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The Real History of Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies delicious, iconically Southern, and no one seems to have a clue where they came from. Which isn't to say that people haven't tried to explain their origin. Plenty have. The problem is that no one has really tried hard enough. More

The Historic Problem With Hoppin' John

For a long time, if offered a plate of collards and Hoppin' John on New Years, I would have been inclined to say, "keep the change," for I never understood why anyone made a fuss over a mushy mound of rice and black-eyed peas. The problem: none of the ingredients used to make taste like they did when the dish was first invented. More

How Roux Made Its Way Into the Gumbo Pot

Gumbo in America evolved slowly over the course of three centuries, taking on new forms and variations as it went. And then, suddenly, in the 1980s, it was transformed almost overnight, and that transformation by all accounts was due to a single very influential chef. More

The Real Story of Gumbo, Okra, and Filé

Gumbo is closely associated with Louisiana and, more specifically, with Cajun cuisine, and for good reason. But it's actually far older than the Cajun presence in Louisiana, and historically, it has a much broader regional footprint. It's a prime example of how West African foodways took root in the Southern colonies and, over time, gave birth to some of the region's most iconic dishes. More

The Elements of Barbecue: The Case of Sauce

If there's any one thing that distinguishes the barbecue style of one region from another, it's the sauce that's used to finish the meat. It's also the single element that barbecue fans argue most passionately about—what ingredients should go in it, whether it should be poured over the meat while its being chopped or pulled or added later at the table, or even whether it should be used at all. More

The Elements of Barbecue: There's the Rub

Of all the elements of American barbecue, rubs and basting sauces are where pit masters differ the most from each other, even within the same regional style. Some use complex rubs; others don't. Some baste the meat while it cooks; others leave it completely alone. More

The Elements of Barbecue: What's in a Smoker?

The rich variety of American barbecue can be attributed to many factors—the kind of wood used, the types of meat selected, and the way that meat is seasoned, cooked, and served. But the differences between one regional style and another begins long before the brisket or pork shoulder ever encounters smoke and heat, and that's with the design and construction of the barbecue pit itself. More

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