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We’ve taken a bit of hiatus from our Southern Delicacy features, but in honor of Derby Week, we think the mint julep is a great one to jump back in with!

Photo by The Studio B from Anne + Eric’s wedding

There is just something about those shiny silver mint julep glasses–we love them filled with fresh mint or flowing with flowers. There is no question that that these glasses are the epitome of classic and Southern! How to make a true mint julep remains a hotly debated topic in the world of bar tending and mixology, but the classic version of a mint julep is served in silver julep cups, filled to the brim with a refreshing concoction of the finest bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint, and crushed ice. These classic silver cups should be chilled before being served.

Fun fact: if you want to fit in at the Derby, be sure to hold the glass properly! Only by the bottom and rim of the glass, so one’s hand does not transfer heat to the drink. I imagine Rhett Butler made a mean mint julep, AND knew how to hold the glass!

On left: photo by Elaine Palladino from Baylor + Daniel’s wedding; on right: photo by Ashley Seawell from Sarah + Gabe’s wedding

I was unable to track down the exact origin of the julep, but it is said that the mint julep originated in the Southern United States around the eighteenth century, and can be traced back to a British novel from 1803, in which a traveler wrote about drinking a mint julep at a northern Virginia plantation. It was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It has also been said that farmers in the South drank mint juleps in the morning, using the mint to jumpstart their days! Yikes, I bet that’d put a pep in your step!

Photos by Katie Stoops from Love in the Commonwealth

The term “julep” is generally defined as a “sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.” The word itself is derived from the Persian word Golâb, meaning “rose water.”

While earlier recipes included many other spirits, such as rum or gin, bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed all others. As a champagne celebration kind of gal myself, I love the twist of a champagne julep! And if you didn’t think the MJ could get any more Southern, there’s the mint julep sweet tea recipe!

On left: photo by Justin DeMutiis from Jessica + Derek’s wedding; on right: photo by Laura Gordon from Ellie + Breck’s wedding

Nowadays, the mint julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, and rightly so! The mint julep first became the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938 when they were served them in collectable glasses and sold them for 75 cents apiece. Since then, almost 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. This feat requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice! Woah!

Now if only I could don some Lilly and my Jacks, and have a silver glass in my hand, I’d be sure to enjoy the Derby! Cheers, y’all!

P.S. Check out our past Delicacies for some yummy treats to accompany your drink!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Kathryn reply

    I am growing mint for the first time this year, and it’s grown like crazy this week! I will have to use it for derby drinks. Thank you for this history.

  2. avatar Veronica reply

    Hey Marisaa,
    Great post.Thanks for sharing.Mint is really beneficial in summers.I love its smell :)

  3. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    Where can I purchase the silver cups? Do they have to be of sterling? And while I’m asking – does anyone know where to get copper cups that Moscow Mules are served in?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Lisa! We love these monogrammed ones from Three Hip Chicks! And these Moscow Mule ones from Sur La Tables:

  4. avatar Matt reply

    Nice summary Marissa…the photography make me thirsty :)

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Mmm, y’all! With the unofficial start of summer (and official start of white pants season!), I’m ready for all the delicious delicacies that come with a Southern summer. Think tall glasses of sweet tea (or an Arnold Palmer in my case) with a side of deviled eggs or some fresh cut watermelon by the lake! Are you drooling yet?

If not, just wait a few seconds, because today we’re chatting about one of my personal favorites, fried green tomatoes!

Fried green tomatoes (the food, not the movie – though the movie did take place in the South!) are a common side dish around these parts made from unripe (green) tomatoes coated with cornmeal and fried.

Traditionally, FGTs are made by cutting the tomatoes into thick (about 1/2-inch) slices then seasoning them with salt and pepper (or a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder for our friends ’round the Bayou!). Then they are coated with plain, coarse cornmeal, and shallow fried in bacon fat for a few minutes each side, or until golden brown. (P.S. Shallow frying is preferred, as the tomatoes do not float in the oil.)

How Sweet It Is

Another option when frying green tomatoes is to prep the tomatoes with a “wash.” In this case, the sliced tomatoes are dipped into buttermilk, or occasionally a beaten egg, before they are ‘rolled’ in the cornmeal. Using a beaten egg makes for a slightly firmer texture than using buttermilk. While not always necessary, adding this dip before the cornmeal helps it stay in place during the frying process.

