The Delta Region
Juke Joints, Hot Tamales & Mississippi Catfish
You don’t forget your first descent into the Delta. Whether you take the back roads from Hernando on Highway 304 or Highway 61 from Memphis or Walls: one minute your car winds through the tree-dotted landscapes of the hills and the next it levels out into flat farmland as far as the eye can see. As diverse as the crops that grow here and the music that made it famous, the Mississippi Delta is a melting pot of cultures – from African to Italian to Asian – the people here make this part of the state different from any other. And in no place is the Delta’s diversity more apparent than in its restaurants. Each dish is a prime example of how delicious histories fuse together for the ultimate culinary experience.
One such example is the hot tamale, called so because of its orangey-red color and spicy taste. Its origins began around the turn of the 20th century when migrant Hispanic laborers worked in the fields during fall cotton picking season alongside African-American hired hands. A cornmeal mixture called "masa" encased the meat inside, keeping it insulated. This ensured a warm lunch for hungry workers at lunchtime.