maiden name starts with a W.

                                                                                            3. re: alkapal

                                                                                              Southern encompasses to many ethnic groups and areas to arrive at a single dish.
                                                                                              The post that you riffed off of was much more specific. If you would have asked, What is the one dish for the Northeast?, you would never reach a consensus.
                                                                                              Just like in this thread you would have a hard time even establishing what the Northeasts boundaries are, much less a dish that is omni present regardless of ethnic background or more local oddities.

                                                                                              1. re: chefj

                                                                                                9 Nations of North American Food?
                                                                                                Part of the fun of CH is the friction along the border regions.
                                                                                                I'm here 20 miles from the Cornucopia that is California, but get to frolic with
                                                                                                Eskimos according to our defined boards. :)

                                                                                                1. re: chefj

                                                                                                  i'd say southern culture is a somewhat defined thing, so that generalizations may be made. there are not that many ethnic groups making up the traditional "south."

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    Really? What is the definition of traditional Southern Culture?

                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        well, OK. I knew that.
                                                                                                        I kinda wanted to hear what you thought, in your words.

                                                                                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                          i am a southerner, and a student of culture. my thoughts on this would be long and complex. i don't have the energy or the inclination to write (even a small) treatise on southern culture on chowhound.

                                                                                                          but thanks for asking, anyway.

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            well. OK. But you STARTED the topic.
                                                                                                            I wondered where traditional left off and current started. Never mind.

                                                                                                      2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        I'm also a Southerner and a student of culture, and I completely disagree. Yes, there are some commonalities across the South, but the culture and traditions I grew up in Northeastern NC are as different from the traditions of Western NC as they are from New England.

                                                                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                                          >>""Northeastern NC are as different from the traditions of Western NC as they are from New England.""<<<

                                                                                                          hmm, how does new england compare with western north carolina on the subjects of black eyed peas, cornbread, okra, and pork?

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            Talk about the narcissism of small differences. How could they possibly be that different given the completely different terrain, coastline, etc between NC northeast or west and New England?

                                                                                                2. Grew up just over the Ohio River from WV, family has many roots there (forgotten border state btw, nobody ever remembers poor WV) and it seems to me that no occasion is complete w/out Ambrosia Salad. What do y'all true Southerners think?

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: mlipps

                                                                                                    Still? The last time I saw that ...ahem...salad...was the 70's.

                                                                                                    However , my Mom still makes "ambrosia", which is simply a very time consuming glass bowl of supremed oranges and grapefruit, fresh pineapple and some shredded coconut. Only for Christmas, though. (upstate SC)

                                                                                                    my vote is pound cake, followed by sweet potato "souffle"

                                                                                                    1. re: mlipps

                                                                                                      This true Southener remembers it well now that you remind me. We used to make huge bowlfulls of it and eat it at all times during the day and night. Lord, I may have to make some this weekend!haha

                                                                                                    2. I would say mayo-based macaroni salad enriched with hardboiled eggs, or rice and gravy, or glazed sweet potatoes...but probably mac salad comes closest without being mac and cheese itself.

                                                                                                      1. Something else that came to mind was macaroni pie, which has Caribbean/Creole roots and isn't mac and cheese but is a baked pasta that President Jefferson served - but I really do think it's mac salad.

                                                                                                        1. I haven't ever posted here before (longtime lurker) but for some reason I was motivated to put my two cents in here. Greetings all!

                                                                                                          My Southern cred: all my family is from East Tennessee and I've never lived north of Atlanta.

                                                                                                          I propose that along with the various regional/ethnic differences across the geographical "South," there is also a rural vs. urban dichotomy.

                                                                                                          In East Tennessee, which is still very rural, you would rarely bring any meat-based dish (read: fried chicken) to a church dinner, funeral, or covered dish. It's too expensive - you'd save that for your own special family meal. Potato salad, coleslaw, and deviled eggs were and are huge for these types of gatherings, as are casseroles and jello salads (not so much molds - too fancy - just layered in a Pyrex). And we never had rice in any variation - potatoes rule the carb contingent!

                                                                                                          1. One that I don't think has been mentioned- congo squares.

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                Sort of a blonde brownie- brown sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate chips baked and cut like brownies.

                                                                                                                1. re: Naco

                                                                                                                  As far as I know, Congo Bars means a blondie with chocolate chips and coconut - that's why the tropical connotation.

                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                    you know, despite me loving all the components of congo bars, i have never gotten on board with them. crazy, i know.

                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                      I can't say I recall coconut in a Congo square. Maybe people go short on that element. I'll check some old cookbooks.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Naco

                                                                                                                        hmmm, well maybe i'm thinking of another bar cookie thing. but i always thought congo squares had coconut. maybe i'm off base.

                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                  That does like fun. Unfortunately, I don't have a Feisbuq page.

                                                                                                                  Extending the bracket metaphor a bit, who is Dook in this context?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Naco

                                                                                                                    mmm, you got me there (because i don't know what that means). i can say that i didn't like some of the match-ups in the brackets, because they were not similar kinds of foods. like pitting fried chicken against deviled eggs. that's just un-american!

                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                      You know, the University of New Jersey at Durham. Dook.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Naco

                                                                                                                        yes, i figured it was duke, but i guess there is a secondary meaning in the context of march madness basketball brackets. they're favored to win, is that it?

