When people want to know more about the past, they often crack open a book and read. While the history books have been a good source for those wanting to learn about the Civil War, they can also use cookbooks to read up on the history of America.
Several cookbooks that were published during the Civil War have given readers a better idea of just how hard things got back then, especially in terms of conflict affecting the diets and social lives of people living in the North and South.
People living in the South were starved by the Union’s naval blockade of the Mississippi and River and Atlantic coast. This blockade left them unable to access foods like pork, grain and salt. It was the opposite for those living in the North, who had all ports open and access to virtually any good they wanted. The availability of food affected the publishing of cookbooks, as there were more cookbooks printed in the North during this time, but only one is the South, which was the Confederate Receipt Book.
The Northern cookbooks in comparison to the Southern cookbooks, obviously varied in recipes, but also the ingredients that were needed. The North was affected by the war, but the South was in a worse state. While the recipes in the cookbooks from the North called for expensive ingredients, the South was using recipes that worked with the ingredients they could get.
Along with evidence of famine being present in these cookbooks, there was also references to slavery found. The cookbook, Mrs. S.G. Knight’s Tit-Bits; Or, How to Prepare a Nice Dish at a Moderate Expense, referenced slavery. One specific recipe, “Tessie’s wheaten Biscuit(From a Contraband) is the evidence, as the term contraband was used to refer to slaves who escaped across Union lines.
A cookbook is not the usual place for people to look when they are interested in the Civil War. Though it is not the ideal place, these cookbooks have proven to be a good source when people are curious about famine and slavery during this time.