March Madness may be over, but there’s still one heated bracket challenge underway–and the contenders have names like cornbread and country fried steak.
If you’re not a college basketball fan—or not one anymore since your bracket was absolutely busted by this year’s tournament results—then Garden & Gun magazine’s Ultimate Southern Food Bracket may offer you a burst of hope after a month of upheaval.
The showdown of Southern staples is just entering its final four, so there’s still time to vote for your top dish from the selection of cornbread, country fried steak, Hoppin’ John (a Southern stew) and beignets.
But be warned, it was probably easier to make your basketball picks this year. Seriously, how do you choose between cornbread and beignets?
Some of the first round match-ups in the Cajun/Creole region were especially difficult. Beignets ended up advancing against fried catfish, and I can’t argue with that. Then they faced and defeated the oyster po’boy and then outdid gumbo as well. See what I mean? The picks were definitely not easy, and now they’re especially tough as they duke it out in the last round.
Match-ups in other regions were just as difficult. Pulled pork and okra faced up in the barbecue region’s first round. And once again I ask, how can you choose between the two? Then again, the collard greens vs. mac & cheese was a pretty easy pick—at least for me.
Unlike basketball, dishes advance based on the popular vote, which can be a little easier to predict. When I voted, my picks went the way of the (overwhelming) majority with mac & cheese over pulled pork and shrimp and grits over soft shell crab. I ended up being in the majority until Hoppin’ John beat out shrimp and grits.
The two finalists from each region—the elite eight, ahem ate, if you will—were announced Monday, March 26 through Thursday, March 29. Garden & Gun then unveiled its final four Monday, April 2, the same day Kentucky cut down the NCAA nets.
Now with the final four decided, there’s another delicious match-up to look forward to on April 9 when the last remaining dishes will face off for the title of the Ultimate Southern Food.