Food - Drink
The Ingredient Traditional Cornbread Never Uses
By WENDY LEIGH
To dive into the food culture wars between the northern and southern U.S., there's no better dish to start with than cornbread. Southerners are the proud originators of this dish, and most of them have opinions on what does and doesn't belong in proper cornbread; if you add this ingredient to your recipe, not is it untraditional, but borderline sacrilegious.
Corn has fed families in the American south for decades, and if you look at some of the oldest cornbread recipes around, one ingredient is entirely absent: sugar. Deep South cooks claim that no self-respecting Southerner would add sugar to their cornbread, but since northern cooks aren't held to this rule, they usually don't follow it.
Northern recipes for cornbread almost always contain sugar, or another sweetener like molasses or maple syrup, creating a sweet and cake-like result. Many northern bakers don't sweat over southerners' opinions that proper cornbread is never sweetened, and is to be served alongside savory dishes, not as a cakey dessert.