Exotic foods and dishes, never before tasted, were being introduced as the Sunshine State was in the throes of becoming a United States territory. The Industrial Revolution made an impact on cooking and dining while a new capital city was established in Tallahassee in 1824, a year before Florida became the twenty-seventh state.
In the early 1800s, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote the culinary classic The Physiology of Taste, with such aphorisms as “Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are” and “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.”
British plantations, concentrated in Middle Florida, helped lay the foundation for Southern cooking. New settlers brought new ideas and new ways of cooking, introducing such dishes as the English apple pie, Dutch cookies, cole slaw and German sauerkraut. New names were introduced: snickerdoodle, flummery, fool, crisp, crumble, cobbler, buckle, Betty, pandowdy, syllabub, slip, shrub, slump, grunt, salamander, rusk and jumble.
Southern cooking is the original American cuisine, with hundreds of books written on the subject and thousands of recipes, but it can be described with two words: comfort food. Seminole, Southern, Soul and Cracker cooking are all rooted in the past, with a common thread of freshly picked or harvested fruits and vegetables; fish and shellfish found in the myriad of lakes, streams and coastal waterways; barnyard chickens, wild hogs and venison; basic cooking skills; and a taste that is recognizably the South with seasonal treats such as cane syrup, boiled peanuts, muscadine grapes and tupelo honey.
Colonial cookbooks introduced us to fools, shrubs and bubs. Orange juice, eggs, cream, sugar and spices are combined, heated and then cooled to make an orange-fool. A shrub is made from spirits and juice with a little spice and sugar. The syllabub, or “bub” for bubbling drink, started with milking a cow straight into a bucket of cider or wine, also known as “sillery,” to create a bubbling or frothy effect. Later, a new method was introduced using a “ventilator,” or whisk, to combine the milk and cider or wine. The following is an updated version. Dating back to the 1600s, when it was made with a hard cider or wine, this new version introduces crisp apple cider to create a family beverage.
(A Culinary History of Florida, Joy Sheffield Harris)
3 cups fresh apple cider
1⁄2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
In a saucepan, combine cider, sugar and salt. While stirring, heat the apple cider just enough to dissolve sugar and salt. Chill. In a large punch bowl, fold the whipped cream into chilled cider mixture, then whisk until frothy and combined. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg before serving.