Fullwood 1Jared FullwoodMs. BennettBritish Literature8 September 2011 Southern Country Cooking Corn bread, fried chicken, okra, biscuits, black eyed peas, country fried steak, and gritsare foods associated with southern country cooking. “You see, theres nothing quite like wakinup to the smell of fresh baked biscuits. Or comin home to a Sunday supper of fried chicken,mashed potatoes, a mess o greens, cornbread and a big ol’ glass of sweet tea” (There’s more toSouthern Cooking than Recipes). Many different cultures influenced southern country cookinglike the Native Americans, African Americans, English, Scottish, and Cajuns. “Slavery andpoverty were historical factors that influenced the evolution of southern food” (There’s More toSouthern Cooking than Recipes). Things like the industrial revolution also had a lot to do withshaping southern food as it is today. “A medley of cultural influences from around the world hashelped make Southern food what it is today. At its core, Southern food is rooted in local andimported ingredients, necessity and frugality” (Winter). To people in the South, country cookingis more than just food, its tradition that has been passed down for generations. Native Americans greatly influenced Southern country cooking. The number one food
that Native Americans contributed to Southern country cooking was corn, as well as pumpkins,squash, beans and sassafras. “The greatest factor that affected life for these settlers was theprocurement, preparation, and preservation of food and the staple crop absolutely essential tosurvival was corn” (“Origins of Southern Food”). The women learned to process corn in order tomake several types of bread, including hoe cakes and cornbread. “The immigrants could not havesurvived without the instruction and assistance of American Indians, who had mastered hunting,planting, and food processing in this environment long before the Europeans arrived” (“Originsof Southern Food”). The Native Americans gave the Southern settlers cooking knowledge,taught them to dry meats and vegetables, and showed how to make jerky and preserves. African Americans also greatly influenced Southern country cooking. The African slaveswho cooked and served generations were the primary creators of southern cooking. “The firstmajor change in the African diet was the result of the Middle Passage and the slave traders.Many slaves experienced malnutrition while on the ships because the traders did not provide abalanced diet and often did not even carry with them enough food to last the entire trip. While onthe trip the slaves subsisted mainly on portions of yams, rice and grains” (“Origins of SouthernFood”). When looking back at how African Americans influenced southern country cooking,what they ate throughout history and what they were eating at the time they came to Americaisthe direct influence. “On the plantations the slave diet was sparse and depended a great deal uponprovisions provided by the master” (“Origins of Southern Food”). Many foods like field peas,okra, eggplant, collard greens, peanuts and yams are all native African foods and became anintegral part of the diet in the South. “When slave trade began in the 1600’s, thousands ofAfricans were forced to move from their homes and their common foods. In the New World,they had to use what they were given, and many new recipes developed. This adaptation showed
Fullwood 3in their recipes and their cooking” (“History of Soul Food”). The Scottish greatly influenced southern cooking. Fried Chicken actually originated intwo cultures, Scottish and African. “The Scots had a tradition of deep-frying chicken in fat.Scottish immigrants came to the South where African slaves had already introduced a tradition offrying food. Over time, deep-frying became a common way of cooking chicken and other food”(Winter). The Scottish immigrants also brought pork to the southern states. “Livestock, mainlypigs and cattle, were raised in a manner adapted from the traditional husbandry practices ofScotland and Ireland, but livestock played a secondary role to wild game and beans as proteinsources and were used primarily as a bartering tool” (“Origins of Southern Food”). Cajun cooking is more of its own style of cooking, but Cajun cooking mostly comes fromLouisiana which is in the south so it still has influence. “Initially, all incoming Acadianimmigrants arrived in New Orleans. The Acadians newly settled into the river region soon founddifficulty in growing their familiar crops such as wheat, barley and oats. Additionally, turnipsand cabbage did not do well in Louisianas sweltering heat. Assistance from the Spanishgovernment came in the form of corn seed. The prairie was ideally suited for cattle, andsuccessful ranches were soon established in this region, providing New Orleans with muchdesired beef” (Origins of southern food, UWF). Cajun food is basically the poor cousin toCreole. Today it tends to be spicier than Creole, using regionally available resources and less ofthe foods gained through trade. Creole is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana whichblends French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Asian, Native American, and Africaninfluences, as well as general Southern cuisine and is very is similar to Cajun.
