What Did People Eat in the Southern Colonies?

alle12/E+/Getty Images

In the southern American Colonies, the wealthy dined on roast beef and many other types of meat, while the poorer classes, servants and slaves ate more humble foods, such as corn bread, greens, pork, fried chicken and organ meats. Soul food and Southern country cooking is a direct descendant of this lower-class cuisine. Southern colonial cuisine also gave birth to several American barbecue traditions.

Like the other colonies, southern settlers brought little from the Old World with them beyond some basic seeds that were often not appropriate for the American climate. They quickly adopted many Native American foods, such as corn, hominy, pole beans, corn breads and wild greens. Ash cake, a type of corn bread made of cornmeal and water and baked in the warm ashes of a banked fire, was a staple among slaves and the very poor. Corn meal mush was a common breakfast food, and organ meats like chitlin, tripe and chicken livers were popular as well. Game meat like opossum, groundhog or raccoon was frequently served up in barbecues or stews.

The wealthy classes, on the other hand, ate very much like the aristocrats in the Old World. Roast beef was a favorite, but it was common to have a poultry course and a fish course with each meal as well. Dining was considered a social affair, and the South developed its own haute cuisine.