Southern Cuisine

By Jacquetta Williams, Macaroni Kid Augusta Publisher, Augusta, Ga February 19, 2024

EDITORS NOTE: Although this was written by a fellow publisher as an article for Black History Month, I am white and have the exact same memories of visiting my grandmother for Sunday Dinner after church each week. The food, the family and the love was just the same and my favorite side was always the Hot Water Cornbread! Color is only skin deep, but southern goes all the way down to your soul!   

As a child, I loved Sundays! Sunday was the day I went to church with my family, and we would sing hymns from the hymnal, and recite scripture from memory, we did church…every Sunday. But that part isn’t what filled me with excitement. It was the Sunday dinner at my grandma’s house that had me full of excitement. We’d leave church and tell our cousins, “We are going straight there, no stops!” 

My granny’s house was on the end corner of Maple Street and pulling up the joy in my heart would instantly send a beam straight to my face! I could hardly keep my seatbelt strapped in. Walking in her house, the smell of church rice, macaroni pie, greens, fried chicken, sweet potato bread, and corn bread would slap you in the face! The way the scents would marry together and creep into your nose and straight to your heart made you instantly feel connected to her and the love she put in each dish. Aside from the food, literally everyone was there, there were not strangers. If you were in the area, you could get a plate! A full plate of goodness, love, kindness and acceptance. We would eat, talk loudly, play cards, watch television, play outside and then start packing left-overs for the next day. 

She cooked like that until she couldn’t, and it never looked like work for her. She really looked like she enjoyed it. This is my story, but there are many Black Americans who have stories just like this or similar. So, a big part of black history is the bond we share over food. Friendships are made, deals are made, encouragement is offered, and love is given with each plate of food. I wanted share some of those more traditional foods with you. Some of the ones you may or may not have had the pleasure of experiencing: Red Rice and Hot Water Cornbread.

Red Rice: 

Originating from the southeastern coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina, Charleston Red Rice Savannah Red Rice, or simply Red Rice is a traditional dish that I personally have enjoyed for years! This dish transitioned to the United States via slaves in the West Coast of Africa. Although slaves were the ones that harvested the rice, they were often only given the bottom of the barrel of the harvested rice. We call it rice grain or rice grits, because that what it was, small bit of rice. But with what they had; a meal was made. 

Red rice is beautiful combination of rice or rice grain, crushed tomatoes, bits of pork (bacon or sausage) some onion, peppers, seasoning, and love. This dish is usually on our table during holidays, and no one can get enough of it. The next time you are in Charleston or Savannah, and you see “Red Rice” on the menu, try it! You will not be disappointed

Hot Water Cornbread: 

Hot water cornbread was created from finely ground cornmeal, salt, and hot water. It was the perfect addition to meals that could be “sopped” up with bread. It is slightly different from traditional cornbread, but just as southern. It was the best alternative to sliced bread because it was cheaper. It was sugar less, unless you added a little honey or syrup, it’s crispy around the edges and soft in the middle and golden brown on the top and the absolute the best tasting bread ever!! Take my word for it or try it for yourself.