Damaris Phillips Says Not To Believe This Southern Food Myth

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Ever since Damaris Phillips won Food Network Star season nine in 2013, the talented chef has leveraged her cooking skills and amiable Southern presence into a successful career as a TV host and cookbook writer. Her Food Network show Southern at Heart made it clear what her preferred style of cooking is, and out of all Food Network personalities, she might just be the go-to gal when it comes to southern comfort foods. Just ask Bobby Flay, whom she actually beat with a tuna casserole on the appropriately named Beat Bobby Flayper The Travel Addict.

Phillips' considerable Southern food credibility means that when she makes a statement about this particular type of cooking, it's well worth listening — especially when the celebrity chef decides to tackle a common misconception about this particular cuisine. Could it be something that helps you make your Southern-style meals even heartier, somehow? Let's take a look at the Southern food myth Phillips says you shouldn't believe.

Damaris Phillips says Southern food doesn't need to be as heavy as you think

As the author of a cookbook called Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy, Phillips has paid a lot of attention into making Southern-style dishes less meat-oriented — and she feels that it's pretty easy to make the dishes lighter, because not many people understand that Southern food's reputation as meat-based, heavy cuisine is somewhat undeserved. 

"I think the thing that people don't realize about Southern food so much is that typically meat and all that heavy stuff was used as flavoring," Phillips told the Food Network. "And really the main stars of the meal were typically, when we grew up, were vegetables. So we had lots of vegetables, lots of beans, lots of legumes. Really we didn't have a ton of money for big, big hunks of meat, and traditionally in the South, that's not what you got at all."

When you think about this statement, it's pretty easy to see her point. After all, juicy fried chicken is delicious, but what truly turns it into an opulent Southern meal is when you combine it with a heaping helping of assorted veggie sides and some delicious cornbread.