Southern Cuisine Cruisin' the Natural State
calls it "foodie tourism." The state of West Virginia refers to it as "cuisine culture." Travel writers Michael and Jane Stern have named it "Road Food." Whatever it's called, it's the same basic premise: people who plan their vacations and trips around food. It can be a trip to Vermont's dairy trail for artisanal cheese, Napa Valley for wine, or Hershey, Pennsylvania for chocolate. Whatever the food lure, it plays an important role in how people travel today.
In Arkansas, we have a bit of everything. We have must-visit restaurants plus we have food-oriented attractions. Food-based festivals? Well, that's a whole 'nother topic because we have plenty of those as well. If you're traveling on account of cuisine, you may be wondering, "What are some things a foodie would eat in Arkansas?"
Just about every type of cuisine is available in The Natural State. The state's Southern heritage, not to mention its agricultural background, influences much of the Southern cuisine that can be found here. But not every thing is fried. Healthy alternatives are readily available, many made from locally grown produce. Nouvelle cuisine has a home here as well, as does continental, Cajun, vegetarian and various ethnic choices.
What exactly is Southern cuisine? The first word that probably comes to most people's mind is fried. But it's more than that—much, much more. It's comfort food—food that reminds you of Sunday dinner at your grandmother's house. Food that makes you feel good. Recipes that have names you can pronounce made with ingredients you keep on hand.
Old Fashioned Bread Pudding with Almond Sauce
Ozark Folk Center Fried Pies
Gaston's Grilled Trout Special Recipe
Cliff House Company's Comin' Pie
Cotham's Fried Green Tomatoes
Dondie's White River Princess Hushpuppies
The Best Ever "Sweet Tea"
Shadden's BBQ Sauce
If a product grows in Arkansas, then chances are good someone somewhere has planned a festival or special event around it. Rice, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, purplehull peas, grapes, wine - these are just some of the foodstuffs that are celebrated in The Natural State. But that's not all. Other types of food such as ducks, chickens, turkeys and eggs are also feted here.
Cheeseburger Mini Muffins
Spam Bowl Dip
Classic Chocolate Pie (First Place Winner)
Arkansas Food Products
Numerous food products are produced in Arkansas, including both growing them and manufacturing them. Rice, soybeans, wheat and poultry are top crops here. There are also peaches, tomatoes, watermelons and grapes. And then there are such products as Cavender's Greek Seasoning (Harrison), Andrews Candy Company (Arkadelphia), Petit Jean Meats (Morrilton), Ozark Mountain Smokehouse meats and cheeses (various locations), and Yarnell's Ice Cream (Searcy).