As we put together our menu here at The Square, we often look to our childhood memories of growing up with great Southern cooks, and also to the exotic food cultures we've experienced in travel. When researching the history of Southern favorites, we've found again and again that the South's cuisine was influenced by African traditions more often than not. Even on our current menu, delicious African influence can be found & enjoyed!
Take for instance the beloved Boiled Peanut. What could be more traditional & Southern than a boiled peanut, right? What Georgia kid didn't grow up shelling hot boiled peanuts as fast as we could on hot summer afternoons? But peanuts didn't arrive in the USA via African transplants until the 1700s, and were thought of as food for livestock & poor folks for a hundred more years. The old-fashioned peanut nickname "goober" is a derivative of the Angolan term "ginguba." Africans had been boiling peanuts and other groundnuts for centuries, both for flavor, and preservation. During the Civil war, peanuts became more popular and accepted as a healthy, high protein staple of the battlefield and then the kitchen. At The Square, our Boiled Peanut Hummus has become a staple of its own. But even Hummus, which seems so modern, would have been found on the plates of medieval Egyptians.
Another traditionally Southern dish that we have inherited from Africa is Gumbo. The very word "Gumbo", which brings to mind that classic bayou stew of rice, veggie, and meat, is derived from the Angolan word "ngombo," which simply means "okra." (Okra, by the way, is another plant & word of African origin!) Of course, the Cajuns have added their own French flair & andouille sausage to the dish; but you do not have to look hard to find the Motherland's influence in this dish. Though there are as many ways to make Gumbo as their are Southern cooks, Gumbo here in Moultrie is roux based. And yes, you'll find okra as a thickener in your Gumbo at The Square.