Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, and the diversity of its food culture reflects that. Traditional culinary styles in Georgia run parallel to Southern cuisine in general, but every Georgia region adds its own twist. From metropolitan eateries to down-home country kitchens, Georgia cuisine has something for everyone.
The flavor of Georgia
Southern food is rich in both tradition and texture, and the native cuisine of the Empire State of the South is no exception. Fried chicken, black-eyed peas, buttermilk biscuits, country ham, catfish, hominy grits and stewed greens of the mustard, turnip and collard varieties all make their home in pots and on plates throughout the vast Georgia heartland.
Barbecue is widely recognized as a staple throughout the South, and in people in Georgia have a whole array of finger-licking ways to manage the details. The common thread among Georgia barbecue styles is slow-smoked pork butt on oak or hickory fire, although some debate exists on whether an open pit or a drum smoker makes for the better stage. Georgia barbecue tends to be served with sauce, but the sauce base -- ketchup, bourbon, garlic, even mustard -- will vary from region to region.
Every autumn, Georgians convene on Jekyll Island for the Shrimp & Grits Festival, three days of celebrating the combo that might be the southern Atlantic region's most distinctive culinary experience. The dish is so beloved in some parts of the state that it appears on menus for all meals of the day, occasionally featuring fried or poached eggs for extra breakfast-appropriateness.
Like most modern cities, the population centers of Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Columbus and others offer widely various culinary options -- from fine dining to contemporary American to ethnic food from the four corners of the world. Patrons drive for miles to visit The Olde Pink House near the Savannah Riverfront, and the cutting-edge Five and Ten in Athens surprises and delights patrons with its fresh take on regional staples.
Culinary schools in Georgia
A culinary arts renaissance of sorts is taking place in Georgia, along with some other parts of the South, to reinvent the dishes that have fed area residents for years. Amid the gentle chaos of shaking up old ways, graduates of Georgia culinary schools might find their way into innovative kitchens that consider fresh ideas and enthusiasm more important than a great deal of traditional experience.
Alongside the stimulating creativity of New Southern Cuisine, Georgia also provides a year-round growing season and a respect for local ingredients that goes back to before the word "locavore" was even a glimmer in a food writer's thesaurus. Chefs with an eye toward keeping it local can choose from more than a hundred farmers markets in cities and country towns all over the state, and an organization called Georgia Organics offers workshops and farm-to-table resources for conscientious eaters, chefs and establishments.
Georgia residents have great respect for food, and a culinary education can train aspiring chefs to serve it up in a way that matches local traditions with modern appetites. Culinary schools in Georgia can help transform a passion for good food into the career of a lifetime.
"Georgia History: Overview," The New Georgia Encyclopedia, The Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press, James C. Cobb & John C. Inscoe, , January 12, 2011, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3729
"Southern Cooking," Le Cordon Bleu, Culinary Central, June 29, 2010, http://www.chefs.edu/Student-Life/Culinary-Central/June-2010/Southern-Cooking
"Regional Barbecue Styles," Blue Sage Gourmet Eatery, 2011, http://www.bluesage.ca/regional_barbecue_styles.html
"Shrimps and Grits Festival," The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival, Jekyll Island Visitor Information Center, 2013, http://www.shrimpandgritsfestival.com/
"Lardcore: Southern Food with Hard-Core Attitude," Time Magazine, Josh Ozersky, October 27, 2010, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2027672,00.html
"Community Farmers Markets," Georgia Department of Agriculture, 2011, http://agr.georgia.gov/community-farmers-markets.aspx
"About Us," Georgia Organics, 2012, http://georgiaorganics.org/about-us/
For information on Culinary Schools in Georgia, please visit any school below and request more information.