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Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking Paperback – September 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581820046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581820041
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,614,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph E. Dabney is a retired newspaperman and public relations executive who has studied the Carolina and Georgia Low Country, Appalachian, and hill-country food traditions for many years. Author of the highly acclaimed Mountain Spirits and James Beard Cookbook of the Year Award winner Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, and Scuppernong Wine, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The People

America's Great Melting Pot

March of the Celts Down the Great Wagon Road
On my father's side were Germans, blue eyes. On Mother's side they was a lot of them that was redheaded, most likely Scotch-Irish.
-Ruth Swanson Hunter, Young Harris, Georgia

Most of my people were Scotch-Irish. The Scotch-Irish have got a Presbyterian conscience. It won't keep you from sinning, but it'll keep you from enjoying your sin, and it will smite you unmercifully if you don't do what it tells you is right.
-The late North Carolina U.S. senator Sam Irvin, in Mountain Voices by Warren Moore

Grandpa Raburn was Red Irish and Grandma Raburn was Black Dutch. 'Course she wasn't dark-skinned. That's just what they called them...Aunt Sara and Uncle Joe Raburn.
-Hazel French Farmer, Union County, Georgia

It was serendipity. Or perhaps an answer to an author's prayer. Just about the time I was about to give up my quest for a succinct metaphor to describe the human tide of European immigrants that poured down Virginia's Great Valley in the mid 1700s, a moonshiner from the north Georgia hills came to my rescue. His voice boomed forth from two decades before, via an audiotape. After I replayed it, I remembered the day Theodore (Thee) King told me his family history as we sat on the doorsteps of his home just off the square in Blairsville, Georgia.

"Joe," Thee told me, "where I take my flutter mill from-my tongue-is from my mother. She was a redheaded Scotch-Irishman with some German in her for good measure."

While Thee King's gift of blarney could be credited to a Gaelic grandparent, I wondered how it was that his hair was jet black and straight, having none of the Irish reddishness to it, and his skin bore the dark patina of a Lincoln, definitely not Scot ruddy. "I'm quarter Cherokee," Thee King quickly told me. "My grandpa King was a thoroughbred Cherokee Indian."

Well now. Of course. I could see Thee's Indian-ness. He was tall and lanky and bony. And he had the gait of a Cherokee. It would be easy to picture him a few decades ago looking for a sign in the wilds leading up to Brasstown Bald, rearing up 4,780 feet of blue splendor just to the east. But the moonshiner's story didn't end there. Thee King, now deceased, who loved to go by the nickname "Doc," wanted me to hear all about the roots of his family tree.

"My grandmother King," he said, "she was a thoroughbred Englishman... and my grandpa Pitt, he was a thoroughbred German." Looking up with a triumphant grin, Theodore winked at me and declared, "Joe, I'm four mixed up; I don't know where I take my sense of reasoning and what little common sense I got, but I believe it's atter the Germans!"

Wow. What a melting pot of a man, carrying just about all the strains of traditional Blue Ridge mountain stock, except perhaps a bit of the French as typified by "Nolichucky Jack" Sevier, Tennessee's first governor, and the Welsh, typified by the greatest American Welshman of all time, the Blue Ridge's own Thomas Jefferson.

I realized that here, in the person of Theodore King, sour mash whiskey-maker supreme, a native of Gum Log, Georgia, was a microcosm of the people who rolled down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, beginning around 1720, in their covered wagons-Scotch-Irish, German, and English.

Thee King's Cherokee ancestry added another element to the Appalachian mix. It was the Indians-despite their bloody warrior reputation-whose benevolence provided the basis for many of the Appalachian foods, and whose lessons in hunting and fishing and farming and mountain living were crucial to the survival of the new Americans all the way from the first settlers at Jamestown.

The country we're talking about, of course, and the object of the human juggernaut of Celt migrants who invaded the colonial American interior in the 1700s, was the majestic Southern Appalachians-the country of rolling blue ridges, green valleys, swift flowing streams (by the hundreds), and dark coves by the thousands-all straddling the ancient mountains, a chain whose high peaks rise over six thousand feet, a magnificent complex of hills and valleys formed two million years ago at the beginning of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

The territory soon gained the nickname of "backcountry," particularly among the nouveau riche Tidewater planters who looked down their noses at the region and its settlers. Philadelphia's land speculators envisioned it as America's "Great Southwest" and so did the enthusiastic landseekers. They viewed the Appalachians as a wonderful world to conquer, the splendid and fertile Piedmont "foot of the mountain" country all the way from Pennsylvania down to north Alabama. And on the other side of the chain the verdant Indian hunting grounds that would become Tennessee and Kentucky. The region embraced the western section of Virginia and the future West Virginia, the western end of the Carolinas, and the mountain plateaus extending to Georgia and Alabama. Many mountain offshoots, plateaus, and valleys were part of the majestic mosaic-the Cumberlands, the Alleghenies, the Blue Ridge, the Smokies, the Cohuttas, and Sand Mountain southwest of Chattanooga.

The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road served as the eighteenth-century conduit for the tide of new Americans. Many would later follow Daniel Boone's lead through the Cumberland Gap on the Wilderness Road into Kentucky and south down the Holston and Watauga Rivers into Tennessee.

But the nation's busiest thoroughfare was the Wagon Road-a 435-mile stretch surveyed by Peter Jefferson from Philadelphia down the Great Valley of Virginia to North Carolina's Yadkin River. Generally, it followed the route of the Iroquois' Great Warrior's Path along the valley of the Shenandoah, "Daughter of the Stars" in Iroquois. The road picked up the Cherokee Trading Path from Salisbury, North Carolina, south on to Mecklenburg County and eventually to Augusta, Georgia.

