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New York City A Food Biography

New York City
A Food Biography

Andrew F. Smith
Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2013

New York City
A Food Biography
is featured in
The New York Post

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Food and Drink in America

Food and Drink in American History:
A "Full Course" Encyclopedia

Andrew F. Smith
Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO

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Latest Release

Food and Drink in America

The Oxford Encyclopedia of
Food and Drink in America

New Honors!
The Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America won the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.
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The International Association of Culinary Professionals named The Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America the winner of the Beverage/Reference/Technical category on March 15, 2014 in Chicago.
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Booklist Best Reference” list for 2013

Esquire magazine
Esquire Magazine recommends
Food and Drink in America

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Recent Release!

Drinking History

Drinking History:
Fifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages
(Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

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Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War

Starving the South

Starving the South
How the North Won the Civil War

Andrew F. Smith;
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011

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Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011)

Read the review from Civil War Times Magazine

Did hunger defeat the Confederacy? In April 1861, Lincoln ordered a blockade of Southern ports used by the Confederacy for cotton and tobacco exporting as well as for the importation of food staples like flour and salt. Southern cooks became resourceful; but, it wasn’t quite enough and the Army of the Confederacy grew thin. Union dinner tables, conversely, groaned with plenty and Northern canning operations grew allowing Grant to keep his troops strong. In “Starving the South”, historian Andrew Smith takes a fascinating gastronomical look at the war and its legacy. While the Civil War split the country in a way that affects race and politics to this day, it also affected the way we eat and drink: It transformed local markets into large, nationalized and industrialized food suppliers. It forced the development of the northern canning industry, solidified the celebration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday and forged the first truly national cuisine as emancipated slaves migrated northward carrying the recipes and flavors of the South with them. On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter, Andrew Smith takes a unique look at a war that’s been analyzed and fought over since Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

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Praise for Starving the South

“Smith, author of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, makes a plausible case that food — enough of it among the Unionists, a lack of it among the Confederates — played a critical role in determining winners and losers in the Civil War.

Before the battles began in 1861, the American South could claim unmatched farm productivity because of slaves. Much of the agricultural land, however, produced tobacco and cotton, more profitable commodities than edibles.

If Southerners had devoted more acreage to growing food, the Confederacy perhaps could have fed troops adequately during four years of battlefield deaths. Instead, the slave states had become increasingly dependent on Midwestern farmers, most of whom supplied food to the Union troops after the outbreak of war.

Smith explains how the war changed eating habits across the United States. Union troops developed a taste for previously unsampled Southern dishes, including fried chicken, gumbo and sweet potatoes. Canned food, needed during the war for obvious tactical reasons, began to catch on, bringing fruits, vegetables and milk to numerous Americans who had never been able to procure such healthy items easily.

‘The industrialization of American food, from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s plate, was in full swing,’ Smith writes.”

Steve Weinberg, Lifestyle, Atlanta Constitution. Civil War book roundup. May 27, 2011

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“Andrew Smith, a faculty member at the New School in Brooklyn and author of many books on culinary history, has turned his attention to the Civil War and in doing so produced a first-rate volume that adds a new dimension to our understanding of the war. Others have pointed to facets of the subject—the bread riots, the unequal distribution of food within the Confederacy, the hunger of the soldiers, etc—but Smith brings it all together, so that the reader comes to appreciate the interplay of the failure to exempt skilled railroad workers from conscription, the laissez-faire ideology that precluded central direction of the railroads or adequate oversight of blockade running, the introduction of impressment and the resultant hoarding, speculation and corruption, and the ruinous policies that fueled inflation. In short, the managerial inadequacy of the plantation-owning class, who largely controlled the government, and their failure to mobilize their society for war. Problems of inadequate distribution of food that might have been solved— if they had even been addressed—in 1862 were beyond solution in 1863 and reached crisis proportions in 1864.

A particularly telling chapter is devoted to the Northern (civilian) plan in 1864 to provide traditional fare, and plenty of it, for the men of the Army of the Potomac for Thanksgiving. Money was donated, food purchased, distribution organized, and the resultant feast was a major morale-booster for the men in blue. Piqued, the secessionists determined to provide a similar treat for their soldiers in Virginia, in the form of a mainmagnificent New Year’s meal. The Richmond Examiner predicted “the biggest barbecue ever gotten up on this continent” would be provided to the troops on “a table twenty miles long.” Despite the planning, prepared food, contributions, good intentions, optimistic projections, and positive reports, the dinner was a bust. One soldier described the “3 or 4 bites of bread and 3 bites of meat” as “quite a snack for a feast.” Others called it “a complete fizzle,” a “grand farce,”and a “complete failure.” Many received nothing. Two days later the Richmond Examiner claimed that speculators had ended up with much of the money collected. Morale in the ranks plummeted.

Starving the South is an eye-opening book about how an agrarian nation failed even in its most elementary task — feeding its people. Beautifully written, I commend this book to all those interested in understanding why the Confederacy lost the war.”

Keith Poulter, Publisher-editor, North & South, January 2011.