Sweet tea has been enjoyed by Southern families for generations. “Sweet tea is a long-time staple of the South. It is made with black tea and is always served cold. Sugar is addedwhile the tea is still hot; creating sugar syrup that is diffused throughout the tea” (Winter). Onereason sweet tea was popularized was prohibition, people needed a drink that tasted good andcould be made in quantity. “South Carolina is the first place in the United States where tea wasgrown and is the only state to ever have produced tea commercially. Most historians agree thatthe first tea plant arrived in this country in the late 1700s when French explorer and botanist,Andre Michaux imported it to suit the aesthetic and acquisitive desires of wealthy Charlestonplanters” (Stradley). Sweet tea was influenced largely by the Industrial Revolution with theinvention of the refrigerator because sweet tea, often referred to as iced tea, would be nothingwithout ice. The Industrial Revolution also had a lot to do with Southern country cooking. ”AtJamestown, Virginia, the European colonists relied on Old World technology to struggle againststarvation in the unfamiliar environment of the New World. Most tools were made of wood,which although primitive, was readily available, and allowed farmers to break up the virgin soil,cultivate, and harvest their crops with remarkable success. Spades, hoes, and mattocks were thechief instruments of the earliest farmers. In 1649, a census recorded only 150 plows in thecolony. The iron cooking pots of the seventeenth and eighteenth century kitchen were heavy anddid not cook foods evenly. Pots that hung over the wood fire in the hearth weighed as much astwenty-four pounds and their walls were more than one inch thick. Other kitchen utensils, forgedby the local blacksmith, were heavy and cumbersome in proportion to the big cauldrons”(“Origins of Southern Food”). Between 1830 and 1920, the industrial revolution rearranged theAmerican kitchen. New appliances changed the physical structure of the kitchen. “By the 1830s
Fullwood 5the iron range eliminated the need for a kitchen hearth; it was a movable, factory-made objectwhich could be placed anywhere. The root cellar, which was a necessity for food preservation,was replaced by the icebox by 1827. Individual dairy rooms and smokehouses were no longerneeded when mass-produced containers of tin or glass became available. The larder as a meatand fresh food storage room disappeared from homes by 1920. Any room piped with water andcooking fuel (gas after 1860, electricity after 1892) could be the kitchen. People quickly adoptednew materials such as aluminum, new sources of cooking fuel like gas and electricity, and betterforms of preservation in refrigeration, canning, and glass containers” (“Origins of SouthernFood”). So now southerners are cooking their cornbread in ovens instead of open fire. With newtechnology comes time for thinking of new ideas and new recipes. In conclusion, Southern country cooking was influenced by many different cultures andevents. African food had a major impact because of the slave trade in the Southern states. Otherfactors like poverty played a role because the workers need a lot of calories for the day but hadlittle money. The Native Americans taught them how to use corn to make cornbread and hoecakes. The Native Americans also they showed them how to preserve food so they could survivelong cold winters. Cajun cooking is also a major part of southern cooking with influence frommany different cultures around the world. Sweet tea became such a staple in the south becauseit’s fairly easy to make, cheap, and delicious. “Redeye gravy is made with pan drippings (usuallyfrom frying country ham) and leftover coffee” (Winter). The Industrial Revolution bringingstoves, refrigerators, and mass produced cooking utensils also greatly shaped Southern cooking.So no matter where you are from or what your background is, most everyone loves southerncountry cooking.
Works Cited1. “all recipes.” all recipes. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2010. <http://allrecipes.com//.aspx? WithTerm=Southern>.2. “Celebrating the South’s people, culture, history, and heritage.” know southern history. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.knowsouthernhistory.net///>.3. History of Soul Food. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2010. <http://www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com/Of-Soul-Food.asp>.4. “history of Southern Food.” best american food. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. <http://bestamericanfood.net/of-southern-food>.5. “Origins of southern food.” UWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://uwf.edu///.htm>.6.6. Soul food.” wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Aug. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org//_food>.7. There’s More to Southern Cooking Than Recipes. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. <http:// www.mamas-southern-cooking.com/>.8. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org//_of_the_Southern_United_States>.9. Winter, Richard. “Ultimate Guide to Southern Food.” TLC. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2009. <http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/ideas/food-facts/food2.htm>.