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Meet Pawpaw for Dinner Tonight at Savoy

Pawpaw: Opening near youPhotos: iStockphoto.com/Sigler; iStockphoto.com/Melbedggood

There are some southern specialties all the world loves, as our guide to local gulf-shrimp dishes makes clear. But some of these regional foods rarely make it past the Mason-Dixon line. Tonight, New Yorkers get the chance to sample an obscure treat: pawpaw, a large, tasty fruit, used in a variety of dishes. Savoy is hosting the second annual Betsy Lydon Slow Food Ark USA Award dinner. (Appropriately enough, the name's a real mouthful.) Southern preparations like rabbit burgoo and Kentucky ham will complement pawpaw daiquiris and ice cream, as well as other recipes made with North America's native tropical fruits. (The dinner, which costs $150, including tax and tip, starts at 6:30 p.m.)

In honor of the pawpaw, here's our list of five of the most delicious southern foods you'll find in New York.

1. Pan-fried chicken, Charles' Southern Style Kitchen.
North Carolina's fried-chicken virtuoso puts deep-fryers to shame with his immense pan, the soul-food equivalent of Yo-Yo Ma's cello.

2. Country bacon, RUB.
Pitmaster Scotty Smith cures and smokes Berkshire pork bellies in-house, following a custom cure suggested by Allan Benton of Tennessee.

3. Chitterlings, Amy Ruth's Home-Style Southern Cuisine.
Some of the best intestines you'll ever put in your intestines.

4. Gumbo, Natchez*.
Not the fabled "seventh ward" gumbo of New Orleans, but an intense Creole rendition nonetheless, thick with andouilles and duck.

5. Scrapple, Telepan.
Chef Bill Telepan's no more southern than we are. Still, this block of pig parts cooked up with cornmeal recalls the work of Pan Pan's Ben Barrow, New York's previous sultan of scrapple.

* Correction, September 25, 2006: Natchez is actually closed. Also, the fruit pictured is not pawpaw (Asimina triloba) but rather papaya (Carica papaya). The two are frequently confused, but an image of pawpaw can be found here.

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