If America has a cuisine, it’s Southern. The cooking is regional even within the region, shaped by particular communities, and based on particular ingredients. I learned a new word from this book–“landrace” produce–a traditional variety of plant or animal developed over time in response to local agricultural practices.
It’s that landrace produce that drives author David Shields, with help from chefs like Sean Brock, to understand why simple, historic recipes don’t taste that good today–because they were made with different corn, different rice, and different pork. In this book, Shields explores professional meals–hotel and restaurant dining rooms, market produce–including confectionary, and seed catalogs to trace sources of authenticity.
This review appeared in the February edition of CHoWline, the monthly newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C.–an all-volunteer organization that is coming up on its 20th anniversary. Check them out!