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The Edible South by Marcie Cohen Ferris

December 15, 2014
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In The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris, author Matzoh Ball Gumbo and past president of the Southern Foodways Alliance, demonstrates that food, in ways large and small, as cuisine and as commodity, impacted key moments and events that shaped Southern identity over five centuries.

Beginning with the Early South, including the Plantation South, and concluding with the Modern South, in which counterculture co-ops and farmers markets, New Southern cuisine and small-scale farming and local food economies all make an appearance, she tells the story of the South through its food, exploring ways that food and access to it shaped events and how events also shaped cuisine.

In various sections covering New Orleans, she explores the link between cuisine and historic restoration in New Orleans, the role women like Lena Richard and Mary Land played in the branding of Louisiana cuisine, different origin narratives of Creole cookery and the evolution of the word “Creole” from a historical interaction between various groups in a specific area to a word that can generally mean local, especially when referring to food items. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, as well as privilege and poverty, in Southern history resonates in the region’s food history, both beloved and maligned. In Ferris’s words, “Rather than being an encyclopedic overview of cuisine, The Edible South steps beyond the iconic dishes and recipes of southern food to understand a cultural conversation found in the historical interactions of southerners across time.”

The Edible South: The Power of Food in an American Region
by Marcie Cohen Ferris (UNC Press)

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