At Snackbar restaurant in Oxford, Mississippi, executive chef Vishwesh Bhatt is serving up Southern fare with global flare. His Indian roots add cultural influence to his culinary repertoire, but it’s common ingredients like peanuts that inspire his bold, global approach to Southern cuisine.
Chinese consumers love peanuts. The country is the number one producer of peanuts and yet China still imports peanuts from the US and other countries to meet the demand. This summer, American global food brand McDonalds tapped into Chinese love of peanut products and launched an LTO of a beef burger topped with a steamed egg and creamy peanut butter sauce. In a four-star review of the sandwich, this site said, “for those not in the know, peanut butter is probably the single greatest addition to a burger.”
“Southern food is more than fried chicken and biscuits,” said Virginia Willis, James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author and Editor-at-Large for Southern Living magazine and author of the popular column “Cooking with Virginia.” Though many people associate Southern food with deep fried and butter-laden meals, Willis argues that misperception overlooks the rich cultural history and agricultural nature of the cuisine. She sees the regional fare as a wholesome way to use fresh, local ingredients, like peanuts; and she’s helping others rethink Southern food.
Whether you’re hosting a casual backyard barbeque or an upscale dessert party, a cheese and charcuterie board is a great addition to the menu. A crowd-pleasing appetizer board doesn’t have to require much prep time, and it will keep guests occupied so you can enjoy hosting.
The peanut has deep roots in South America. In fact, the ancient ancestors of the modern-day peanut were recently traced back to the areas of Bolivia and Peru. Peanuts have been a familiar part of the diets of people living in these areas for centuries, from traditional complex mole sauces to empanadas filled with peanuts and potatoes. The love of peanuts continues today and you can see it on grocery store shelves too.
When you imagine a classic menu in the American South, what comes to mind? Fried chicken, pork BBQ, mac and cheese and collards, for sure. Kimchi fried rice might take you by surprise then at Chef Lee Gregory’s restaurant The Roosevelt in Richmond, Virginia. But Chef Lee says this dish makes perfect sense for a Southern menu.
When I first started my career as a kitchen apprentice, I was attracted to the kitchen brigade in the Western kitchen. Eventually I was recruited to an area where there very few restaurants with authentic Asian food. That was the turning point in my life when I decided to start figuring out how to cook food from home. And I never looked back.
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