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Georgia and Civil War Foodways

Stir Fried sweet potato greens and shrimp, recipe below
My family and I are doing a RV trip from Boston to Florida with stops in the Carolinas and Georgia. Here is a look at the Civil War through the lens of food. Samuel H. Sprott was the son of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian immigrants born in 1840 in Sumter County, Alabama. During the Civil War he enlisted as a private in the Fortieth Alabama Regiment of the confederate army. Sprott provides a description of confederate food shortages during the Atlanta campaign: “We had been living the entire campaign on toasted cornbread, and broiled bacon, and the men were nearly crazy for vegetable[s] . . . I saw men gathering poke salad, potato tops, lamb’s quarters, and even the tender shoots of the careless weed,” in an attempt to eat some greens. Lambs quarters are edible members of the spinach and Swiss chard family but with more nutrients and potato tops are sweet potato leaves. As a “weed” and a tuber that grew underground, lambs quarters and sweet potatoes would have survived General William Tecumseh Sherman’s scorched earth strategy during his march through Georgia which he used to try starving confederate forces into surrendering, which they did in April of 1865. My research reveals lots or recipes for both plants and the popularity of sweet potato tops in Asian cookery. Below are a number of recipes using both plants. Lamb quarters came to North America from Europe, most likely the United Kingdom, during the colonial period. Sweet potato is an American plant that most likely travelers introduced to Asia via Africa in the eighteenth century. For more on southern foodways and plant history see my book Hog and Hominy http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14638-8/hog-and-hominy/tableOfContents.

Lamb quarter recipes: http://www.mariquita.com/recipes/lambs%20quarters.htm

Sweet potato tops salad recipe: http://ascientistinthekitchen.net/salads/sweet-potato-kamote-tops-salad/

Stir fried sweet potato tops and shrimp recipe: http://www.myasiankitchenny.com/2009/08/stir-fry-sweet-potato-leaves-in-sambal.html

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