What Makes the South "Southtastic"
You can travel all around the world and not find a place quite like the American South. The United States is such a large country that it's only natural that different sections develop their own particular identity – and the South is no exception. With specific rituals such as debutante balls, addressing everyone as "ma'am" or "sir" and having a different calibration than northerners for "spicy" food, the South is a very special part of the United States. What are some reasons that the South is so "Southastic"? How about:
1. The Food Is Unbelievable
Southern food at its finest is born from necessity and circumstance. Southern slaves who needed to create meals were forced to use the poorest cuts of pork , vegetables and grains. However, from these seemingly impossible circumstances, African-American cooks created masterful dishes such as collard greens, ham hock and black-eyed peas and grits. The notion of "soul food," food that feeds your soul, comes from a lengthy tradition of African-American cooks nourishing their families no matter the circumstances. Today, these foods are regularly sought after in restaurants for their depth of flavor – and also because it would take a home cook several hours to prepare the same dishes.
South Carolina, in particular, has its own Lowcountry cuisine, with a seafood heavy hand and nods to Cajun/Creole influences in New Orleans. The rich Atlantic plain of South Carolina provides a wide array of shrimp, crabs and oysters mixed with the South Carolina marshlands abundant rice production, leads to drool-worthy dishes. Shrimp and grits, red rice, Brunswick stew and baked mac and cheese are all plates that will leave any visitor pestering the cook for their recipe.
2. Manners, Ya'll!
Southern belles and gents have a different code of manners than many other regions of the US. A regional standard? Always call women "ma'am" and gentlemen "sir." Southern-raised folks know how to set a table, understand what utensils go for each course, employ proper table manners, always bring a hostess gift and even send thank-you notes. If someone is ill or has passed away, Southerners will bring the family a potluck meal to use or freeze, and they always send a card. What many other Americans consider "lost social graces" are still quite the norm in the South. Another reason why the South is "Southtastic!"
3. The Landscape Is Spectacular
Picture yourself walking through a Southern garden and it is likely dripping with magnolia blossoms, sweetgrass and honeysuckle. The South has the perfect ecosystem to grow plants, trees and flowers that need more sun and moisture than Northern plants. It also doesn't have the extreme heat of climates such as southern Florida, which would kill delicate blossoms. Look for South Carolina's version of the palm tree, the palmetto. You'll recognize it from the South Carolina state flag, where it's emblazoned on an indigo colored background next to a crescent symbol.
4. Sports Are the Common Bond
Want to find a way to a Southerner's heart? Ask them about their favorite sports team, either professional or college. Few area in the nation hold such a close bond to professional and collegiate sports as the South. Alumni who graduated from specific colleges will live and die by their team's wins, but many transplanted Southerners will also latch onto these teams because their community is rooted in the college's traditions. If you're from a town or city that doesn't share the same college sports fervor, you'll be surprised how all-encompassing collegiate sports are in the South!
Between sports, delicious food, outstanding hospitality and gorgeous surroundings, the South is truly a place where you can "find your happy" and feed your soul.