Classical Southern Cooking- a Celebration of the Cuisine of the Old South
By Damon Lee Fowler


Apart from a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, I haven't spent time in the southern United States. Although the food of that city was fantastic, I believed it was an aberration; in my ignorance, I thought the cuisine of the rest of the south consisted almost solely of barbecued meat, which, while delicious for a meal or two, wasn't enough to make me want to travel there.

After reading Classical Southern Cooking, however, I am tempted. The author, Damon Lee Fowler, is an architect turned culinary historian, food writer and cooking teacher, and his insight into the history of the food he grew up eating and now cooks is fascinating. Each dish has a past - they didn't spring up out of nothing; some now-classic dishes came from Africa (with the slaves), others are from England, Scotland and wherever else the people who settled in the southern states were from.

This leads to varied eating. There are, of course, recipes for barbecued meats, grits, fried green tomatoes and mint juleps - the dishes and drinks that people tend to associate with southern cooking - but there's a lot more than that. Strangely enough, there's no recipe for gumbo (maybe because that would require a whole volume in itself), but the book does cover peanut soup with oysters; onion custard; she-crab soup; oyster bisque; baked shad stuffed with roe; fried chicken with cream gravy; beaten biscuits; coconut cake and apple meringue pie.