                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                          what about squash casserole?(sorry if already mentioned)

                                                                                                                2. In my extensive experience with church, family and social gatherings in the South, the one thing you will find at every single one is some kind of casserole featuring Campbell's cream of mushroom soup as a key ingredient.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                    hey, i cannot foreswear campbell's mushroom soup! i have a great eggplant casserole with it and some ritz crackers and cheddar cheese. it ain't high-falutin', but dang i can eat it for three days straight.

                                                                                                                  2. Deviled eggs.

                                                                                                                    That is all.

                                                                                                                    1. There's the south and there's the south...in the way VT cooking differs from Maine cooking though they're both New England! Meatn3 hit it pretty much dead on for me. Fried cornbreads, biscuits, biscuits, biscuits. Lots of great fruit cobblers. Oh, and pimento cheese. My aunties must have had that stuff by the gallons.

                                                                                                                      1. I was raised in Georgia but have lived in New York for 30 years. At Christmas and Thanksgiving I make a big bowl of ambrosia (orange sections, crushed pineapple, and coconut) and a tomato aspic mold (sometimes with shrimp or crabmeat) with homemade mayonnaise. These dishes offset the richness of the other holiday foods. Also, I roast a pork tenderloin rather than turkey. Usual turkey sides work well with the pork.

                                                                                                                        1. question: deviled eggs aren't peculiarly southern, are they? after all, the french have their eggs mimosa.

                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                            Have lived in Lee County since 1970 but, when I was a kid on Long Island, My job was to peel the eggs for deviled eggs and eventually I got to make them too. My mom made them for special occasions like New Years Eve. So, nope, Long Island isn't Southern.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                              Well, I live in the South and I've had baked ziti here. Does that make it not Italian-American?

                                                                                                                              I'm not sure you are ever going to find the quintessential Southern dish given that there are so many differing regions to the "South". What is common in Louisiana differs from what is common in TN, to what is common in KY, to what is common in AL, and so on and so forth. Certainly you are not going to find consensus on the subject.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                we're having a conversation. we're learning about the food people ate.

                                                                                                                                i'm quite aware of different regions in the south. but my original question in the OP is still a valid question.

                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                  Fo' Sho' it is, alka!
                                                                                                                                  It just occurred to me, reading Leepa's post: when I was in Louisiana, which has a huge Italian-American community, I ate a LOT of baked ziti, so the equivalent, at least in the region I was in, was.........baked ziti. : )

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                    funny! did they make it with okra? ;-).

                                                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                    I have a good friend from east Tennessee (proudly self-described as an east TN hillbilly) who lived in Memphis for years and now lives near Oxford, MS who said they always always had deviled eggs at "do's" and at occasion meals (it came up when we were discussing Thanksgiving and she said "and deviled eggs, of course" - of course???) - but they are common in the parts of the Midwest I'm familiar with ( IA and IL) too, at least in M's family (they did spend a few years in San Antonio, which I know is TX and not South south, but my MIL's cooking shades that way as much as it does midwestern to this day).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                      well, maybe it is deviled eggs, even though they are not particularly -- or rather "peculiarly" -- "southern." the wonderful thing about them is their versatility in fillings and toppings. right now, i'm thinking i'd like a DE with smoked salmon, very finely minced red onion and three -- count 'em -- three capers.

                                                                                                                                      i just saw an earlier post of mine from july where i was wanting some deviled eggs with bearnaise. HA!

                                                                                                                                      i think that i could eat my weight in deviled eggs -- which means that i should invest in large-scale purdue chicken farm operations. but now, really, i only use organic eggs.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                        I'm not crazy about them but they are irresistible. Crazy, right?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          I used to do cold cut platters for the regular Wednesday ToastMaster's Meetings at a local resto., and the deviled eggs were invariably the first thing to be decimated.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                            Something about the slipperiness of the white against the creaminess of the filling. Want want.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              When I'm ultra-lazy, which happens a lot, and hungry, which also happens a lot, I've been known to go to the local deli, buy two deviled eggs (four big halves) and smash them right onto bread for a sandwich.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                that IS lazy. i mean.. you gotta get up and go to the deli to get the eggs. poor thing... i guess you got the craving, huh?

                                                                                                                                                your comment about being hungry a lot reminds me of a quip made by a acquaintance once:

                                                                                                                                                i said: "hey let's have dinner sometime."
                                                                                                                                                she said, "well, we eat every day."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                  That was my breakfast this morning. I failed at making 2 deviled eggs trying a jagged cut that made them look like hatching chicks (pimento green olives for eyes and red bell pepper for beak, methinks we've all seen this kitchy recipe for Easter), but dang, the were awesome mushed on a crusty slice of sourdough!

                                                                                                                                  3. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                    For another thread, I researched aka googled :) and discovered that deviled eggs originated in Ancient Rome. So, no, not Southern at all.

                                                                                                                                  4. Northerners do not bring potato salad to a picnic?

                                                                                                                                    Is baked ziti brought as a side dish?

                                                                                                                                    Jello molds? Maybe block party circa 1973. That was just the South? No. I saw it plenty in CA. Ditto that for tater salad.

                                                                                                                                    All northerners bring ziti or is it just Italians?

                                                                                                                                    I have noticed PNWers like their potato salad too. They still call grilling "Barbequeing". Maddening weirdos.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                      A term which is definitely regional. We always explain to transplants that inviting the neighbors over for a barbecue in the South (particularly in NC), leads to expectations of smoked pig. A cook out is burgers or other grilled meats.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                        Actually, no Italians or Italian-Americans that I know would bring baked ziti. And we definitely need more dogs like the one pictured both up and down the Eastern seaboard.

                                                                                                                                      2. If not som version of slaw, then Brunswick Stew and Hushpuppies