Near the center of the state, Jackson is Mississippi's capital and largest city. Named for Andrew Jackson, the city is today a leading educational and medical center. Rich with history and vibrant with arts and cultural experiences, Jackson provides visitors with experiences that range from public art displays to civil rights museums to fine-dining restaurants to world class golf and equine events.
Southern home-style cooking is featured in most of Mississippi. Originally a colonial adaptation of English cooking, the classic recipes have picked up some Creole and African-American influences over the years. Be sure to have biscuits, grits and gravy for breakfast, fresh vegetables (such as fried corn, snap beans, purple-hull peas, okra and mustard greens), cornbread, boiled peanuts, hush puppies (balls of fried cornmeal), real Southern barbecue (mostly pork, but some beef) and the many recipes for chicken, from fried to stewed to fricasseed.
Throughout the state, you'll see catfish farms, where the bewhiskered bottom-dwellers are raised in large quantities. Many of the farms have a catch-your-own policy, which can be an entertaining experience for someone who's never hooked a big old cat (but watch those dorsal spines—they can give you a nasty sting). In the Mississippi Delta region, fried catfish and chitterlings (made from pig intestines) is a favorite local dish.
The influence of Louisiana's Creole cooking has spread all along the Gulf Coast, making it possible to get a decent cup of gumbo, beignets, cafe au lait, Cajun-style fries and po'boys (a submarine or hero sandwich often filled with fried seafood). The Natchitoches, a sandwich named after the city in Louisiana, can also be found (it's finely ground pork with finely chopped onions and chives deep-fried in a kind of pastry shell/bread). Buffet-style dining is popular throughout the state.
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