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502 pp.

$12.95 paper
ISBN 978-0-8078-4078-8

Published: Fall 1980

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Marion Brown's Southern Cook Book

by Marion Brown

Copyright (c) 1968, 1980 by the University of North Carolina Press. All rights reserved.

Preface

Cook books, like charity, usually begin at home, and The Southern Cook Book is no exception. When I started the adventure for the original book my first steps were to collect, test, and select an extensive collection of North Carolina recipes and cookery memorabilia which I had enlarged after having edited Soup to Nuts for the Woman's Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church of The Holy Comforter at Burlington. This led to a project to unearth local and regional cook books in all the Southern states in order to make a truly "all Southern" selection of the best recipes of the South. As the result of letters sent out by George Colcough, secretary of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, important Chambers of Commerce in every Southern state furnished me names of cook books and other information leading to the location of recipes. With the co-operation of other alert organizations, through public library facilities, newspaper contacts, radio officials, and interested individuals, I found hundreds of cook books and recipes.

To these I added recipes from hotels and restaurants with a tradition for fine Southern cuisine—thus refuting the idea that good Southern cooking is found only in the home. Finally I sought out the most difficult of all recipes to obtain—the guarded treasures of the Southern household. Here I must admit that despair and indignation often followed. Many generous persons, however, gave their most cherished recipes, and others persuaded friends to contribute theirs. Some sent treasured old manuscript cook books, one of which was carried by a bride in a covered wagon trek to the West coast, but was returned several generations later by train.

The results from the research for the first Southern Cook Book netted files of more than 30,000 recipes. Among them were hundreds of ways to cook chicken—not all fried. There were, to be sure, the much publicized turnip greens (salat), hog jowl, candied yams, "chitterlins," and pecan pie, but there were also hundreds of other dishes which have long been served in the South, though little known beyond their home neighborhoods. In the years following, this research has gone on until now it would be impossible to count the recipes or data on cooking.

Now, seventeen years after the publication of The Southern Cook Book, another adventure has begun: the revision of the book. This has come about for several reasons. One is that the book has been widely distributed and has appealed not only to Southerners but to persons in almost every state in this country and in many foreign countries. Letters, comments, questions, and book orders have encouraged The University of North Carolina Press to urge me to offer many new recipes. Because the women of today are so much on the go, I feel that the new book should contain some simple, easy-to-prepare dishes which were not included in the original work. New prepared mixes and packaged and processed foods have made a place in today's preparations of meals. I feel these should be given a nod of approval and wish there were space for more. Also modern cooks want clear-cut measurements of ingredients and exact directions for following recipes. For this reason I have evolved a standard format for all recipes that it seemed appropriate to standardize. So, for those who look for an old favorite and do not at first recognize it, I advise a closer look. The recipe may still be there but with an "uplifted" face. The index for the new book is also completely revised and considerably easier to use.

It was my purpose in the original book to combine "the old and the new." In this book I have combined "the old with the newer," although I believe that those who enjoyed the charming and often quaint phraseology of many of the old recipes will find enough retained to provide an air of familiar nostalgia.

In the preface for the original book I pointed out that the art of cooking in the South has never stood still. This is worth repeating. Southern cooking during the past seventeen years has moved faster than in any preceding period. Glancing back, we find the basis for the variety of cuisines even in our early cookery.

Southern cooking is the natural result of the evolution through more than three centuries, from the indigenous foods of early Jamestown to the cosmopolitan cuisine of New Orleans. It is significant that the first cook book published in this country, The Compleat Housewife, or Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion, by "E. Smith" (published in England in 1727), was published by William Parks in a revised edition in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, thus documenting the basic influence on early Southern cookery. But even before Parks entered the cook-book field, Europeans were bringing to the South various continental dishes and merging them with such native foods as corn and yams.

Very early the French and the Spanish of New Orleans blended the cookery of the two peoples. This happy combination, touched with the magic of Negro cooks, at length gave the Deep South the inimitable Creole cookery. This cookery swept north to influence the English foods and westward to blend with the Mexican cookery of the border states. Meanwhile, Germans, Italians, and others brought exciting new dishes and different methods of preparing food. The Southern cook has always welcomed new dishes and with ingenious skill has adapted them to his or her own requirements.

Since the first noticeable amalgamations of Southern cookery took place, the evolution has moved on. Now in almost any modern Southern home or restaurant one is likely to find on the menu dishes from practically every section of the country and from almost every foreign country that has traditional good food. The result of all of this is that the Southern "meal" can no longer be rigidly defined. There still are sections in the South where neither the atmosphere nor the "table" has changed; the same rich ingredients like "loads" of butter, cream, and eggs are used to make original dishes. Cakes and breads are baked from scratch with infinite care, vegetables are still boiled with salt pork or ham hock, and smoke houses hang heavy with meats. But progress is being made in every other field. It is only natural that cookery, too, should be on the move.

In this new book, as in the old, space limitations have made it necessary to omit many recipes that have been given to me. Some have been omitted because they could not be worked out to conform to a new format; others because they were similar. The line as to whether a recipe is distinctively "Southern" has been broadened to include recipes from other sections and countries. This has been done because our population now embraces so many residents (and some who are not) who are not Southern but who belong to us anyway. These good cooks should have a voice in this book, and in the end we will learn from each other.

In the preface to the original edition I said my goal was to produce a book from which one could prepare a complete meal in the true Southern manner, a book that would help to preserve the best in a way of living suggested by a motto above the mantle of the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern at Williamsburg, Hilaritas Sapientiae et Bonae Vitae Proles, "Jollity, the offspring of Wisdom and Good Living." The aim of this book is the same, with the hope that with the addition of new recipes and a more modern format, the scope of the cook may be given more bountiful resources.

As in the first book, I wish it were possible to acknowledge personally the help of the hundreds of enthusiastic and generous people who have made both books possible. Many who do not have a recipe in it have nevertheless contributed greatly to the makings. My sincere thanks to all who have helped to bring attention to the best in Southern, and in any, Cookery. What we would like to say is, "'Man,' dig this new book!"

—Marion Brown
"Brownlea"
Burlington, N.C.
February, 1968


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