I’m not a southern girl, but yet I am. I was born and raised in central Illinois and that’s not the south. I did spend a few summers in Alabama when I was a kid, but that doesn’t really count, does it? I went to college at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. That’s almost south…but sort of a storybook south. The area is known as Little Egypt, partly because of the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, but it is a unique place and I’ve many fond memories of the area. But really I think of myself as a southern girl because of my love of southern rock, southern food, and my ability to nap on really hot, humid days.
Some southern food traditions are difficult to find outside the south, like the “meat and three” style of restaurant that gives you the choice of a meat plus three sides…fried chicken with black eye peas, green beans, and cole slaw would be my favorite. In the south there isn’t a big tradition of baking with yeast and I assume that’s because of the heat and humidity. Quick breads like cornbread and biscuits replace raised bread and are included with most meals as is that big glass of iced sweet tea.
Another food tradition in the south is the fritter. I love fritters because they are a natural for cleaning out the refrigerator and because almost anything tastes better if it’s fried. These fritters were green onions, cooked spinach (squeezed all the spinach juice out and chopped), sushi rice, grated cheese, cooked shrimps chopped into chunks, egg and flour. The only thing to remember when creating fritters is to chop all the ingredients into similar sized chunks. In this case the green onions were the most plentiful ingredient so they determined the size of the shrimp and spinach chunks. Make sure to use about a 1/2 egg per person, so in my case I was making fritters for four so I used 2 eggs. The amount of flour to add is determined by whether or not you have other ingredients that will bind; I had cheese and rice so I probably only used 2 tablespoons of flour. Always start with less flour because it’s easier to add it than to fix a fritter that is too heavy. Also make sure your oil is at least 350° before you fry them up. I pan fry mine in a cast-iron skillet.
I suggest listening to some Allman Brothers while cooking them up and make sure there’s a bottle of Crystal Hot Sauce on the table. They were oniony and shrimpy and so tasty with a cold glass of white… I think I’ll be making more fritters this summer.
Visit What Geeks Eat… to check out the BBQ chicken I made and a tasty riff on eggs Florentine.