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Seeking the Historical Cook
Exploring Eighteenth-century Southern Foodways

Kay K. Moss

A primer on applying historical and culinary practices to modern day cooking

Seeking the Historical Cook is a guide to historical cooking methods from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century receipt (recipe) books and an examination of how those methods can be used in kitchens today. Designed for adventurous cooks and "foodies," this volume is rich with photographs, period images, and line art depicting kitchen tools and cooking methods. Kay K. Moss invites readers to discover traditional receipts and to experiment with ancestral dishes to brighten today's meals.

From campfires to modern kitchens, Seeking the Historical Cook is a primer on interpreting the language of early receipts, a practical guide to historical techniques, and a memoir of experiences at historic hearths. Scores of sources, including more than a dozen unpublished personal cookery books, are compared and contrasted with a new look at southern foodways. These receipts, facts, and lore illustrate the evolution of selected foods through the eighteenth century and beyond.

After decades of research, experimentation, and teaching in a variety of settings, Moss provides a hands-on approach to rediscovering, re-creating, and enjoying foods from the early South. The book begins by steeping the reader in history, culinary tools, and the common cooking techniques of the time. Then Moss presents a collection of tasteful and appealing Southern ancestral receipts that can be fashioned into brilliant heirloom dishes for our twenty-first-century tables. There are offerings fit for a simple backwoods celebration or an elegant plantation feast. The reader will find intriguing new possibilities for a modern Thanksgiving dinner and even simple experiments for a school project or for sharing with a favorite child. This book is for the cook who wants to try something old . . . that is new again.

Kay K. Moss founded the Eighteenth-century Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, North Carolina, and teaches open-hearth cookery at John C. Campbell Folk School. Her previous books include Southern Folk Medicine, 1750–1820, published by the University of South Carolina Press, The Backcountry Housewife, Journey to the Piedmont Past, and Decorative Motifs from the Southern Backcountry, 1750–1825.

"Kay serves up authentic recipes combined with years of in-depth research into period cooking methodology, seasoning it with sizable helpings of her infectious enthusiasm… a sumptuous repast for food historians, historic interpreters, and those who simply delight in books on cookery."—Jim Daniel, independent researcher, historian, and historical interpreter

"With this volume, Kay Moss accomplishes her goal of providing us with a resource to pursue 'experiential culinary history.' Her research is quite original—how many among us are familiar with terms like 'snippet,' 'kiss,' 'forcemeat,' or 'wigs'? Look no further for an engaging explanation of our collective gastronomical roots!"—Saddler Taylor, Chief Curator of Folklife & Fieldwork at McKissick Museum

"This thoughtful writer demystifies the techniques of historical Southern hearth cookery and will have everyone reaching for Dutch ovens and making pudding bags out of handkerchiefs. As we acknowledge the wisdom of looking back a couple of centuries at our past ways of eating and cooking together, we can be thankful that there are a few, like Kay Moss, who have researched, studied, and mastered the art of fine cooking over a wood fire. With humor and fearless curiosity she explains the old ways and offers doable interpretations of recipes for many delicious dishes that fit our modern lives. Whether you are a history buff, time traveler, or serious cook, this book will enlighten and entertain you."—Nanette Davidson, John C. Campbell Folk School

 
 

 

book jacket for Seeking the Historical Cook


 

CULINARY HISTORY
(2013)
288 pages
38 illus.
ISBN 978-1-61117-259-1
hardcover, $49.95s
ISBN 978-1-61117-260-7
paperback, $24.95t
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