Here at the Southern Living headquarters, our food team is constantly trying to predict what our readers will want next (More slow cooker recipes? Easy entertaining ideas? firstname.lastname@example.org!).
But today, we’re taking a break from our Easter recipe planning to do some chin stroking and wistful reminiscing, if you will, of our favorite Southern food moments in 2013 from culinary movements to particularly tasty burgers. Cue flashback music.
Hunter Lewis, Executive Editor
“I love that we’re coming back full circle to our agrarian roots. We’re digging in the dirt to grow what our grandparents and great grands grew. The tastiest development of this new-old movement is that Southern vegetables are finally getting their due. I also love the newfangled techniques that celebrate crisp-tender textures (think BBQ carrots), bright and fresh flavors (a zingy field pea vinaigrette), new spins on old ideas (like Sweet Potato Soldiers, the new glazed sweet potato) and assertively dressed raw salads using thinly sliced hardy greens, like young collards or kale.
Norman King, Associate Food Editor
The Saw Burger at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama is the best burger I’ve had all year! Chilled tomato slices and crisp shredded lettuce lower the temp of the cracklin’ hot beef patty, laced with molten American cheese down to a reasonable range allowing you to devour it in as few bites as possible. My buddy Patrick finishes his in about 5 and ¾ bites; it takes me about 7. I order it with potato salad and iced Barq’s Rootbeer.
Whitney Wright, Deputy Food Director
One of my favorite food moments in 2013 was eating at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi for the first time. My husband and I are new to the South, and although we had a hunch the region would offer up some good eating, it wasn’t until we ate at Doe’s that we fully realized what all the fuss about Southern food came from. The place boasts the most awesome assemblage of customers and, of course, steaks and tamales. It was that dinner that solidified what I’d heard before about dining down in Dixie. Southern meals and culinary traditions are in fact the richest in the world, not because of all the butter, but because the cuisine allows for little pinches of everything and everyone to season it.
Robby Melvin, Test Kitchen Director
Cooking up pork from Mountain Song Farm in Mentone, Alabama was definitely a highlight of my year. This farm represents all that is right in the world of pigs. From the quality of life to what they eat, the humane harvesting and the unbelievable processing of these magical animals, Mountain Song gets it all right. The flavor of the chops, tenderloins, shoulders, and sausages (their Andoullie is exquisite!) are unbelievably delicious, and the love and care taken to produce them is at the fore front.
Angela Sellers, Test Kitchen Professional
Pat York, Editorial Assistant
I have a daughter who is quickly becoming a very skilled baker, and this year she volunteered to make the signature birthday cake for my husband – an oatmeal spice cake passed down from his Aunt Margaret and his favorite dessert since he was a little boy. It was fabulous, as I knew it would be. I was so happy that not only was she able to bake this heirloom recipe, but she actually wanted to continue this tradition. My husband couldn’t help but think how pleased his great-aunt would be, knowing the journey this simple recipe has taken.
Hannah Hayes, Food Department Fellow
I was lucky to have many this year from eating raw wild oysters off the side of a dinghy in a Georgia estuary to sharing a transcendentally great meal at John Currence’s Snackbar with one of my favorite friends in one of my favorite cities. But the best by far was joining the Southern Living food team, and seeing firsthand all the magic and hard work that goes on here. I couldn’t ask for more fun or better people to taste test layer cakes with.