Part of my approach to this regional cooking project has been "where there is a cookbook, there is a cuisine" so when I found a book on Ante Bellum cuisine I knew I had to add one more entry to the "A's".
Ante Bellum cuisine - the cuisine of the United States in the years prior to the civil war - is characterized by the infusion of French and creole influences and ingredients into classic American cuisine. America gained much more than land with the purchase of the Louisiana territories.
All the recipes I made came from the same cookbook. I based my menu more on personal preferences than on a clear understanding of what a menu of the Ante Bellum period would have been like. I started with a salad though I'm not sure at what point during a meal a salad would have been eaten in Ante Bellum times, and then I followed with a seafood dish as fish (and presumably other seafood) commonly appeared as first courses in menus of the period. I'm not sure at all whether the oxtail stew I served as my main dish would have had such a lofty position at an Ante Bellum meal - perhaps it would be served as a soup earlier in the meal? And finally, I decided to serve apple fritters with ice cream because most of the other dessert-like recipes in the book were for cakes and I try to avoid baking cakes as much as possible.
My final menu consisted of:
- Dutch salad
- Shrimp Pie
- Oxtail Creole
served with white rice
- Apple Fritters
served with ice cream
On a sidenote, it wasn't until I had set my menu and was about to start cooking that I realized that my dinner guests might be Muslims. With ample use of shell fish and ham this is as anti-halal/kosher a menu as you could imagine. Fortunately it turned out that my guests didn't have any food restrictions.
Ante Bellum American Food Links
- Bibliography - cookbooks I used