[NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread titled "Traditional Southern cooking - cookbooks?" at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893232 -- The Chowhound Team]
Off-topic but related.
One thing I've learned from all these cookbooks is that it isn't just the recipes that matter, it's the ingredients, some of which are quite different from what we northerners use. Especially flour. In the south they use a softer, lower-protein, more finely milled flour, made from red winter wheat, and this supposedly makes a big difference in biscuits and quick breads, which are core southern foods. (Not cake flour, which has even less protein.)
The gold standard of southern flours is White Lily, or it used to be. A few years ago Smucker's bought the brand and promptly closed the Tennessee mill, producing the flour somewhere in the midwest. They claim they're using the same wheat and process, but apparently southern cooks can tell the difference just from the look and feel, before even baking with it, and non-cooks can tell the difference in taste tests.
So here's another question. Which soft flour is the best for southern cooking, among today's choices? Is it still White Lily or some other brand? I don't ordinarily order raw ingredients by mail, But if this makes such a difference, in this case maybe I should make an exception for flour. What do you think?