When in Tennessee, do as Tennesseans do: slather a slice of country ham in red-eye gravy, throw back a glass of Jack Daniel’s or dig into a plate of Memphis dry-rub barbecue.
Take a big ole bite out of a tantalizing fruit-filled fried pie -- and we don’t mean the McDonald’s kind. Tennesseans have been wrapping apples, peaches and berries in pie crust and deep-frying it for years, and they know how to do it right.
No Southern meal is complete without a glass of sweet tea. Iced tea sweetened with plenty of sugar is standard in the South, so consider this your warning if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.
First invented at Chattanooga Bakery, moon pies are a Tennessee tradition. In the 1950s stores began selling moon pies and RC Cola together. The combination was the inspiration for the ’50s hit “Gimme an RC Cola and a Moon Pie,” as well as the annual RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival.
Country ham is arguably Tennessee’s most famous delicacy. The hams are salt-cured and served boiled, broiled or fried, and give Virginia’s Smithfield hams a run for their money.
Tennesseans also love their fried catfish, a popular Southern specialty that’s often served with hush puppies -- little balls of fried cornmeal.
An Appalachian specialty, stack cake is made of thin layers of cake with an apple filling between each. Legend has it that the cakes were originally a wedding tradition -- guests would each bring a layer, and the number of layers represented the popularity of the bride.
The official fruit of Tennessee, tomatoes grow particularly well in the state’s soil and sun.
You can’t visit Tennessee without a big ole plate of Memphis barbecue, distinctive for its flavorful dry rub rather than the usual messy sauce.
Tennessee is also home to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey; the famous spirit has been distilled and bottled in Lynchburg, TN, since 1875.
Bush’s Original Baked Beans also have their roots in Tennessee, but don’t bother asking for the recipe -- it has remained a closely-guarded family secret since the 1930s.
The perfect accompaniment to Tennessee country ham is a spread of biscuits and red-eye gravy -- a sauce made from a mixture of ham drippings and coffee.