While summer isn’t technically over, the beginning of fall is creeping around the corner. In Georgia, this may not mean too much of a temperature change, but it does mean that fall foods will soon start appearing on dinner tables and restaurant menus. Southern cooking doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to making delicious food, no matter the season, but do you know the history behind some of your favorite autumn treats?
Warm and traditional, pecan pie graces the plates of families for fall dessert and has been doing so for at least a hundred years. Arguably, no pie other than apple is as American as pecan pie. Pecans are native to the southern United States, and for us Georgians they are a household staple. The earliest known recipe for pecan pie hails from Texas in the late 1800’s, though it wasn’t popularized until the creation of Karo syrup (corn syrup). While the specific origins of the pie are mixed, there is no doubt that the buttery crust and sugary crackle are a fan favorite. We suggest serving your pie warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving the pumpkin spice latte and honestly it gets a lot more controversy than it deserves. Yummy notes of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg in a cup? Sounds good to us. While practically synonymous with Starbucks, the pumpkin spice latte holds its ground as one of the most popular fall drinks. Debuting in 2003, the PSL ® by Starbucks originally had no pumpkin…rather it had orange dye and artificial flavor. Now made with real pumpkin (though it doesn’t technically taste any different) the latte flavor shows up on the menu every year. It’s made its way into things such as candles and soaps too.
Nothing yells comfort like the center of a cinnamon roll. Did you know that the cinnamon in this sweet treat is native to Sri Lanka? While it’s commonly found around the globe now, this high demand spice was at the center of skirmishes throughout history. Now we use it for everything from cake dusting to home aromas. Cinnamon rolls are commonly eaten for both breakfast and dessert, often with an icing or cream cheese frosting to accompany it. Something about that warm cinnamon taste makes it a great fall dessert. The food itself has roots in Dutch and Swedish origins, where it is the “kanelbulle”. Sweden and Finland observe “Kanelbullens Dag” or National Cinnamon Bun Day to pay homage to this dessert in October. Many other varieties of cinnamon buns are baked across Europe, as well as Canada too.
Mac N Cheese
If you thought we were going to go through this list without bringing up mac n cheese, you were mistaken. It may not be considered solely a “fall food”, but it’s bound to be at every tailgate, gameday and dinner. Whether you bake it, brown it or bread crumb it…it’s always showing up at family gatherings, fall nights or random lunches. What’s not to love? Macaroni and Cheese, if you want to call it by its formal name, is a comfort food. While we have the Italians to thank for pasta, Mac N Cheese has been in the United States since the 1700’s. It was actually introduced to Thomas Jefferson on a trip to Paris, and he had it imported for years. If mac n cheese is a comfort food for you, head to your local bbq and southern food joints.
Sweet Potato Pie
For some, mistaking a sweet potato pie for pumpkin is a wonderful surprise and for others it is a disappointment. Whichever side you may land on, there’s no doubt that this orange pie deserves a place at the table. Not to be confused with sweet potato casserole (but, also yum!), this pie has origins in the African-American community in the South. For many, this particular pie has cultural significance in recipes passed down generations. But before that, it can actually be traced back to King Henry VIII who demanded sweet potato tarts at his table. Who woulda thought?
While this fruit might not be a fall food by itself, it’s certainly the building block of many of our favorites. Candy apples. Apple cobbler. Apple cider. Apple with your turkey, your pie, your autumn this and thats. Apples are actually native to Asia, the apple and its fruit ancestors have been around for 10,000 years! The apple is also a widely culturally significant fruit, showing up in mythologies from all around the world. An apple a day will not keep a doctor away, but it will make for a great snack. We recommend hitting up those local produce stands, spots and farms.
Did you know that corn cobs always have an even number of rows? It’s also one of the world’s most distributed crops. Corn was introduced to the Europeans by Native Americans, who domesticated maize in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. Originally, this wild grass looked nothing like the corn we know today. Modern day corn is a cultigen, it requires human propagation and production. Perhaps the only food on this list that is not always used for eating, corn fields play a major role in fall festivals, corn mazes and harvest celebrations alike. Get your fall on at one of Gwinnett’s many corn mazes!