Incredible Breakfast Trends

Southern Cookin’

Southern home cookin’ — the words conjure up comfort food in the extreme. Even those north of the Mason-Dixon Line know that chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, grits and slabs of ham are staples on the best breakfast tables. The numbers prove it: Datassential shows egg dish ingredients of grits, country ham and biscuits tracking at 213, 162 and 145 percent of the national average, respectively.

While those are common Southern breakfast dishes, the influences giving birth to “traditional” Southern cooking came from many areas:

  • England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Native and African Americans adding their foods and flavors to those available in the areas they settled.
  • Separate cuisines branching off, like Creole and Cajun.
  • Proteins morphing from soft-shell crabs in the East, to chicken and pork farther inland, to spicy and joyously ethnic crawfish in Louisiana.

In short, there is no one Southern Cuisine, but combinations of distinct ones. Cornbread, soft-shell crabs, boiled peanuts, spicy sausage, chicken-fried steak, collard greens, barbecue, country ham, corn pudding and crawfish end up on the same breakfast menu.

Southern breakfasts are hearty affairs, with pork chops and eggs frequently menued, usually with sides of grits and the ubiquitous biscuit. Breakfast sandwiches here include both ham and biscuits approximately twice as often as the national average, per Datassential. Perennial favorites include shrimp and grits like that served at Hominy Grill in Charleston with sautéed shrimp, scallions, mushrooms and bacon over cheese grits. And where there is breakfast, there will likely be chicken and waffles, grits, and biscuits and gravy. All of these are on the menu at Hadley’s Southern Kitchen in Hermitage, Tennessee, including a toppings bar of 20 spreads, sauces and pickled vegetables to crown them.

Other items commonly found on traditional Southern morning menus are cornbread, fried apples and green tomatoes, chicken and items made from sweet potatoes. Memphis’ Café Eclectic serves a sweet potato hash with green peppers, onions, white Cheddar, bacon and chopped jalapeños topped with a sunny-side egg. There are sweet potato biscuits at Citrus in Virginia Beach, and Highland Bakery’s Sweet Potato Pancakes with warm caramelized brown sugar butter with pecans in Atlanta.

Beyond that, frequently menued items include

  • Seafood: Soft-Shell Crab Benedict at Citrus in Virginia Beach
  • Pork: Citrus Roasted Pork and Grits with citrus jalapeño pulled pork on grits and soft eggs at Refuel Café in New Orleans
  • Retro classic ingredients: Poached Eggs with griddled bacon, spaghetti squash, johnnycakes, boiled peanuts, kale and sorghum syrup at Holeman & Finch in Atlanta

Beloved Southern dishes boasting long traditions have staying power, resisting the forces fueling culinary currents in the Northeast and West Coast. On the contrary, outside of adding toast as a biscuit alternate for northern “snow birds,” the evidence points to favorite southern items spreading out onto national menus. Consider:

  • Chicken Fried Steak, Grilled Onions & Gravy; Fried Catfish (Southern Cooking Restaurant, Tacoma, Washington)
  • Jambalaya Omelette; Biscuits & Gravy (Wishbone, Chicago)
  • Eggs Sardou; Fried Green Tomato Benedict (Bon Temps Creole Café, San Luis Obispo, California)
  • Cheesy Grits with Andouille and Shrimp (Benedict’s, West Dundee, Illinois)
  • Fried Catfish; Candied Yams; Cornbread (LL Dent, Long Island, New York)

If you need more proof, look no further than your next drive-thru biscuit sandwich or the outcome of Chick-fil-A’s test of chicken and waffles. The South is generously sharing its comfort foods with the rest of us, and we’re finding them delicious, y’all.


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