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Southern cooking -- a taste of Dixie

July 15, 1996

From Correspondent Linda Ciampa

Atlanta (CNN) -- Think of the South and images of plantations, peaches and peanuts may come to mind. But besides peaches and peanuts, there are plenty other things for food lovers to discover when they travel through Dixie.

At Maurice's Piggy Park in West Columbia, South Carolina, they say there's one taste that made the South famous. -- barbecue.

In the South, good barbecue is a religious experience.

"What we call barbecue is fresh pork, cooked slowly over hickory coals for 24 hours. You serve it with your real good sauce, and we think that mustard-based sauce is the best sauce in the world," says Maurice Bessinger of Piggy Park Restaurant.

And how about some iced tea to wash down that barbecue? Venture past Charleston and onto Wadmalaw Island. You'll find the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in America.

The tea crop produces a Southern staple. In the south, iced tea flows like water.

To experience more Southern specialties, head to Vidalia, Georgia, and you'll find some of the sweetest onions in the country. (They say the low sulfur content of the soil is what makes the yellow beauties so sweet.)

Of course, no trip through the South would be complete without having a big bowl of grits. A lot of people have heard of them, and even tasted them -- but don't know what they are.

In actuality, there are two kinds of grits. Hominy grits are ground corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed.

Plain corn grits are just dried, ground corn. At Logan Turnpike Mill in Blairsville, Georgia, they grind about 40 tons of corn a year, and most of that goes into grits.

So, if you crave creamy grits, sweet onions, iced tea, or hickory smoked barbecue, come hungry to the South. You won't be disappointed, and you'll likely go home whistling Dixie.

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