In her essay regarding the Northern reach of Southern cuisine, writer Courtney Balestier speaks about the rise in popularity of Southern food in New York, a “crush” of sorts, aided primarily by the “gateway drug” fried chicken.
Southern cuisine has indeed had a major impact on various regions around the United States, including but not limited to the Northeast. Ten years after Danny Meyer first had the improbable vision of “urban barbecue,” and brought Blue Smoke to New York, it is almost impossible to explore the food scenes of the Northeast’s largest cities without noticing Southern influences.
Arkansas-born, Brooklyn-raised chef Rob Newton opened his Southern restaurant Seersucker in 2010, hoping to refine Southern dishes without ripping out their souls. The result is a modern Southern type of kitchen, with traditional Southern ingredients taking on new and unique twists. Collard greens, for example, are cooked with country ham and house-made stock, “rich and soulful and just cleaned up and polished, without being, like, collard-green foam,” writes Balestier.
The food scenes in cities across the country continue to diversify – it is no longer surprising to come across a Jewish delicatessen in the South or a fried chicken shack in the Northwest.
Let us all hope that chefs nationwide can adhere to Newton’s pledge to pay homage to the origin of ingredients and adapt a small personal touch, rather than trying to re-invent foods entirely and in turn compromising their tradition.
So, enough with crap like fried chicken sushi already.
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