Southern food is not a single cuisine but many regional cuisines, says Rob Newton.
Raised in Arkansas and a veteran of NYC kitchens—including three restaurants of his own–he's now the chef of Gray & Dudley in Nashville, Tennessee. His compelling argument is that there are at least five distinct culinary regions in the American South.
None of them conform to the political map; instead they are shaped by geography, climate, and history, including the influences of immigrants who bring new ingredients and flavors.
If you want to stick to tried-and-true Southern classics, you'll find them here in the form of pimento cheese, braised collard greens, red-eye gravy, and pork hocks with hominy. But since you're choosing from the offerings of a contemporary chef, you'll find an abundance of fresh takes that use familiar ingredients in intriguing new ways. Turnip and potato pancakes with yogurt, dill, and dillybeans; spice-roasted cauliflower with peanut sauce; black-eye pea falafel with tomato and corn salad; blue crab and avocado tostadas; sweet potato and ricotta cheesecake with cornmeal crust.
There are many more smart ideas like that here. Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.