A Taste of the South

Franklin’s Food Tour

The city of Franklin was founded in 1799 and is steeped in history. Because of its deep southern roots and antiquated past, Franklin opens itself up to endless possibilities when it comes to tourism. And a large part of that history and tourism is food. Southern food as we know it today is influenced by West African, West European, and Native-American cultures. Popular dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, grits, and cornbread were adopted regionally and are now a staple in southern culture. Many tourists find opportunities to experience this unique cuisine. While it can now be found in almost any city, it is safe to say that southern food just doesn’t taste the same anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line.

People come from all over to tour the city and experience its culture and sophistication. Margie Thessin, owner of Franklin on Foot Tours, appreciates the rich history of Franklin and began giving tours as a way for people to experience the city at its finest. Fairly recently, Thessin added food tours to the itinerary and has been educating visitors on the deliciousness that is southern cuisine. Franklin on Foot began in 2003 and offers many options such as civil war,
ghost, and history tours. In 2012, the southern food tour began as a way to familiarize participants with authentic southern cuisine.

The tour has seven to eight participating restaurants, including Gray’s on Main, Grilled Cheeserie, and Biscuit Love. They also visit Kilwins Ice Cream and Fudge, Savory Spice Shop, and Merridee’s Breadbasket. All restaurants offer a taste of southern food fare like fried green tomatoes, gumbo, pimento cheese, and BBQ. Organizing food tours for the last seven years, Thessin has been able to share her knowledge of food with the community and the many tourists that visit Franklin. She shares, “I love to meet people, people from all over the world. I have enough time to get to know them and have conversations through eating, walking, and
talking.”

According to the Franklin on Foot website, the portions at each stop are generous and each participant leaves with a more detailed knowledge of southern-style cuisine. The tour is generally able to accommodate food allergies or dietary restrictions as needed. Gray’s on Main, Grilled Cheeserie, and Biscuit Love offer vegetarian and gluten- free items on their regular menus and can accommodate some food allergies as well. The food tour runs Monday-Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00pm and is $49.00 per person.

The participants get to sample food at four of the participating restaurants. The experience does not include alcohol but it can be purchased separately throughout the tour. Other libations such as tea, soft drinks, and water are included in the price of the ticket. For visitors, the tour is a great option if they want to sample different types of southern food that they may have not tried before. As Thessin says, “The theme of the tour is southern food- because this is a style of food that is just not done as well outside of the south.” So for many, the tour is an introduction to a new type of food and an increased appreciation of southern culture and cuisine.