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Civil War Cooking

There are many tales about cooking on the battlefields of the American Civil War. Although the Civil War is a dark period in the nation's history, many of America's most loved and treasured foods come from recipes creatively developed by both Union and Confederate soldiers. A very famous example of Civil War cooking is the Southern favorite, "the Hush puppy".

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As the Civil War waged, the Confederate army was losing necessary supply lines as part of the Union army's tactics. As a result, the Confederate army was forced to rely on what nature provided at the particular time and location for their Civil War cooking. As corn is a readily available and abundant American cash crop, the Confederate army found themselves using corn in most of their meals. The Hush Puppy, an example of Civil War cooking, is cornmeal formed into a solid ball, seasoned with various spices and could be easily deep fried in a pan over an open fire. Hush Puppies were also small and portable and would stay fresh for several days. There were many other dishes prepared under similar circumstances during the course of Civil War cooking. However, the hush puppy is one of the most popular items derived from Civil War cooking because many restaurants and soul food establishments offer hush puppies on their menu throughout the south.

Of course, the name "hush puppy", in itself is a bit puzzling. There's a bit of history from civil war cooking which explains this as well. There were many hound dogs in the service of the confederate army. At night, particularly when the Union and Confederate army camped close to one another, there was an attempt to maintain a good deal of quiet. However, hounds and puppies are known to bark and yelp. In an effort to silence them, Confederate soldiers would toss the corn balls to the dogs and proclaim "hush puppies!"

The hush puppy and its place in civil war cooking is a good example of how the soldiers made use of valuable nutrition while lending insight as to the conditions faced on the battlefield.


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