Caitlin and I visited her family in Georgia this year for Christmas (escaping some snow which melted before I came back). I left my camera there, but let me tell you what I brought back with me before I finish putting it away:
Cheerwine! It was a ridiculous week for soda finds, in fact. I brought back Cheerwine and Peach Crush (which tastes like peach Jello) but was also able to have Bubble Up, Red Rock cola, Nugrape, Double Cola, and Dr Enuf - and only passed up Sun Drop and RC cola because I can get them up here now.
Also picked up, soda-wise, but not southern per see: Dragonfruit Pepsi, at a gas station. I like it because it's so bizarre - it tastes like Pepsi mixed with a generically tropical Kool Aid. It's not like the "dragonfruit flavor" we're seeing in beverages lately bears any resemblance to real dragonfruit (which is too mild-flavored to make sense as a flavor to add to something like Pepsi - I think real dragonfruit juice added to Pepsi would just taste like weak Pepsi). It must be the name that seems marketable (though for the record, Dragonfruit Pepsi is actually called Pepsi X and has some cross-branding relationship to that ridiculous X Factor show).
Pecan log rolls. Oh man, my favorite candy maybe. Also got almond log rolls which I haven't tried yet.
White barbecue sauce and moonshine taffy, both gifts from Caitlin's mom. (As well as homemade pear preserves, crabapple jelly, and zucchini pickles.)
Sausage for biscuits and gravy. Can't get much up here except Jimmy Dean.
Duke's mayo. Southern brands of mayonnaise are generally preferred for things like pimento cheese and tomato pie. I usually get Blue Plate because that's what I'm used to from New Orleans, but got Duke's to check it out.
Tony Chachere's, a Louisiana seasoning blend that is a staple for me.
Luzianne tea bags. I use great oolong and pu erh teas for hot tea, but for sweet tea, man, it has to be Luzianne.
Self-rising cornmeal. Just a time-saver, sure, but totally unavailable up here.
Souse (a form of head cheese, though I'm expecting it's seasoned differently from the Cajun head cheese I'm used to)
I'm undoubtedly forgetting stuff - my luggage was heavvvy. And this isn't counting what we ate there, of course - which I would put off until I'm less worn out from just getting back, but I have a busy week coming up and then boom it's the new year, so, highlights:
Vera and Jerry took us out to Classic on Noble in Alabama, where the shrimp and grits has been called "one of the 100 dishes in Alabama to try before you die." Man, that's underselling it. Oh, everything else was good too - fried oysters, coconut pie - but for once, Caitlin and I both got the same thing, even though there was a crab cake with fried soft-shells on the menu. It was just so good you wouldn't want anything else - not just the best shrimp and grits I've had, the best grits I've had, period.
These amazing greens made by a co-worker of Caitlin's stepfather - poke sallet, collards, and turnip greens, I think he said. I have to up my greens game and my grits game.
Doughnuts and fried pies (cherry, coconut, peach, and sweet potato, in my order of preference) from Vogelsberg Bakery in Carrollton, GA. Good God. I almost didn't get doughnuts, but thank God I did - absolutely the best doughnut I've had in my life. Yeast-raised doughnut, glazed - your basic non-cake doughnut, you know? But so good. So amazingly good. And usually I far prefer filled doughnuts!
Barbecue! Pulled brisket, which I kept putting on pimento cheese sandwiches. The barbecue sauce was very peppery, as in black pepper - which I love, since that's what I'm used to from Rudy's in Texas.
And the chains - none of which I'd been to in years: Cracker Barrel, which gets a bad rap (as all chains do and as most deserve) but is comfort food regardless; Steak and Shake, where I got a Frisco melt for the first time since moving out of Indiana six and a half years ago, and which still absolutely serves the best chain hamburgers; and Sonic, which I hadn't been to in even longer. (The creamslushes at Sonic - a mix of "slush" and soft-serve ice cream - are a lot like the freezes - half soft serve, half snowball - I loved in New Orleans.)
Unsurprisingly, once I came home to an empty fridge, I started cooking - Coca-Cola salad, pimento cheese with Duke's, Coca-Cola cake, pork stock still cooking away as we speak for greens.
I'm sure I'm forgetting things. It was a good week!