11 of 15
Country Ham is distinctive because it's cured by rubbing with salt instead of a liquid brine. Then it's smoked. The result is much denser and more flavorful than the ready-to-eat hams we're accustomed to…and it's divine sliced thinly and served on biscuits. Country ham isn't exclusive to Tennessee by any means, but there are highly regarded producers throughout the state, and it's a food that Tennesseans use with pride and love.
Lou Stejskal CC BY
12 of 15
Bush's Beans has a visitor's center where you can realize your lifelong dream of walking through a giant facsimile of a bean can. The company was founded in Chestnut Hill in 1908 and began as a tomato cannery, but branched out into fruits and vegetables later on. During World War II, Bush's canned pork and beans for the troops. Their baked beans weren't added to their product line until 1969.
13 of 15
Dinah Shore (1916-1994) was a singer, actress, and television host. Born in Winchester, Tennessee to Jewish-Russian immigrants, she established herself as a vocalist in Nashville before embarking on a long career as a big band singer. But millions of Americans knew her from her weekday television talk shows, which often featured segments of her cooking with her guests (she made spaghetti with Frank Sinatra and pie with Ann-Margaret). Shore's Tennessee roots were a strong influence in her personal cooking, and she published several highly successful cookbooks. Shore's popularity and easygoing manner made her a television cooking personality before there really was such a thing.
14 of 15
Museum of Appalachia: Experience America's agrarian past and Tennessee's Appalachian heritage at this living history museum in Clinton. The grounds recreate a working pioneer farm, and create a context of understanding for how food production was an integrated way of family and community life. Experience various aspects of Appalachian history, music, and crafts in the 63-acre complex with 30 historic buildings.
15 of 15
Nashville Hot Chicken is hot indeed right now. The fried chicken specialty is distinctive because right after frying it's lightly finished with a slurry of hot grease and dried ground chilies, and is served on a slice of white bread with pickle chips as a foil for its fiery character. What was once a regional delight is now a novelty inspiring hot chicken eateries as far away as Columbus, Ohio. Even KFC recently got in on the action by adding hot chicken to their menu. Purists in Nashville can take heart in the Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition, which "was created to provide a platform for the education about this uniquely-Nashville food, while also furthering the cause of Nashville Hot Chicken." And is there a Hot Chicken Festival? Oh yes.
Sean Russell CC BY-SA