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A Taste of the Antebellum South

 by Danielle Maestretti

Tags: Great Writing, food, Southern food, sesame seeds, benne, heirloom seeds, Oxford American, Danielle Maestretti,

One of the many mouth-watering pieces in the Oxford American’s new Southern Food issue reveals Charleston chef Sean Brock’s secret ingredient: a very special, and very old, variety of sesame seeds:Oxford American Southern Food issue

Brock’s heirloom sesame seeds were tracked down by a motley crew of South Carolinians—an English professor, an entomologist, a mill owner—with a special interest in finding and restoring antebellum ingredients. “Nineteenth-century plant breeders tended to breed for taste—the vegetables they produced were vetted strongly for palatability,” University of South Carolina English professor David Shields tells the Oxford American. “In the twentieth century, they’re more concerned with transportability, shelf life, eye-appeal. What interests me is trying to recover the vegetables and grains from the nineteenth century that were known to be linchpins of the American table.”

Source: Oxford American