Southern Plantation Cooking
Submitter: I recently came across Southern Plantation Cooking in my high school library’s cookbook section. It’s part of a series that includes titles called Civil War Cooking: The Confederacy, Civil War Cooking: The Union, and Cooking on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The cataloging-in-publication summary states that this title “[d]iscusses the everyday life, family roles, cooking methods, most important foods, and celebrations of people on southern plantations before the Civil War.” And while the book does do the job of discussing these elements of Southern plantation life, it’s the tone that I find awful.
A recipe for “Feather-light Buttermilk Biscuits” next to a sidebar on “Plantation Children” pretty much represents this book’s horrifically tone deaf presentation of information. And that table of contents: Puttin’ Up Pork (!). Christmas in the Big House (!). Big Times in the Slave Quarters (!). Some of the hand drawn illustrations are borderline offensive at best. Also the outdated language of (e.g., plantation, slave) desperately needs to be updated (labor camp, enslaved person). And at the end of the day, who is this book for? I think it would do more harm than good in either the cookbook or history section and I was delighted to stamp it “WITHDRAWN.”
Holly: This was published in 2000???
Was it published in Florida? Or Texas? Or for their schools, because they dictate content to school text publishers, you know?
Sadly, there’s still a market for slaveowner nostalgia.
I believe I can sum up my feelings thusly:
This is a book that needn’t have been published that year. Or several years before. Fie on the librarian who bought it. Although the Lewis and Clark one might be interesting (for the cooking — the treatment of the natives is awful, I’m sure).
Can’t wait to see what Henri has to say about this!
Submitter has done a righteous deed by withdrawing it. I’d be tempted to throw it in a big paper cutter to slice the pages off the cover/binding and recycle those so the content could become more useful.
A friend of mine worked at a big library in a fancy college back East and that’s what they did when their library got a long overdue overhaul. The covers had to go in the trash, except my pal was learning bookbinding at the time and grabbed several interesting ones to practice on. She made a case for my Kindle for me, replacing the end papers and putting in a clear pocket. It is one of my favorite handmade gifts ever. Kindles were new-ish and pricey then, so hiding it in a library cover of a dull book was good for reading on the bus.
Given the context of the series, I wanted to be optimistic and hope it was a straightforward book about daily life in the south. It is not.
The Big Times “celebtation” spunds worse than no holiday at all. I am sure enslaved persons had to bow and scrape in gratitide for this.