Pecans. This indigenous nut is a symbol of Southern pride and appears on menus much more often in this region than in the rest of the country, according to Datassential.
Sweet tea. Traditionally brewed tea with plenty of sugar mixed in before it’s chilled is a favorite throughout the South, but rarely seen elsewhere.
Other items that pop in this region: catfish, Key lime pie, crawfish.
Several sub regions and states in the South have a variety of their own distinct foods and styles.
Chesapeake Bay: Any restaurant opening in this area, which lies between the South Atlantic States of Maryland and Virginia, must understand crab cakes.
The Low Country: In the coastal area between Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., oyster roasts, she-crab soup, hoppin’ John, and shrimp and grits are among the specialties. The coastal area and islands of this region are influenced by the wealth of Savannah and Charleston, and by African and Caribbean flavors.
Louisiana: Jambalaya, gumbo, turtle soup and other distinctive specialties of this state evolved from the influences of seven "nations," according to local restaurateur, food manufacturer and historian John Folse. Native American, French, Spanish, German, African, English and Italian ties are represented in the foods here.
Texas and Oklahoma: Queso, the Spanish word for “cheese,” is commonplace on menus in the Tex-Mex heartland, where it usually refers to a cheese sauce or a dip, usually spicy, made of melted cheese and diced tomatoes.
Battered and fried, fried pickles are usually served as chips, but sometimes as spears. They are a favorite appetizer in much of the middle of the country, but they are a rarity in the Northeast, and are generally regarded with disdain west of the Rockies.
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