Although many Americans associate biscuits with southern cooking, biscuits date back to the Medieval Period. Those biscuits, which later became known as "hardtack," barely resemble the biscuits we know and love.Â Biscuit comes from the Latin bis, twice, and coquere, cook. Originally, Italian biscotti and German zwieback were actually baked twice in order to achieve a dry crispiness. Since biscuits remained "fresh" for a long time, they were taken on sea voyages and used as military rations. Hard and flavorless, these "biscuits" proved the bane of many a French soldier.
Today, however, biscuits refer to a light, flavorful bread served with gravy, honey, butter, or even jelly. Regional variations in biscuits, like flaky in northern states and crumbly in more southern areas, developed from divergences in technique. In some plantation kitchens, biscuits were beaten with a rod, while in other kitchens cooked rolled the dough out.
Whether you enjoy your biscuits savory or sweet, they're a delicious accompaniment to any meal.