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Everything you need to know about the Deep South

Beale_Street_at_Night CREDIT © Brand USA & Memphis Visitors Bureau

Everything you need to know about the Deep South

story by: Anna Sarjeant

"There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better" – Bob Dylan
If the Deep South is America's musical heartland, then New Orleans is most definitely its blood supply; jazz may be the default style in this city, but its cousins, the blues and country, don't live too far away. Be prepared to gain a kilo – or two, three, or five – with gumbo, jambalaya and huge helpings of shrimp creole served at every neon-lit brasserie. Music and food – two very good reasons to fall in love with New Orleans. And Bob agrees!

"I’ll stay in Memphis" – Elvis Presley
Music accolades and assassinations, Memphis is well known for both. While not the birthplace of Elvis, it is where he was first discovered; along with 'rock n roll’ itself in the infamous Sun Studios. Trace the origins of all rock’s legends, from Johnny Cash to Jerry Lee Lewis and wind up in Elvis’ Colonial-style mansion, Graceland. Yes he did die on the toilet. From one king to another, the city’s influence stems further than music; venture to Lorraine Motel and pay your respects to Martin Luther King, who was assassinated here.

"There is a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin" – Willie Nelson, American singer-songwriter
From thick Texan drawls to barbecued ribs – everything’s delicious in Austin. The city’s rich diversity ranges from bucking broncos to an eclectic music scene, and one which dates back to the hippie-centric 70s. Decades on and beer-soaked nights and live music still rule. As do Austin’s famed barbecue joints, savour hearty brisket and ribs in a city smokehouse. Traditionally barbecue diners are lunchtime traders, many selling-out around noon, so if it’s pulled pork you seek, make sure you arrive early.

"If you can't play guitar and sing in Nashville, you might as well just be a construction worker"
– Patrick Carney, The Black Keys
Eat, drink and be musical. That should be the Nashville motto. A city where songs are written, Jack Daniels is poured and creamy grits feature on every menu. Music lovers should venture to Lower Broadway, albeit touristy, it’s the avenue of honky tonks and neon lights. Go for the ambience, as well as famed record shops and an endless supply of live music, it smells of tobacco, beer and aspiration. Pull up a stool and succumb to the dulcet tones of a man playing his guitar – he’ll probably be crooning about a ‘good-for-nuttin’ ex-lover.

For all the delicious flavours of the world’s ‘soul food’, cuisine from America’s Deep South didn’t start with such an easy-to-digest past. As the former five states of slavery, dishes from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina were born from years of enslavement. Using the left-overs from whatever their masters ate, workers would craft delicious meals from scraps and inspiration from their homeland. The result was a mouth-watering fusion of meat and spice, seafood, rice and flavour.

JAMBALAYA Creole rice dish, often spicy, with shrimps, chicken, vegetables and herbs.

GUMBO A thick stew-like soup from Louisiana. Consisting of stock, mixed vegetable and meat or seafood.

GRITS Coarsely ground porridge-like maize, commonly served with butter, cheese, bacon or shrimps.

PULLED-PORK SANDWICH Popular in Tennessee, the pork’s cooked extra slow so it easily breaks (and pulls) apart.

CRAWFISH Boiled in huge baskets and served with potatoes and a cob of corn. Eat with your fingers.


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