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Recipes and Stories

26 February 2018: In Defense of Southern Cooking III

Buttermilk Biscuits are as Southern as it gets, and yet historically, they weren't a part of all the old cuisines of the South

The Historical Cuisines

The loose regions into which the South has historically been divided, for the most part, follow the patterns of European colonization. They are: the Old South, the Atlantic coast from Maryland to North Florida; the Deep South, incorporating the Gulf states from West Georgia and the Florida panhandle to Eastern Texas; the Mountain South of Appalachia, including the Western portions of Virginia, the Carolinas, and northern edges of piedmont Georgia and Alabama as well as the interior states of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky; and the Central South, which includes parts of the “border states” of Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia as well as Arkansas, Eastern Oklahoma and North-east Texas.

You must understand that those loose regional boundaries are very loose indeed.  Read More 

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26 January 2018: In Defense Southern Cooking, Part II

Country fried steak with onion gravy as it’s done in my kitchen and was done in my grandmothers’ kitchens. The variations on this dish across the South’s many cuisines are staggering.

Beginning to Define the Cuisine(s) or, the Tip of the Iceberg

The most useful fact to know in attempting to define Southern cooking is the same one Marcella Hazan addressed of her own native cooking in The Classic Italian Cook Book: “The first useful thing to know about Italian cooking is that, as such, it actually doesn’t exist.”

She goes on to explain that cooking in Italy varies from region to region and from town to town within those regions, so “Italian cooking” isn’t a single cuisine, but a collection of many.

Likewise, the most useful thing to know about Southern Cooking “is that, as such, it actually doesn’t exist.” As is true for Italian cooking, it also is not, and never has been, a single, homogenous cuisine. Read More 

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12 January 2018: In Defense of Southern Cooking, Part I

Fresh Collard Greens

One day around the new year, when pots of collards and field peas were simmering away in so many Southern kitchens, a discussion arose among some of my colleagues about the frequency with which collards seemed to be turning up on so many so-called “new” Southern restaurant menus, and of how these greens were mostly being used and presented in ways that had nothing to do with Southern cooking.

The nicest thing one could say of most of these misbegotten things is that they’re bewildering. Read More 

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