Now that good Southern food is in vogue, you may find some of these on fancy menus up North, but beware. God only knows what they have done to them. One thing about it, you cannot be politically correct and cook good southern food. It taste good for a reason - it has good old fashion ingredients. Sure, you can substitute this and that, but you will also be substituting taste and quality. It's a package deal.
A friend of mine who had visited and finally consented, under duress, to try collards acquired a taste for them while she was here. After she got back home (with the recipe) she called. "They just don't taste right." "Did you add the fat back for flavor?" "Yes" I knew she was lying but was willing to give her a break. "Have you had a frost yet?" "What?" "If you haven't had a frost yet, the collards won't be up to par."She later admitted that she could not bring herself to use fat back. The closest she could come was a packet of "Ham Flavoring".
Again with biscuits - folks always comment, "We try and try, follow the recipe, but we can never get them to turn out right." "Are you using shortening?" (I know lard is a lost cause) "Well, no. I added extra oil and butter." Well, duh! "It's never going to be right without the shortening." "I cannot imagine eating anything made with shortening." "Well you did and you liked it." (Actually the biscuits were made with lard but why cause unnecessary stress - ignorance is bliss.)
Our cakes taste better because they have pounds of real butter in them - not margarine, Not "I can't believe it's not butter." Trust me, that's not close, and it's not going to fool us, a cake, or Mother Nature. Our real iced tea is fresh, clear, and made from water, tea bags, and lots of honest to God sugar. It's not a mix or come from a can or a jug. And that moist dark fruit cake that taste so rich and yummy - soaked in brandy.
So if you want the authentic food from the South and you want it to taste the way you remember it - put your diets back in the books, forget any problems you ever had with animal fat, put the political incorrectness back in the closet. Down here we all eat alike, and we eat good. But for that flavor to be mouth watering and so memorable, it is authentic and real. Just like our southern belles and southern charm . . . and, um, and our red necks and NASCAR. Hey, what can I say - it's a package deal.