Here, the value of a cultivar or dish does not reside in its being a heritage marker, a survival from an originating culture previous to its uses in southern planting and cooking. In Southern Provisions, he reveals how the true ingredients of southern cooking have been all but forgotten and how the lessons of its current restoration and recultivation can be applied to other regional foodways. One has to know how the field crops, kitchen garden, flower and herb garden, livestock pen, dairy, and kitchen cooperated. True, he notes that demand for specific foods at the restaurant table of the best caterers of the South and at the market changed the way farming operated, and as such obliterated many of the heirloom and distinctive varietals that gave the South its historic flavor. Shields begins by looking at how professional chefs during the nineteenth century set standards of taste that elevated southern cooking to the level of cuisine.
Rather, the aesthetics of breeding changed so that cold tolerance, productivity, quick maturity, disease resistance, transportability, and slow decay often trumped taste in the list of desiderata. Within the matrix of uses, any plant or animal that could be employed in multiple ways would be more widely raised in a locality and more often cycled into cultivation. Shields, who has spent over a decade researching early American agricultural and cooking practices. Only with the aid of the skeptical field-trial reporters working the experimental stations of the 1890s can one see that the number of horticultural and pomological novelties named as being available for purchase substantially exceeds the number of varieties that actually exist. But this is not enough. Until recently, most places have been content to know their food heritage through culinary folklore. Richard Schulze, and Mack Rhodes.
Yet for anyone touched by historical consciousness, there is a sense that these efforts are holding actions. Until today this knowledge has been the private preserve of the growers Nat Bradford, Steven Chase, Campbell Coxe, Ben and Kristen DuBard, Kenneth DuBard, Thom Duncan, John and Wendy Eleazer, Jimmy Hagood, Hal Hanvey, James Helms, Max L. We can still read the old recipes and tally vanished ingredients: benne, guinea squash, tanya, Carolina-African peanuts, Carolina Gold rice, rice peas, sturgeon, American chestnuts. Roberts was too marked by his Californian youth, me by formative years in Japan, Shepard by his long engagement with Asian food culture, Campbell Coxe with his late twentieth-century business mentality, to yearn for some antebellum never-never land of big house banqueting. Very valuable, and a hard kind to shell. Then the boom in long staple Sea Island cotton, a very exhausting plant, pushed Lowcountry soil into crisis.
The landraces of rice, wheat, oats, rye, and corn that were brought into agriculture in the coastal Southeast were, during the eighteenth century, planted as cash crops, those same fields being replanted season after season, refreshed only with manuring until the early nineteenth century. With the rise of the commercial seedsmen, naming of vegetable varieties became chaotic. This spring, however, David Shields and University of Chicago Press released one of the most important books not just in Southern cuisine, but more importantly, American cuisine at large. Goat, so called, I presume, from its spots. Unlike other food histories, this one examines not just the cooks but also the markets and growers of the antebellum period as tastes, preferences, and habits have changed over time I never realized there was such a multitude of pea types.
Shields begins by looking at how professional chefs during the nineteenth century set standards of taste that elevated southern cooking to the level of cuisine. In the modern world, a cuisine is at least bimodal in constitution, with an urbane style and a country vernacular style. ² I knew him only by reputation. The seedsman, the orchardist, the livestock breeder, the horticulturist—experimentalists who maintained model farms, nurseries, and breeding herds—became fixtures of the agricultural scene and drove innovation. ©2015 by University of Chicago Press.
Because agricultural letters and print mediated the conversations of the experimentalists, and because regional journals reprinted extensively from other journals from other places, a curiosity about the best variety of vegetables, fruits, and berries grown anywhere regularly led many to secure seed from northern brokers only the Landreth Seed Company of Pennsylvaniamaintained staff in the Lowcountry , or seedsmen in England, France, and Germany. They also explain how these things were marketed locally, regionally, and nationally. No cookbook would tell you why a farmer chose a clay pea to intercrop with white flint corn, or a lady pea, or a black Crowder, but a reader of the agricultural press would know that the clay pea would be plowed under with the corn to fertilize a field a practice on some rice fields every fourth year , that the lady pea would be harvested for human consumption, and that the black Crowder would be cut for cattle feed. In the modern world, a cuisine is at least bimodal in constitution, with an urbane style and a country vernacular style. If you are new here, you may want to learn a little more about how this site works.
He argues this through a long explanation of Southern agricultural innovation traced through ag journals directed at farmers and marketers of th Shields is making the argument that Southern food is made on the reputation of its agricultural landscape, on the many varietals of fruits and vegetables and wild game, and pork that have been innovated in the landscape over time, and that we have forgotten to maintain the meaningful link between our understanding of what we grow and what we consume. The aesthetics of planting, breeding, and eating formed a whole sense of the ends of agriculture. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Shields, David S. In his younger days, Roberts worked on oyster boats, labored in fields, and cooked in Charleston restaurants, so when he turned to growing grain in the 1990s, he had a peculiar perspective on what he wished for: he knew he wanted to taste the terroir of the Lowcountry in the food. Originally, the Sea Islands were viewed as a separate topography.
My desire in writing Southern Provisions was to treat the subject so that a reader could trace the connections between plants, plantations, growers, seed brokers, markets, vendors, cooks, and consumers. It took two and a half years before we knew enough to reformulate our concept of cuisine and historically contextualize the Carolina Rice Kitchen well enough to map our starting point for the work of replenishment—a reboot of Lowcountry cuisine. Cuisines have two faces: a cosmopolitan face, prepared by professional cooks; and a common face, prepared by household cooks. Growers drove taste innovation in American grains, legumes, and vegetables during the age of experiment. Only Louisiana among the different regions has nourished a community of historians that elucidates its legacies.