Back to biscuits

At least for a moment. One of the things I find interesting about southern biscuits is that their name has changed consistently over time to reflect the kind of leavening they’ve been made from. Originally they were known as “saleratus” biscuits, and in fact even though real potassium bicarbonate saleratus hasn’t been available in America since about 1880, there are still a few people (most of them in Appalachia) that still refer to them that way (“SAL-er-AT-us” biscuits). Interesting since that name went out of vogue around the time of the Civil War. Then, they were more widely known as “soda” biscuits (more on soda in the very near future). Toward the end of the nineteenth century the most common name for the southern biscuit was the “baking powder biscuit”, and in fact my grandmother always referred to them that way.

Nowadays of course “southern biscuits” or “buttermilk biscuits” are the most common terms, likely an attempt to make them more wholesome-sounding to the modern ear. Funny isn’t it, how in the day and age when Americans were excited by the ideas of industrial progress they were only too happy to name their biscuits after the latest technological leap. Today, fearful of making foods sound as though they have chemicals in them (though in fact all food is made of chemicals) most people demure from such terms.

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