Southbound traffic in the early 1770s soared to tens of thousands of wagons, horses, and humans, becoming the heaviest-traveled road in the continent.* As Carl Bridenbaugh wrote, the road "must have had more vehicles jolting along its rough and tortuous way than all other main roads put together," crowded with "horsemen, footmen, and pioneer families with horse and wagon and cattle."

The tide gained great momentum following the Cherokee defeat at the hands of the British in 1761.

Two years later, the French and Indian War, which had kept the frontiers tense, came to an end. In 1768, the Iroquois gave up land claims.

"Over the mountains, through the gaps, down the watershed they came," wrote Wilma Dykeman, Tennessee's eminent historian, "Scotch-Irish, English, German, low Dutch and occasionally French Huguenots...in their search of what they called the Southwest."

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I wish there were more books like this one.
kellyfmtx
This is such a great book with a lot of stories and humor in it as well as effective recipes.
Louis T. Grannan Jr.
From the wonderful smells of my Grandmothers kitchen to smells of hog killing day.
Briarfields

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Liz on April 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Great recipies and great stories. Truly reflects the relatinship between food, culture and the heritage of the region. Even if I do not want to make a particular dish, I enjoy reading about its local historical importance. I read this book to imerse myself in the "feeling" of the region. I have about 200 cookbooks, but this is one of my favorities -- I sent it to my cousin in West Virginia so that she can better understand the background of her neighbors. To summarize: I just love this book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of my true regrets in life is that I did not write down the treasured "old timey" way of doing things before my grandparents passed away. Things like making homemade apple butter and planting by the signs are now, sadly, a thing of the past. I want to thank the author for recording these things from others in my grandparent's generation. I am truly indebted.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Years ago I lived in Virginia, and this cookbook brings back a lot of memories of something rooted to the land. It's about the people, the hills, and the lifestyle -- all intertwined inseparably from the food. There's something rich going on here -- and I don't mean in dollars. The author's done a fine job. The recipes presented are not abundant (the first recipe doesn't appear until page 103), but they are as "American" as you can imagine, if not exactly contemporary. Included are country recipes with names that will intrigue many of us now: elderberry wine, pot likker dumplings, Cherokee hominy, Blue Ridge fried corn, cherrylog scuppernong pie, sorghum taffy, and mule ears. I don't know how many of these recipes I'll make, but boy do I love reading this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By kellyfmtx on January 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
All I can say is this book is AWESOME. You must get it. I have never seen such quality, and old time cooking, and history wrapped up in one cookbook like this. I wish there were more books like this one. If we don't write down the knowledge these people had, and how they survived, and lived...we are making a tragic mistake. I cannot wait to start making some of the food listed from their recipes! I just saw this book last night at a bookstore in town. Don't hesitate to get this book, you won't be sorry.
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45 of 58 people found the following review helpful By James E. Gentle on December 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author of this folksy, breezy book is obviously in love with his subject. Unfortunately, he sometimes does not seem to know what he's writing about. On page 189 with a photo of hams hanging hock up, he quotes a mountain sage who says hams should be 'hung with the hocks down', but apparently does not notice the discrepancy. Five pages later he gives his 'modern update' to a traditional recipe: boil ham in water in a deep pan (not a pressure cooker) at 300 degrees. Funny, I can't get my boiling water above 212 degrees. Although he has a deep love of the subject, he does not appear to have a deep knowledge. There are many examples of inconsistencies. On page 313 and following, he describes a mountain personage Aggie Ross Lossiah and then on page 327 and following, he describes the same person, but calls her Angie Ross Lossiah. (These are not just typos; at each place he uses the name multiple times.) In the chapter on sorghum syrup, he says 'it is known in the mountains as "long sweetenin'." This is in contrast to "short sweetenin'" -- refined sugar.' Then in the chapter on honey, he says 'honey was considered the much-loved mountain "long sweetening" while sorghum was "short sweetening".'
The main purpose of the recipes in the book seem for entertainment. Many are cute, but most are either trivial and obvious, or else carelessly presented; for example, a recipe for blackberry dumplings calls for four ingredients: 1 qt blackberries, 1 1/4 c sugar, 2 c water, and "Berry mix". I have not figured out where to get the "Berry mix" (is that a commercial product?) or when to add it -- it was not mentioned in the directions. Also, there's that problem of boiling water at 300 degrees. Nevertheless, I found the book enjoyable and evocative of my own experiences in and with the people of the Southern Appalachians.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By AmberWolf on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is filled-brimming with knowledge, page after page, and not one page is wasteful!

Filled with lore,

Filled with recipes.

My God, filled with information I couldn't believe existed!

Do you know what a syllabub is?

I did, we have an original syllabub, one that actually survived the Civil War. This cookbook describes in detail what they were used for, and the greatest of recipes for syllabub-the milk and wine mix.

This book is a history book, listing TRUE History!

How our ancestors ticked, and why you have that inclination to go back to those old traditional ways, because you have it in your genes, you are a descendant of these tough and true-grit individuals that fought and survived the most brutal of wars.

This book will make you proud, you won't be inclined to ever loan it out, because even if you let grandma borrow it, it probably won't be returned.

I forewarned you- don't loan it out!

Keep it, read it, and if tempted, just buy another one to loan, it's worth the price paid. Hurry now, before they read this review and decide to raise the cost! (too bad I couldn't make that smaller print)
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