The one pie that is probably close to 'as southern' as the pecan pie, is the the chess pie. In my part of the south, it was probably served much more often, mainly because pecans do not grow here and were not always plentiful like in so many of the deeper south states. Even without the pecans, this pie is very rich and a small slice will do for most people.
There are a lot of theories about why it's called chess pie, but no one knows for sure. Some think because it is similar to the English lemon curd pie which they called a 'cheese pie', minus the lemon and the cheese, so this pie became known as chess pie. That seems to be a stretch to me. Another theory is that gentlemen would retire to the parlor after dinner to play chess and have this pie. I don't think that works either. Then there is the one that theorizes that back in the day of slavery, the cooks would be asked what was for dessert and they would say 'jes pie'...that one might work. The last one is that this pie is so sweet it will keep in a pie chest or safe for a few days without ruining and was therefore called a 'chest pie' and with the southern accents, later called a Chess Pie. That one works for me best. It could be any or none of these.
I always remember my great great aunt making this pie and it seemed like she made it at least once a week. She baked every week day (not weekends) of every week that I can remember. Can you imagine baking that much? I can't and I cook a lot...especially now. Here is what you need for this pie:
1 unbaked 9" pie shell
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. cornmeal
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup half and half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place the unbaked pie shell on a cookie sheet. Pour the mixture in the shell and carefully place in the oven on the center rack.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until slightly browned (don't over brown). Remove and cool before serving.