Appalachia Appalachian Food

Crumble or Pour First?


“My friend Elliott Miller was hospitalized. During his recovery, one of the first meals he ordered from the hospital menu was buttermilk and corn bread. He poured his milk into a bowl, crumbled his corn bread into the milk, and ate with relish. I was surprised—didn’t he pour his milk over his corn bread? He looked at me equally stunned. “Pour buttermilk on corn bread?” he asked scornfully.

For a…rational intermediary, we turned to this uncle Joe Elliott, who has been eating corn bread and buttermilk since he was a farm boy. He was amused by our dispute. “There were twenty to feed on our farm,” he said. “Morning, noon, and night. When the women made the corn bread, they made at least four pans of it. With luck there was some left over when we came home from school.”

“We would pull out the largest mixing bowl we could find, and one would crumble the corn bread into pieces and the other would pour buttermilk into it or the other way around. We would take it around the house with spoons for all and lie sprawling out on our stomachs on the ground facing it, all digging into he same bowl, until it was all gone. ”

~Nathalie Dupree – “Southern Memories”


Funny how the way we’ve always done something seems like the only way it can be done…even when it comes to crumbling cornbread. I don’t eat cornbread and milk much, but if I did I’d crumble my bread first and then pour the milk over it. How about you—pour first or crumble first?



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  • Reply
    February 4, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    cornbread and sweet milk for me and I put the cornbread in the bowl first. So delicious.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2020 at 8:00 am

    I love cornbread and milk, anytime we have cornbread with a meal I am going to finish the meal with a small bowl of cornbread and milk. I call it desert. I always crumble the cornbread into a bowl and pour milk over it. Never been able to get a taste for buttermilk, it is ok to use it in cooking though. As for being chubby, I passed that a long time ago, I am just plain FAT, but boy did I enjoy getting there! By the way I ate cornbread and milk for my supper last night.

  • Reply
    Doug Bishop
    February 11, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    It’s the same with biscuits & gravy. Some serve biscuits halved on a plate with a bowl of gravy on the side .Some serve biscuits with gravy poured over them. Family tradition ?

  • Reply
    Janis M. Zeglen
    March 8, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I have eaten cornbread and milk for over 7 decades, and it is the best comfort food I know. We ate lots of it coming up and I always thought that it was because we liked it. We did like it but usually it was what we could afford. For supper it would be cornbread and buttermilk and a piece of raw onion, but for dessert it was cornbread and sweet milk (no onion). By the way, one always crumbles their cornbread and THEN pours the milk over it, whether it’s dinner or dessert!

  • Reply
    claude hurt
    January 21, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Don’t call it corn bread and milk. Just call it ” Chubby”‘ . Because if you eat a lot you will be chubby. And so happy.

  • Reply
    January 19, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    My mom used to eat cornbread and milk and she always put the bread in first so she wouldn’t get too much milk. I’ve never cared for it fixed that way, but makes sense, but most things it’s how we’re taught as we grow up. I like my cornbread warm and slathered with butter or plain either way. Also love to put it in a bowl of chili. Always put the chili in first and then crumble on top… for no reason other than I don’t want it getting too soggy I guess. My husband likes to take stale cake and put it in a glass and pour milk over it and eat it with a long-handled spoon. It’s so much fun to learn how everyone eats things!

  • Reply
    Sarah Thomas
    January 14, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    This is like the British debate over when and how to add milk to tea. Or, when making grilled cheese, whether you butter the bread, or melt butter in the pan!

  • Reply
    Aaron Patterson
    January 14, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Funny: but this brings to mind a “problem” we have with sandwich making at our house. I insist the mayo be spread right to left. Seriously. It does make a difference!

    • Reply
      January 5, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Now, THAT’S a connoisseur! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 14, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I use a large glass with a handle on it that was my Mother-in-Laws’Crumbled Cornbread and milk glass, I crumble about a quarter full, chop in bout a tablespoon of Vidalia onions, add milk, crumble almost full then finish with chopped Vidalia onions. When Ramps are in season I chop them up in place of the Onions. I then eat with kilt lettuce and Ramps when in season or kilt lettuce and green onions when Ramps aren’t available.

