• When I'm asked to define "Southern food," I usually turn that question back to my audience and ask them what they think. I hear responses like fried chicken, catfish, barbecue, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. These are excellent examples, because they are historically grounded. You can trace each dish back to the people who brought these food traditions to the South. Today, these foods are central to the core culinary grammar of the American South.