"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > Breads, Pizza & Sandwiches
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-14-2011, 11:47 AM   #1
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Galena, IL
Posts: 7,973
Food History Question

Does anyone know why the southern states have more of a rich history of quick breads (cornbread, biscuits) rather than yeast? Oh, I know there are exceptions, but when you think of southern food, cornbread and biscuits are what you think of rather than a loaf of bread. Is it something ethnic, or is there something in the climate that makes it hard to do a yeast bread, or was the baking time too long to want to have an oven that hot for that long, or .... what?

__________________

__________________
Claire is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 12:38 PM   #2
Executive Chef
 
Selkie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,796
Biscuits are very common to all regions and not predominantly a southern thing. The south has simply made a cult following of the combination for biscuits and gravy. It's a quick, inexpensive and easy breakfast for farm workers, and keeps a person satisfied until dinner (lunch).

On the native front, the Indian tribes from Mexico brought corn up from the south, but because of racial prejudice, foods fit for Indians wasn't fit for whites, so corn was generally shunned by westerners except as livestock feed until well after the Civil War. The way to the west was through the south, so imports arrived through there first, and that included foods such as corn and chilis.

Up through the 1860s slaves would hand grind it to make corn cakes, a food similar to what they had while in West Africa. As for cornbread, until the turn of the twentieth century, corn was grown to use as animal feed. Only the poorest of the poor actually ate corn in any form. You would never find it on the dining table of a "proper" household.

Once cornmeal became commercially available in large amounts instead of just whole ears or shelled, the discovery of cornbread as an inexpensive staple became popular.

Cheap food that's high in calories drove the southern markets.
__________________

__________________
"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard
Selkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 01:04 PM   #3
Master Chef
 
Kayelle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: south central coast/California
Posts: 9,897
This place continues to amaze me. I learn answers to questions I didn't even think of having.
__________________
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.

Kayelle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 01:16 PM   #4
Ogress Supreme
 
PrincessFiona60's Avatar
Site Administrator
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 36,308
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
This place continues to amaze me. I learn answers to questions I didn't even think of having.
We all learn when someone asks a question.

Thank you for asking, Claire and thank you, Selkie for answering.
__________________
PrincessFiona60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 03:38 PM   #5
Master Chef
 
Aunt Bea's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: near Mount Pilot
Posts: 7,009
During the Civil War wheat flour was hard to get in the south due to shipping blockades from the north. This also contributed to a shift in eating habits.

Selkies comments about cornmeal also are part of the reason that white cornmeal is used by many instead of yellow.
__________________
Aunt Bea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 04:01 PM   #6
Master Chef
 
Kayelle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: south central coast/California
Posts: 9,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
During the Civil War wheat flour was hard to get in the south due to shipping blockades from the north. This also contributed to a shift in eating habits.

Selkies comments about cornmeal also are part of the reason that white cornmeal is used by many instead of yellow.
Another interesting tid bit!!
__________________
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.

Kayelle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 06:40 PM   #7
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Uncle Bob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Small Town Mississippi
Posts: 17,394
Very good question(s) Clair...Questions that cannot be answered in a few short sentences as the answers span hundred of years of history as well as regional experiences. Heck, a whole book could be devoted to just...”Biscuits” Here are some Tid-Bits I picked up from several historical resources...


Native American Indians had been growing, and eating corn in various forms for centuries when the Europeans fist came ashore early in the 1600’s. ~ Job one for these settlers was procuring/growing, preparing, and preserving various foods. Their very lives depended on it,... and the staple crop absolutely essential to survival was...Corn.
Although they raised vegetable gardens in season, hunted plentiful game, and fished abundant waters, in times of need these and other products were traded in order to obtain...Corn. It was used to make everything from...Bread to whiskey. Corn has been a staple grain/food product in the American diet from our earliest history.

The Europeans brought flours (wheat, barley and rye) and the knowledge and expertise to grow, harvest, and mill the grains into flour to produce various breads ~ As early as 1610 there were water powered grist mills in Maine and Nova Scotia ~ In 1612 there were wind powered mills in Jamestown Virginia...Soon every town, settlement, or large farm, North or South had grist mills to produce flours and cornmeal ~ White breads were not the only breads baked by the European Colonist....One favorite, especially in the North was brown bread commonly referred to as a rye or Indian bread.... Corn Pone and Johnny Cakes made from corn were very popular items fit for Colonial tables.

Here’s a recipe you may find interesting and fun to try

George Washington’s Favorite Corn Cakes
(1732-1799)

2 Cups of Stone Ground Cornmeal
1/1/2 Cups Warm Water
½ teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Egg
Oil or lard to grease the griddle
Honey & Butter

Mix 1 Cup of the Cornmeal, and the yeast into 1 ½ Cups of luke warm water. Stir well, cover tightly and leave it out on the counter overnight. The next morning stir in the salt, egg, and remaining Cornmeal. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. More water can be added to thin the batter if needed.... Heat fat on a medium hot griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with honey and butter....

According to Nelly Custis, the youngest grand-daughter of former First Lady Martha Washington, the first President’s morning routine included, rising before sun up...reading and writing until about 7:00 AM or so, then eating three or four of these Corn Cakes “swimming in butter and honey”.. I’m sure most folks would consider Mount Vernon a “proper” household.

Sometimes I think foods that are thought of as “Southern” are more Rural American’ in scope than anything else.........
__________________
There is only one Quality worse than Hardness of Heart, and that is Softness of Head.

Kool-Aid...Think Before You Drink
Uncle Bob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 06:48 PM   #8
Executive Chef
 
Selkie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,796
Here's some additional information if you're interested:

Jonnycake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I like this kind of stuff...
__________________
"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard
Selkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #9
Master Chef
 
Aunt Bea's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: near Mount Pilot
Posts: 7,009
Uncle Bob is right when he says this topic cannot be covered in a few lines.

One book on the subject called Cornbread Nation by John Thorn covers a great deal of information on southern foodways. He also has done one that I believe is simply called Pig. They are very interesting and not very expensive.
__________________
Aunt Bea is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2011, 07:38 PM   #10
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Uncle Bob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Small Town Mississippi
Posts: 17,394
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea
During the Civil War wheat flour was hard to get in the south due to shipping blockades from the north. This also contributed to a shift in eating habits.
Aunt Bea every time I "hear" someone say 'Civil War' I have to remind them there was nothing "Civil" about it....600,000+ Americans lost there lives in that conflict...Anyway the more appropriate term is "The War For Southern Independence" or "The War of Northern Aggression"
__________________

__________________
There is only one Quality worse than Hardness of Heart, and that is Softness of Head.

Kool-Aid...Think Before You Drink
Uncle Bob is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
food

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Discuss Cooking on Facebook

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.