  • Reply
    Sue Simmons
    January 14, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Love cornbread and buttermilk any time of day or night, sometimes at breakfast it is better than steak or anything else. IT IS GREAT !!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    I like to crumble my Cornbread and then pour the sweet milk over it. In a bowl! !!!!God Bless.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    My wife limits me on the cornbread but not the milk. I crumble and then pour so I can get the proper mix. If I poured first I might have too much milk for the limited amount of bread. I also like cornbread and pinto bean soup, cornbread and soup, cornbread and chili, cornbread and peanut butter — get the point.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Anderson
    January 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    I crumble the bread into the buttermilk, prefer for the bread to be warm. My mother said when I was a toddler that I stood with my little tin cup waiting for the milk to be churned and she would give me a cup warm, right out of the churn.
    Love to eat onion with the buttermilk and bread.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    January 14, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Definitely crumble then pour. Whole milk is the best, but buttermilk is good too. And also, in a glass not a bowl.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 9:46 am

    don’t do milk…at all…can’t stand the flavor of it..i cook with it and stuff but just can’t drink it…i like my cornbread slathered with LOADS of butter though so much so its almost soggy with it…

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I think my daddy did it both ways. I can sure just see him with a glass crumbling cornbread into it and pouring milk over it. You could see the delight on his face as he took his first bite. I had my hot cornbread last night slathered with butter and ate it with a bowl of pinto beans and a slice of onion. Yum, Yum!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I love cornbread and I love milk, but I’ve never tried them in one bowl because I picture the cornbread getting soggy and falling apart into little crumbs before I could eat it all. Doesn’t it?

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 14, 2019 at 9:20 am

    I like cornbread with butter, honey, and sweet milk. If I poured the milk first, the butter wouldn’t melt and the honey
    would lump.

  • Reply
    Diane Tuttle
    January 14, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Crumble and pour. Buttermilk or sweetmilk. Brings back such precious memories of sitting in my grandfather’s lap when I was very young “helping” him eat “milk and bread”.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    January 14, 2019 at 8:37 am

    Sweet milk poured over crumbled cornbread with a side of onion and salt to dip the onion in.
    I knew a family that ate their milk and bread with all eating from same bowl.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 14, 2019 at 8:35 am

    Crumble, then pour. In a cup, not a bowl. And sweet milk, not buttermilk.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    January 14, 2019 at 8:35 am

    I have done it both ways and never gave it much thought since my thoughts were always on how good the milk and bread were going to be when I dug into it. Hardly ever have buttermilk with my cornbread, mostly whole sweet milk. That has served me well for the last 75 years and gives me incentive to continue.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 14, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I do both at the same time. I crumble cornbread loosely into a large glass and pour in enough sweet milk to fill it almost to the top. After a few minutes of soaking time I eat the cornbread leaving as much milk as possible. Then, depending on how hungry I am, I will crumble more cornbread into the milk and repeat the process until there is no more milk. When I am not so hungry, I will just eat out the cornbread and the drink the now corn flavored milk.
    I use the glass instead of a bowl because I want to get every last little bit of that goodness and it is bad manners to turn up a bowl.
    I love cornbread and buttermilk together but not mixed together. Side by side or maybe separated by some sliced onion and/or cucumber. That was my supper last night only the onion was chopped up and in a bowl of pintos!

    • Reply
      Sanford McKinney Jr
      January 14, 2019 at 9:59 am

      As God said about David, “A man after my own heart!”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 14, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Crumble first. I never thought about why before but, as had been posted already, that is way to best judge proportions of each.

    So …. do those who pour first or crumble first do the same with cereal; that is, cereal into milk or milk into cereal? I do milk into cereal. Where I vary is when I add cornbread to chili, beef stew, etc. But, when I do that, I am usually disappointed with the proportions.

    Anyway, as they say, that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

  • Reply
    Bob Creswell
    January 14, 2019 at 7:57 am

    Warm the cornbread in the microwave. Crumble it in a glass and poor sweet milk over it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 14, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Everyone in my house ate cornbread and milk but me. I was a picky little kid. Best that I can remember they put the cornbread in the bowl first then put the milk on top. Sometimes they would have the left over cornbread with cream of chicken soup over it or buttermilk.
    At Thanksgiving they ate left over dressing (made with cornbread, of course) with left over gravy over it and some chopped up turkey. Again, I was the picky little eater that would not touch it.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    January 14, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Crumble and pour. Lots of onion and black pepper. I can just see my precious Granny having a snuff glass of cornbread and milk before bedtime.

    • Reply
      Yvette Ridenour
      January 14, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Crumble and pour–and I also grew up having it with my Granny, with lots of onion! LOVE it!

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    January 14, 2019 at 6:20 am

    I don’t eat it, but it would make sense to pour tje milk over the cirnbread. Jow else could you be sure you had enough milk?

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 6:06 am

    I have dine both. Preferably with warm cornbread.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2019 at 5:23 am

    Not a fan of Buttermilk and cornbread, I use to eat cornbread and just plain milk, but lost the taste for it, but my wife and daughter love buttermilk and cornbread, crumble and pour is our normal way of doing it, that way you get more bread than milk and you don’t stand the chance of running the milk over the glass when you crumble the bread last.

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