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Who in heaven’s name came up with calling a fried ball of sweetened dough “Hush Puppy”? Many folks from up north confuse our hush puppy with a fritter. True, both are fried and appear somewhat similar, but a fritter is absolutely and completely different. First of all, the word fritter is a corruption of the French word, friture, from the Latin, frigere, which means, to fry. Thousands of years ago the Romans and Greeks mixed up milk, eggs, spices and honey with flour to batter their fish before deep frying. The left-over batter was rolled into shapes and fried with the fish. Medieval batters contained wine or ale, sometimes cream, and lots of eggs. These egg batters could also contain meat, fish or fruit and were fried in lard. Apple fritters, were lavished with sugar when it was available. Doctors condemned all fritters as indigestible, but, just like the donut of today, no one cared because they were irresistible. On Shrove Thursday before Lent during the Middle Ages, a mixture made of flour, yeast, milk, butter, eggs and orange flowers were called Bugne. They were fried and then cut into ribbons which were then knotted and sold in the streets still dripping with hot grease. Sort of the same idea as our Mardi Gras Funnel Cake.

But, these were fritters, not hush puppies. Hush puppies are made with corn meal. The Dictionary describes the hush puppy as a dumpling, but this is all wrong. Sure, it’s shaped like a dumpling, but a dumpling is kin to Italian pasta and German Spatzle and Oriental cookery. Plain or filled with meat or vegetables, they are made from flour or stale bread or potatoes and can be flavored with herbs and spices. The dumpling is served in soups or stews and has absolutely no social pretensions. Hush puppies are always made with corn meal. And, you will not find anything more ethnically pretentious. They are not American- they are Southern. We Floridians take credit for inventing the hush puppy in the early 1900s. According to our legend, the term originated from hunters who tossed fritters to the dogs to keep them quiet. But, everyone knows that a good hunting dog isn’t going to spoil a hunt by barking at a deer or turkey, even if he’s hungry. Besides, any decent hunter feeds his dogs first. Knowledgeable historians from below the Mason-Dixon Line know that the term came from brave Confederate soldiers defending their country with their regiments in the trenches of Vicksburg and Atlanta. Cooking their catfish over the open fire was one of their only pleasures and they weren’t going to ruin it by being discovered by the Union Army because the dogs who smelled their feast were howling. More important, they would rather share their delicacy with the dogs than anyone wearing a dark blue jacket! So, when the excess cornmeal breading fell off the fish into the boiling fat, it was thrown to the dogs to keep them quiet. "Hush, Puppy!"

There are as many recipes for hush puppies as there are old Florida fishermen. Forgiveness is requested for any additions, subtractions and substitutions for those fondly remembered.

Yield: 6-8 Servings

2 cups white cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole buttermilk
1 jumbo graded egg, beaten
6 tablespoons chopped sweet onions
Oil or fat to half fill a deep fryer with a basket

1. Heat the oil to the boiling point, 370*F.
2. Sift dry ingredients together.
3. Stir in the buttermilk, the beaten egg and the chopped onions.
4. Immerse the basket into the boiling fat to become hot. Drop the batter by small spoonfuls into the basket. When the hush puppies are done, they will float to the top. Drain on paper toweling.

Yield: 6 Servings

2 cups white cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour|
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 finely-chopped small jalapeño pepper
1 jumbo graded egg, beaten
2 cups half-and-half
Oil or fat to half fill a deep fryer with a basket

1. Heat the oil to the boiling point, 370*F.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together.
3. Add egg and half-and-half, stirring well to combine. (Add the jalapeño.)
4. Immerse the basket into the oil to become hot.
5. Drop the batter by level tablespoons into the basket. Fry 3-5 minutes until they turn golden brown and float to the top. Dry on paper toweling.

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Food Protection Manager Certification Examination Exp. 9/14/2015