Tuesday’s Top 10: Things I Love About the South

Maile and I spent the last two weeks with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina. Every time we come down here I’m reminded that there is still a North/South divide – not because they’re still openly planning a revolt against the North (that’s mostly still done in secret), but because things seem so different.  Here are 10 things I love about the South:

1) Sweet Iced Tea – this sugar/caffeine combination is jet fuel for the human tank.  But if you order iced tea in the South, don’t ask if it’s sweetened.  I did this once, and the lady behind the counter looked at me like I was an escapee from the local asylum and began feeling for the under-the-counter alarm button. In their mind, all tea is sweet. I love this about the South.

2) Pulled Pork Sandwiches – I still haven’t figured out what about it is pulled, but it’s delicious.  My wife likes to pile on the cole slaw, which I think is disgusting, but she’s got southern blood in her.

3) The Local Spots – Maile and I grabbed breakfast at a little place in Belmont, NC the other morning.  The waiter came to the table and asked us what we wanted.  “Um,” Maile said slowly, “can we get a menu?” I let her do the talking – she speaks better Southern than I do.

The waiter looked at us in confusion.  “You’ve never been here before?”  We both shook our heads.  He shook his head in sympathy, pulled up a chair, and sat down at the end of our booth.  “We’ve got french toast or pancakes or gravy and biscuits.  Most people that order eggs get toast and grits and choose either bacon or sausage.” Maile and I still looked at him.  Then we realized – they didn’t have menus.  What a great idea – just order what you want.

4) They know each other – when we were eating breakfast at that place in Belmont, you could tell that everyone knew everyone else.  The waiter asked every single person that walked in if they wanted their usual – or sometimes he brought out food without them even ordering!

5) They love the heat – unlike in the North, where we complain about the cold EVERY SINGLE WINTER (c’mon folks, you know it’s coming – either move or learn to love it), they say they love the heat.  Do they really love the heat? I don’t know.  But everyone says they do.  And anyone who dares to even barely dislike the heat still qualifies their disdain: “It’s hardly ever this hot,” they say.  “Maybe one week out of the year it’s this hot.” Now, I know it’s hot most of the summer, but I like that they try to convince themselves that’s not true so that they can live in happiness.

6) Smiling people, even in the city – ever try saying hello to some random person on the sidewalk in Philadelphia? Of course not.  If you did, you probably wouldn’t be around to read this blog.  Ever try it in the South? Be prepared for a warm greeting in return.  And perhaps even a lengthy conversation – which might seem a bit unsettling to you Northerners.

7) Bridges Barbeque

8) Hush Puppies

9) Swimming Pools – they are everywhere.

10) The dirt is red.  I don’t know why I like this, but it seems kind of cool.

So what do you love about the South?

12 Replies to “Tuesday’s Top 10: Things I Love About the South”

  1. In addition to all the things you listed, I love that a salad can be something made from marshmallows and pistachio pudding. I don’t eat it, but I still love that it’s salad.

  2. I always said I wanted to live in the south for exactly (most of) the reasons you’ve listed. The closest I get up here in New England is a visit to Cracker Barrel. (Oh, and “pulled” pork refers to how they get it off the bones – usually with a forkish thing that gives it that shredded quality allowing for maximum sauce saturation. Mmmm…now I want to go find me some BBQ.)

  3. first of all, north carolina is not the south. just so that’s said. now for a few additions:

    11. fried anything-you’d-be-willing-to-eat
    12. boiled peanuts (i don’t even like them, but they remind me of home)
    13. entire restaurants devoted to chicken fingers
    14. local restaurants with the “menu” on a chalkboard
    15. sawmill gravy on biscuits
    16. grits
    17. the national peanut festival in dothan, alabama

    1. I was wondering when the south-ability of North Carolina would be questioned. I don’t have a horse in the race, though, and I don’t plan on getting in the middle of that one.

    2. I agree… Definitely the National Peanut Festival. I gre up in Dothan, AL and I feel you have not truly experienced the South until you have been to The National Peanut Festival.

      JamesBrett when did you live in Dothan?

      Shawn the BBQ in the picture is another great thing I love about the South…

      1. adam, i lived in dothan until i graduated from northview in ’95. two years at auburn, and i haven’t lived in south alabama since. but i go back often to visit — or as often as i can, rather.

        i’m just guessing you’re younger than me. i’m the oldest in my family. so you might know my brother or sister — brian and brittney harrison. i think we are now 33, 30, and 24.


  4. Okay, I was born and raised in Virginia for 34 years. Virginia is south of the Mason-Dixon line and the capital of the confederacy was in Richmond, so to my dying day I will claim to be a southerner…but for the last 6 years I’ve been living in Atlanta, which really is south, unless you compare it to Alabama, which people in Georgia seem to like to do but usually for different reasons. I think a case can be made that where the south begins keeps getting pushed further south. So, maybe you’ve got a point. Charlotte is probably the southern edge of the north now, although you might change your mind if you do much visiting in eastern North Carolina! Personally I think the issue is a result of all those Yankees who complain about the cold up north moving down to enjoy the nice heat we all enjoy and therefore pushing the south further south. As long as they don’t go messing with our pulled pork (or grits) then we’re willing to let them join us down here in God’s country.

    1. jody, my wife is from virginia and i often have to remind her that the capital of the confederacy left richmond for montgomery. i tell her richmond just wasn’t really south enough.

      we joke a lot about what is and isn’t the south. when i transferred from auburn to another college, everyone from my hometown really did refer to it as me “going up north to live with the yankees.” i moved to nashville, tennessee.

  5. 1) The food for sure: boiled peanuts, hoe cakes, shrimp ‘n grits, banana pudding, coca-cola ham, chicken ‘n dumplings, low country boil…I could go on all day!

    2) Slower pace of life (not as much as it used to be)

    3) Manners – I still say “Sir” and “Ma’am” to anyone close to my parents age.

    4) State Fairs

    5) Front porches and rocking chairs

    6) Paula Deen

    7) Kudzu

  6. Being born and raised in Louisiana, I can truly speak from the south…
    -Spicy foods…true Tex-Mex
    -The understanding that anyone you hug during the summer most likely had a shower that morning even though they may be covered in sweat.
    -A Sonic on every block and especially their crushed ice and a Cherry Limeade
    -Superior Bar and Grill (Louisiana)

  7. I am from NC and my favorites are certainly the BBQ and ZXABY’s. Also, the fact that there are still some fighting the Civil War is an interesting concept. That Chicken and Waffles is a true combination and is devastatingly good. Those are my favorite things…those and that once you get into the South you know it and you feel like time slows down and life just becomes so much easier.

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