Why Spoonbread Matters – Deb Freeman

While driving outside of Richmond, Virginia, one day, I passed a seafood restaurant called Stuart’s Fresh Catch. Posted outside was a vinyl sign advertising lake trout, crabs, fresh fish, and spoonbread. Clearly one of those things wasn’t like the others, and I made a mental note to come back the next day to try spoonbread.

Spoonbread is one of the oldest Southern delicacies. When executed properly, it is incredibly light, even though it has a similar texture to grits, and almost tastes like an incredibly moist piece of cornbread. “A properly prepared dish of spoonbread can be taken as continued testimony to the perfectibility of humankind,” as John Egerton, author of Southern Food, wrote, The ingredients for spoonbread are cornmeal, milk, butter, eggs, sugar, and baking powder (although some recipes call for flour), and the lineage of spoonbread can be traced back hundreds of years in Virginia. Spoonbread was originally called “Batter Bread,” and a recipe for it appears in Mary Randolph’s 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, which is considered to be the first Southern cookbook by many culinary historians.

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