Special Collections and University Archives

by Audrey Sage

In this edition of our newsletter, we present you with the wonderful American cookery book by Sarah Belk.  This collection of recipes, historical anecdotes which date back to 1607, and interesting stories and quotations center around the foods and traditions of southern cooking.  The author has compiled a vast array of unique culinary delights that celebrate the beloved southern cooking.  The south is “home to juicy peaches and corn, gulf shrimp, black-eyed peas, the softest four on earth and crunchy pecans. Imagine (if you can!) life without plump sweet potatoes, hominy grits, smoked county ham, oysters, green tomatoes, bourbon, and the underestimated catfish.”

Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk was published in 1991 by Simon Schuster.  She writes in her introduction, “Until I was about twelve, I figured everyone ate fried chicken on Sunday, drank iced tea sweetened, and ate bread – whether it was biscuits, cornbread, or yeasty pocketbook rolls – piping hot. I thought everyone knew that ambrosia was a holiday dessert and that across the country the “barbecue” meant a smoky, shredded pork sandwich. It was only later – as I ventured beyond the Southeast – that I realized mealtime could include exotic things… like goose liver, caviar, and Champagne. I temporarily forgot how good the food was that I grew up with…. sometimes I can’t help but ache for a mess of fresh field peas and a quart of homemade fig preserves from a neighbor’s backyard tree.”

Sarah Belk has compiled and adapted recipes that span over many southern regions and reflect the history of the south through wars and times of excess and of want.  She has “successfully combined 300 years of recipes and history with fresh ingredients and basic common sense”, replacing some ingredients for more health-conscious options and presented recipes that fit in well with the time conscious cook.

We present a few recipes for you to savor and enjoy.

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