My favorite little nugget about fried green tomatoes? Apparently this delicacy originated when Southerners were forced to remove some of the tomatoes from the vine while still green to allow the rest to mature to the traditional red — the Southern growing season is so prolific that otherwise, the plant would collapse under the weight of all that fruit! Obviously, the next logical step was to fry up the bounty.

As you can see, traditionally prepared fried green tomatoes have that fall-off-the-fruit look that definitely would be divine for a rehearsal dinner or newlywed dinner party!

Katrina Runs for Food, Southern Living, Family Circle, Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings

So you want to get fancy with your FTGs? We’ve got you! I think the caprese salad made with fried green tomatoes would be a showstopper at any dinner party I was invited to!

Oven-fried green tomato caprese stacks by How Sweet It Is, fried green tomato po’boy and BLT slider from Southern Living

And y’all know us! We can’t sneak away without including a few (mini) options fit for a wedding! I know Mrs. Thomas is just dying over the baby-sized bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sliders! Who wouldn’t? Not to mention I’m all about the abbreviation on the sign – way too fun!

BLFGT sliders photo by The Nichols via Southern Weddings, individual fried green tomatoes photo by Adam Barnes via Southern Weddings, mini fried green tomato bites by Blue Plate Chicago

Y’all, I’m embarrassed to admit that this true-blue Southern girl has never even attempted to make fried green tomatoes… although I’ve eaten my fair share! I’m thinking this recipe might be my best bet. But, I also love this healthier version as well!

Have you tried your hand at homemade FGT’s? Or do you have a fabulous recipe for someone who is a bit culinarily challenged? I’d love it if you’d share it with me!

Adam Barnes is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Kayleigh reply

    This looks so delicious. My favorite fried green tomato dish I’ve ever had was blackened FGT with goat cheese and a balsamic drizzle, similar to the caprese dish above.

  2. avatar Tracy reply

    I grew up in the south; my mom always dipped the sliced tomatoes in buttermilk, followed by dipping in flour that has your choice of seasoning stirred into it (salt, pepper, paprika, etc.). Then fried to a light golden brown on both sides in a skillet. She also claims that a green tomato that has just a slight little bit of pink to it but that is still firm works best. Guess that is why I by far prefer the lighter flour battered version versus cornmeal batter. To each his own, I certainly would not turn down a fgt because it was battered with cornmeal!!

  3. avatar Denis reply

    Mamma mia, looks so yummy! Love x

  4. avatar Anna ( reply

    I am IN LOVE with fried green tomatoes! I can’t find any as good as the ones I’ve had in Memphis. It’s a hard life looking for these delights in NYC! Thanks so much for sharing (and reigniting my search for the perfect fried green tomato!)

  5. avatar Parker reply

    My mouth is officially watering! I love posts like these!

    Being from {very, very South} Mississippi, there are so many ways to make FGTs! One very easy way is to slice the tomato, dip in egg (butter even works at times!), then roll in italian breadcrumbs. I fry mine in a very shallow layer of olive oil and they are divine!

    I may have to whip some up tonight for supper! :)

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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!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Jessica reply

    Was just wondering where the name “hushpuppies” came from the other day with my family at a Seafood restaurant !

  2. avatar Laura reply

    When I took the quiz last week, I said that my favorite southern delicacy was hushpuppies! I’m partial to the kind served at barbeque restaurants myself, those tend to be more hot-dog shaped instead of round. And a sack of hushpuppies from Cook-Out for less than $2? You can’t beat that!

  3. avatar Kristin reply

    All this hush puppy talk has me craving a trip to the beach to visit my favorite seafood (hush puppy) restaurants. Yumm-o.

  4. avatar Jessica Clinch reply

    My favorite hushpuppies are from Cook-Out too! Thank goodness we have one so close to Elon :) I’d love to try those crab cake hushpuppies- they look delicious!

  5. avatar Allyson reply

    Cook-Out hushpuppies are so good! The bad thing is that there is a cookout on the street right behind my house, it’s so dangerous. I also judge all BBQ restaurants by their hushpuppies, it can make or break it for me.

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    My wedding is THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!! :-) And we are serving hush puppies on a bed of pulled pork in a martini glass during the cocktail hour. :-) soooo excited!!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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