What Paula Deen Wishes You Knew About Southern Cooking

For anyone that might be even slightly inclined to believe that Southern cooking is somehow "less than" say, French cooking, there's good reason to change that opinion. The first thing to know is that it was in the American South that barbecue was developed, established, and perfected — and as a cooking style, barbecue is every bit as nuanced, if not quite a bit more so than even sous vide or confit (regardless of how fancy those French words might sound). 

As well, the concept of "Southern fried" is nothing if not iconic, spawning serious, legitimate cooking contests such as the renowned Deep Fried Masters (via Eater). Moreover, though some may point to Southern chitlins that are made of low-on-the-hog pig intestines, let us not forget that sweetbreads (which are considered a delicacy in French cooking) are nothing more than the thymus gland of a cow. 

There is a reason, of course, why this is on our minds at the moment — and that is because the very icon of true Southern cooking, Paula Deen, has now joined the esteemed ranks of celebrity chefs and other culinary prodigies on Fox's hit series "MasterChef." With her appearance, albeit controversial, it's now time for Southern cooking to be accorded some of the prestige it has long deserved. To that end, Deen herself has some things she wishes we all knew about the regional style.

Paula Deen wants to change the way you think about Southern cooking

Now that legendary Southern home cooking personality Paula Deen has become a guest judge on "MasterChef," it seems the perfect time to set the record straight on just how complex and nuanced Southern cooking can be. And who better to do so than the "queen of Southern cuisine" herself? Here are a few simple truths about Southern cooking that she recently shared with Foodsided.

First, Southern cooking isn't all about fried chicken, she pointed out. For that matter, Southern cooking isn't all about fried anything. "Just because we love fried chicken," she said, doesn't mean that "everything's fried." And just because two of Southern cooking's most prominent offerings — barbecue and deep frying — are heavily dependent on animal protein, it doesn't mean that there isn't a literal bounty of other ingredients on the table. In fact, Deen told Foodsided that, from what she has seen over the past 25 years, there is no region that puts an emphasis on vegetables like collard greens the way the South does. Now that's food for thought.