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10 Signs You Learned to Eat in Alabama

by Scott Summers Mar 23, 2017

1. You know that everything — everything — can be fried.

Think of any food. Got one? Someone in Alabama has tried to deep fry it. Doesn’t matter what it is. Ice cream, spinach, onions. And they were probably successful, too, whether it tasted great or not. (It probably did.)

A deep fryer has a home in any southern kitchen, and Alabama is no exception. Alabamians can be a little trigger happy with the frying, though, because it’s easy and it instantly makes anything taste a little more like home.

2. You know that soul food is the best thing . . . but only for your soul.

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In Alabama, you’re in soul food country. That’s slang for, “We’re going to use a ton of fats, oils, grease, and salt to add a lot of flavor to your meal.”

That’s the whole point, after all: the taste. Make no mistake, soul food isn’t the healthiest form of nutrition.

3. You know that fresh seafood is the best seafood.

The Gulf of Mexico is literally a day trip away, at most. While you’re not going fish out your own meal every day (though you might be tempted), most major restaurants specializing in seafood get a fresh catch every day or two. After you’ve had it for a while, there’s no going back to store-bought shrimp and frozen fish in a box.

4. You know that the secret to southern barbecue isn’t just in the sauce.

Alabama has its own barbecue style, but it also shares the road with other major staples from Memphis, Texas, and the Carolinas. Alabamians like all types of sauce, and meat smoked on all types of wood, cooked in a pit or on a grill. The combination of meat, sauce, and meal is where it gets tricky. Traditionally, Alabama barbecue is on the meatier side (think pulled pork over barbecued chicken), and the Alabama white sauce is a mayo-vinegar mix for a little extra tang.

Throw in a little slaw and some potatoes on the side, and Alabamians are likely to call that some fine fixins.

5. You know that dinner is just a primer for supper.

Breakfast in Alabama is often hearty, but dinner is a flyover meal. It’s a little snack to tide you over for the helping of home-cooking coming your way after a hard day’s work. It’s not a banquet or a feast every night, of course, but you’re definitely craving a good meal at the dining table. Just remember to turn on the game so everyone can listen to the score.

6. You know the true value of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

In general, Alabamians look at all-you-can-eat buffets and bottomless bowls as a challenge, rather than an opportunity. Don’t feel like cooking for 30 people at the family reunion? Take everybody out to your favorite buffet places and let them handle the load. Honestly, when you factor in time and effort, a buffet is a hell of a savings — especially when half of everybody is headed back for their third plate.

7. You know that there’s only one way to eat ice cream: with speed.

Really, you have no options. It’s not just hot — it’s Alabama hot. There are bugs. The ice cream is melting by the time you get it from the ice cream truck, the corner store, or the concession stand at the game. Just take a quick breath, ignore the brain freeze, and start on the cone.

8. You know that boiled peanuts are second only to a winning touchdown.

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Baseball may still be considered America’s favorite pastime in some (small, shrinking) circles, but in Alabama, it’s football. And what mixes well with the taste of sweet victory?

Boiled peanuts.

9. You know that some meals are homemade from start to finish.

Whatever your position on hunting, most Alabamian hunters are pretty respectful of their kills. Respect for the animal, and for that life, are pretty big on the seasonal hunting priority list. Alabamians try not to be wasteful in this regard, which means fresh venison for friends, family, and any other interested party is abundant during hunting season.

Of course, in Alabama, food in abundance is just another invitation for the family to help you eat it. And, as discussed, we very much enjoy a good barbecue.

10. You know that grits aren’t as bad as everyone wants to believe.

Most of the time, grits get a bad reputation from the insta-grits you see in the store. You know the kind: add water, microwave for a minute, throw immediately into the garbage. That stuff.

Homemade grits are a different thing. Ingredients include milk, butter, a little salt and, of course, the grits themselves. You can liven it up a little by using the grits as a base for more complex meals. Throw in some shrimp, wild mushroom, or poached egg. Some people lace their grits with sausage or put it on waffles.

At the end of the day, grits can stand alone or be part of the meal. The haters are just doing it wrong.

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