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“Southern stomachs were even more valuable military targets than Southern armies, according to this absorbing history of the fight for food during the Civil War. Food historian Smith chronicles the devastation wrought by the Union blockade and the cutoff of Northern agricultural trade on the South, whose farm economy was based on cotton and tobacco. (The curtailment of salt imports alone, he notes, made meat preservation almost impossible.) The resulting shortages, abetted by the Confederate government’s misguided confiscations from its citizens, hobbled the Southern war effort, Smith contends (surrenders at Vicksburg and Appomattox were dictated by starvation; rioting women chanted “Bread or Blood!” and plaintive letters from hungry families prompted mass desertions). Meanwhile, the North’s booming industrialized agricultural system kept Yankees fat, Smith notes. An 1864 civilian campaign to send every bluecoat a Thanksgiving feast succeeded lavishly, while the Southern riposte could muster only a few bites of hardtack and meat. A corrective to blood-and-guts operational histories, Smith’s lucid study gives war production, logistics, and home front morale in the Civil War the prominence they deserve.”

Publisher’s Weekly

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“Food scholar Smith (Hamburger: A Global History, 2008) considers how food shortages contributed to the demise of the Confederacy. Introducing geographical patterns of American agriculture at the outset of the Civil War, Smith sets up the South’s vulnerabilities in food production and distribution. Before the war, for example, its grain came from the Midwest, and its salt, vital for preserving meat, was imported from Wales. The Confederate government’s various attempts to replace such commodities denied it by Union naval supremacy attract Smith’s astute explanations of their general failure. Rebel officials resorted to printing money, price controls, and confiscations, which may have reflected their resolve to solve supply problems but not an understanding of economics. Inflation, hoarding, and speculation spread widely, as did riots against food shortages. In addition to the way hunger depleted civilian morale, Smith recounts the deleterious effect on southern armies of the Union’s destruction of farms and railroads; in fact, Lee surrendered when Grant captured his supplies. Smith gives intriguing and readable response to the ever-popular question of why the South lost.”

Gilbert Taylor, Booklist February 15, 2011

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“‘An army travels on its stomach,‘ wrote Napoleon Bonaparte in one of his most astute maxims. That truth certainly applied to Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War, giving a weighty advantage to the normally well-fed Federals in their campaigns against enemy armies weakened by hunger. Malnutrition on the home front also sapped the will of Southern people to sustain the war effort, as Andrew Smith demonstrates in this important and readable study.”

James M. McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

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“The Mason-Dixon divides the nation’s table as certainly as it does its geography, its history, and its cultural identity. Like many Mediterranean cuisines, southern cooking grew from a combination of rich soil, hot sun, an all but insane obeisance to tradition and, of course, slavery. By following the food, Andrew Smith pushes the reader past easy moralizing and toward the more complicated underlying issues that led the country into war with itself. The result is the best excuse to eat lard-fried chicken I’ve read in a quite some time.”

Molly O’Neill, author One Big Table– A Portrait of American Cooking

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“Andy Smith, who previously plumbed the social history of the turkey and the pop culture of popcorn, has rendered good service to those of us engaged in the study of American foodways. He helps us understand the import of food supply during wartime. In these pages, Union blockades curtail Confederate foodstuff shipments, hungry soldiers desert their posts to return to family farms, and the ‘salt famine’ of 1862 compels a clutch of Greenville, Alabama, women to march on the local railroad station, shouting ‘Salt or Blood’.”

John T Edge, series editor Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing

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“The dictum that armies march on their stomachs was never more apt than during the American Civil War, and as Andrew Smith’s new book Starving the South ably demonstrates, in the Confederacy that applied to the home front as well as the battle lines. Every hungry wife and child was a cry to a soldier husband and father to desert and come home, while empty bellies and illness born of malnutrition sapped the physical strength and patriotic will of the men in the ranks. No previous study of the impact of food and food distribution and shortages in the war has delved so deeply into the impact of calories on morale, and Smith reveals in ample detail how the Union served the South a menu for defeat.”

William C. Davis, author of Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America, Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic University and Director of Programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies

Latest Media
A Taste of Peanut Butter History with Andrew Smith

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Peanut Butter:
The Vegetarian Conspiracy

by Andrew F. Smith
Peanut Butter:
The Vegetarian Conspiracy

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Andrew F. Smith talks Turkey

Andrew F. Smith talks turkey

Listen to his Heritage Radio interview:
Turkey, An American Story
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Andrew F. Smith talks Tuna
Read A Fish Tale in
LMU Magazine
Andrew F. Smith talks tuna
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Andrew Smith talks about American Tuna:
Its Rise and Fall
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Andrew F. Smith
The Founding of the Food Network:
A 20 Year Retrospective
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Andrew F. Smith talks about
Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine
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Culinary Luminaries:
Edna Lewis

Moderated by Andrew F. Smith
FEATURED ARTICLES
Kitchens through the Ages
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise: A History
by Andrew F. Smith Hellmann’s Mayonnaise: A History PDF

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Kitchens through the Ages
Kitchens through the Ages
by Andrew F. Smith Read it on Gourmet Live

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Birdseye:
The Adventures of a Curious Man

by Andrew F. Smith

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The Noble Experiment in
New York

by Andrew F. Smith

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The Pecan: A Culinary History
by Andrew F. Smith

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Did Hunger Defeat the Confederacy?
by Andrew F. Smith

Did Hunger Defeat the Confederacy PDF

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Chipping Away at British and American English
by Andrew F. Smith

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Historical Virtues of the Walnut
by Andrew F. Smith

Virtues of the Walnut PDF