Summer is, without question, my favorite season. I love the long nights and the hot days—but most of all, I love the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Something about summer also makes me homesick for the South. A Southern summer is something to behold. Here are a few of my favorite Southern summer foods (OK, and one beverage, too). While a few of these are popular outside the South, it simply wouldn’t be a Southern summer without them. These delights will keep you happy from now until the first frost.
There is no single food, except got maybe tomatoes, that is more quintessentially “summer” than corn. Grilled, roasted or boiled, this vegetable brings me back to hours spent on the front porch shucking corn with my grandma. I love corn plain and raw, just the way nature intended, but other Southerners enjoy a variety of preparations, dressed up with anything from butter to mayo.
Growing up, my dad always had lots of tomato plants. They produced and produced until finally, around late July, there’d come a time when he didn’t know what to do with all the ’maters (that rhymes with “haters”)! Then, each family member was assigned a minimum number of tomatoes to eat each day. Eat we did! There is no better way to enjoy a homegrown tomato than between two slices of good, soft bread with a schmear of mayo and a little salt and pepper.
While Southerners enjoy sweet tea year-round, summer is when this beverage really shines. It’s refreshing, delicious and the perfect excuse to use that glass pitcher your grandma gave you. As a bonus, it pairs perfectly with every other summer treat on this list.
As someone with a summer birthday, I have strong opinions about desserts in July. My favorite summer dessert is mountain pie (aka mountain cobbler): a simple dump cobbler made with peaches or blueberries and served with ice cream. Mountain pie is total perfection.
Practically any food on the grill spells summer. When the mercury rises, I know I’m not the only one who completely ignores her kitchen. This time of year, anything that can be grilled is what’s for dinner: ribs, burgers, sausage, chicken, corn, red peppers, mushrooms—it’s all fair game!
What are some your summer favorites? What foods bring back memories of your childhood summers?
Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a photographer and writer based out of Baltimore. Born and raised in North Carolina, Elena writes about Southern food culture, blending stories and recipes to bring a piece of the South to everyone. You can find her delicious recipes on her blog, Biscuits and Such, and follow her food musings on Twitter @biscuitsandsuch.