The Lighter Side of Southern Cuisine

With talks of Southern Food Queen Paula Deen revealing her diagnosis of diabetes, many have started to wonder the health benefits, if any, of Southern cooking. What we traditionally think of comfort or soul food, Southern cuisine has taken many names in recent years, but can always be distinguished by its rib-sticking, deep-fried, cheesy goodness. Yet, what we confuse Southern cooking for, in fact is really just preparation. The basis for classic Southern dishes is really the ingredients not its battered and deep-fried methods.

To bring light to this common misconception, Chef Virginia Willis, has written her third cookbook, "Back to Brillian, Y'all" what shows a lighter side to what we know as heavy Southern cooking. In a recent Reuters interview, Chef Willis clarifies what true Southern cooking entails and why people often equate the cuisine with America's obesity problem.

Southern native, Willis, explains that although the South has the highest obesity rate, it's not necessarily from Southern cuisine, but instead from fast and processed food like the rest of the country. This of course brings to mind the availability of fresh foods in food deserts like the South.

Like other defenders of classic soul food and Southern cuisine, Willis tries to educate people that what does make up Southern cooking is using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients in simple and not overly complicated recipes. She wants to show American through her latest cookbook that Southern food is more than just "fried chicken and overcooked greens."

Check out Reuters' Chef Virginia Willis interview here.

And for more of Southern and Soul Food, check out our articles below:

Soul Food Returns to its Healthier Roots

Soul Food Series, Part I: What is Soul Food?

Soul Food Series, Part II: Chicago and it's Southern Roots

Soul Food Series, Part III: Dooky Chase's and Creole

Photo:  Muy Yum

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