Tar Heel Cookery

North Carolina cooking is getting lots of attention these days. UNC Press has recently published Marcie Cohen Ferris’s Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South and Mildred Council’s Mama Dip’s Family Cookbook. Another well-known Chapel Hill chef, Bill Smith, has just come out with Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and from Home.

Naturally, we started to wonder how all of this began and searched our catalog for the oldest North Carolina cookbook that we could find. We came up with the book The Family Token, or Book of Practical Arts and Sciences, by “An Eminent Physician,” published in Greensboro in 1854. There is an impressive amount of information in this slim volume. It contains not only recipes, but home remedies and moral advice. Thus, not only can you learn how to roast mutton and fowls, the author gives advice on treating a common sore throat (gargle salt, vinegar, pepper, and water), and killing weeds in a brick walk (keep them moist with brine three weeks in spring and one week in fall).

As a service to our readers, we present the following recipe from The Family Token:


One cup of sugar, one of cream, three eggs, a tea-spoon of saleratus; cut in strips, twist and fry in lard.

If you don’t have any saleratus in your cupboard, baking powder is an acceptable substitute.