Since you’re in the south for a few days, I thought I would be helpful (I’m just that kind of Mom) and explain some of the cuisine you are likely to find south of the Mason-Dixon line.
First of all, you need to know about grits. IMHO, yum. Some people eat grits plain. Which is silly, because grits give a whole new meaning to the word “plain.” Add butter (and lots of it) and other stuff. Cheese. Cheese is good. Yum, yum.
Southerners also like fried. It doesn’t really matter what, although chicken is high on the list. So are green tomatoes. And catfish. And hushpuppies. Yum, yum.
Fried stuff is often served with a mess of greens. In the south, “mess” is a unit of measurement. Many people like greens. Your mother is not one of those people. Ditto on black-eyed peas.
Pies are a big deal. Chess pie [which is sort of custardy but contains no actual chess pieces or checkerboards], shoofly pie [which contains molasses but no actual flies], sweet potato pie [which does have sweet potatoes], and pecan pie.
Speaking of carbohydrates, biscuits are served all over the south. Eat them with butter, jam, honey, gravy, or go crazy and eat them by themselves.
Wash all of this Yum down with sweet tea. Sweet tea is iced tea that’s been sweetened. And it is The (non-alcoholic) drink of the south. If you insist on a carbonated beverage, recognize that “Coke” is the category as well as the specific beverage. Coke=pop=soda.