You batter believe it Non-foodies probably associate the term "hush puppies" with the shoe brand, which has a sad-eyed basset hound on its logo. Food lovers know they are a deep-fried snack made from thick cornmeal batter.

A speciality of America's southern states, they supposedly got their name because they could be made quickly and thrown to hungry dogs, to quieten them down ("hush, puppy"). They're also a good snack for hungry, whining children.

While at university in California, I had a classmate who looked forward to visits from his parents, from Georgia, not because he missed them but because they would bring him barbecued meats and hush puppies from his favourite shop.

I found out later that they are usually an accompaniment to fried catfish. But while I liked my friend's barbecued meats, I was less enamoured with the hush puppies. It wasn't until I learned to make them that I started to like them.

Mix cornmeal with flour, egg, buttermilk, baking soda, salt, pepper and chilli powder. I also like to add grated cheddar cheese and chopped, pickled jalapeños. The batter should be thick and stiff. Scoop spoonfuls of it into hot oil (about 180 degrees Celsius) and fry them until medium brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with barbecued meats or fried fish.