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Mississippi Savor

From the region’s deep French roots as part of the Louisiana Purchase to its generations-old tradition of hot tamales and today’s trends of farm-to-table cuisine and barbecue, Mississippi offers group culinary experiences to showcase each era of its history.

Hot Tamale Trail


Corn-husk-wrapped tamales are a staple at Mexican restaurants, but in the Mississippi Delta, locals have put their own spin on this classic dish over the past 100 years. Some say tamale culture has always been present in the Delta, dating back to the Native American Mississippian culture; others trace it to the confluence of Mexican farmhands and African-American sharecroppers in the early 20th century.

Though the exact origins of the Mississippi hot tamale, also known as the a “red hot,” due to the color the corn exterior picks up during cooking, remain unknown, the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) has collected the oral history of this tradition to create a Hot Tamale Trail and accompanying app: SFA Stories.

Today, no two tamale-makers use the same formula, and many recipes remain closely guarded family secrets for generations.

“In the Delta, a tamale recipe is really like money in the bank,” said Amy Evans, oral historian for the SFA. Along the trail, groups can try pork-, beef- and even turkey-filled tamales, with some of the most famous being the brisket-filled red hots made by three generations of Scott women at Scott’s Hot Tamales in Greenville. Each October, the city also hosts the Delta Hot Tamale Festival, where groups can sample tamales from all the top producers in one place.

Farmer’s Table Cooking School


From the hyperlocally sourced ingredients to executive chef Matthew Sheeter’s pedigree working in top Southern culinary settings, the Farmer’s Table cooking school in Livingston gives groups one of the most laser-focused Southern cooking experiences in Mississippi.

Using ingredients sourced from his own farm, including hydroponic produce to ensure things stay fresh in the winter, Sheeter offers groups of up to 20 hands-on cooking classes and groups of up to 32 demonstration cooking classes that range from one and a half to three hours and cover foods from fresh spring pasta to the ultimate steak, grilled pizza or cedar-planked salmon.

“Private groups can go online and look at all the different menus we have and say, ‘We like this or that,’ and we cater the menu to exactly what they want,” said general manager Bridget Engle. “For demo classes, we do a lot of pasta, but we’ve also partnered with St. Dominic’s to do a heart-healthy class.”

Before founding Farmer’s Table, Sheeter grew up raising livestock on a farm in Ohio; graduated from top culinary school Johnson and Wales in Charleston, South Carolina; worked in the distinguished resorts of Kiawah Island, South Carolina; and managed the Viking Range’s cooking schools in Atlanta and Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.