Last week, I was having a highly-excited conversation with a friend of mine who is headed back to North Carolina (we’re both currently in Arizona). In addition to everything else she had to look forward to from her trip, I just knew hushpuppies had to be on the list — after all, we are both obsessed with the Cook-Out version! Y’all, I once drove all the way from Florida to North Carolina, and once I crossed the state line my first stop was Cook-Out, just for hushpuppies!
No surprise then, that today’s Southern Delicacy is one of my very favorite foods of all time. I actually judge the Southern-ness of restaurants on the quality of their hushpuppies (and fried pickles!).
Gourmet hushpuppies photo by Harwell Photography via Southern Weddings and hush puppy pie plate signage photo by Dave Lapham via Southern Weddings
A hushpuppy (or fried cornbread ball, for my Northern friends) is a savory treat made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball shapes. Frequently served as a side dish, usually at seafood restaurants or barbecues, these yummy little bites supposedly originated in the 1800’s in Native American cooking. (Fun fact: Lots of food we consider traditional Southern fare, like grits, actually originated from Native American tribes!)
With a little more research, I also found that some say hushpuppies originated in the settlement of Nouvell Orleans (later called New Orleans) in the 1700’s, created by a group of Ursuline nuns from France. The nuns used cornmeal to create a delicious food they called croquettes de maise. These croquettes spread rapidly through the Southern states and eventually came to be known as hushpuppies!
Shrimp and okra hushpuppies, hoppin’ John hushpuppies, shrimp and okra hushpuppies, and crab cake hushpuppies
Beyond the delicious taste of these little guys, I love the story of their name. According to Southern folklore, the first recorded reference to the word “hush-puppy” dates to 1899. The name “hushpuppies” is attributed to hunters and fishermen, who would fry a basic cornmeal mixture and toss it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries.
Other hush puppy legends attribute the term “hushpuppies” to the Civil War, during which soldiers supposedly tossed fried cornbread to quell the barks of Confederate dogs!
Red velvet hushpuppies from Best Friends for Frosting and apple cider hushpuppies from The Cozy Apron
Aren’t these sweet varieties so fun? They look delicious!
No matter the origin, I just love the stories behind this delicacy! I think they would make a fun cocktail hour ‘pass,’ or I’d love to see a hushpuppy bar with all the different variations. Mmm, I’m thinking a Southern road trip is in order!
Where are your favorite hushpuppies from? I’d love to try a different version, so share your favorite hushpuppy-serving restaurants in the comments below!
Harwell Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!