Inspired by the “Texan Concepts” concept at our sister publication, the Houston Press, we're launching the first in a series of highly scientific Venn Diagrams exploring what people actually eat vs. what Angelenos think they eat. First up: the (not so) dirty South.
Methodology: A rigorous, highly controlled study conducted in the confines of a pristine laboratory. Just kidding. We conducted an informal poll via email, Facebook and chatting with friends. We made sure not to include Texans in this poll; Texan cuisine is an entirely separate Venn Diagram. However, our definition of Southern was broad. We don't subscribe to the belief, as many Southerners do, that if a state wasn't part of the Confederacy, it isn't Southern. (With the exception of Miami, you're still southern to us, Florida.)
Conclusion: No matter how fatty or fried we might think Southern food is, it's even fattier and more deeply fried than we can imagine.
Notes: Perhaps the strangest exclusion from the Southern side of the diagram was sweet tea, which 2 out of 3 non-Southerners listed. Perhaps that speaks to the penetration of McDonald's Sweet Tea? A few more things Southerners eat that didn't make it onto the list: corn on the cob, stews (Brunswick, burgoo, gumbo), pickles (preferably sweet bread-and-butter), squash, fatback, banana pudding, poboys and watermelon
One of our Southerners, comedian Kevin Garbee, cited one of his favorite dishes, mashed potatoes, “or should I say potato-flavored butter.”
Another one of our Southerners, Drago Centro beverage director and sommelier Michael Shearin who was born and lived in North Carolina until he was 11, says banana sandwiches (with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip), were a childhood favorite — though he hasn't had one in a long time.
“This is so embarrassing to actually write down,” Shearin says, “but it is definitely where I came from and what I grew up eating.”
Thanks to everyone who participated via Facebook or any other method. Special thanks to our Southerners: Kevin, Michael, Mary Patterson Broome, Ryan Pfeiffer and the rest.