Any discussion of Georgia cookbooks begins with Henrietta Stanley Dull’s regional masterwork. An able cook who became the family wage earner when her husband’s health failed, Dull catered and demonstrated gas stoves for Atlanta Gas Light Company before being named the editor of the home economics page for the Atlanta Journal’s Sunday magazine in 1920. She wrote a weekly column called “Mrs. Dull’s Cooking Lessons” that ran for a quarter century.
A first edition of Southern Cooking was published locally in 1928; New York publishing house Grosset and Dunlap printed an expanded and reworked edition with 1,300 recipes in 1941 that sold an impressive 150,000 copies. Almost seventy years later, the plain-spoken style of recipe writing from that era comes across as inevitably outmoded, but the book is still an authoritative, fascinating read. Her instructions for preparing possum and animal-rich Brunswick stew redefine “from scratch”—she coaches how to pull off hair and saw through backbones. (Most recipes—oyster bisque, eggplant soufflé, drop biscuits, or watermelon-rind pickles, for example—are far less graphic.) The University of Georgia Press’s 2006 reprinting of Southern Cooking includes a new foreword by Damon Lee Fowler that further illustrates the importance of Dull’s book as a culinary record of transitional Dixie in the twentieth century.
By Mrs. S.R. Dull
University of Georgia Press
RECIPE: Georgia Gumbo