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The Larder

Food Studies Methods from the American South

John T. Edge

Publication Year: 2013

The sixteen essays in The Larder argue that the study of food does not simply help us understand more about what we eat and the foodways we embrace. The methods and strategies herein help scholars use food and foodways as lenses to examine human experience. The resulting conversations provoke a deeper understanding of our overlapping, historically situated, and evolving cultures and societies.

The Larder presents some of the most influential scholars in the discipline today, from established authorities such as Psyche Williams-Forson to emerging thinkers such as Rien T. Fertel, writing on subjects as varied as hunting, farming, and marketing, as well as examining restaurants, iconic dishes, and cookbooks.

Editors John T. Edge, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and Ted Ownby bring together essays that demonstrate that food studies scholarship, as practiced in the American South, sets methodological standards for the discipline. The essayists ask questions about gender, race, and ethnicity as they explore issues of identity and authenticity. And they offer new ways to think about material culture, technology, and the business of food.

The Larder is not driven by nostalgia. Reading such a collection of essays may not encourage food metaphors. “It’s not a feast, not a gumbo, certainly not a home-cooked meal,” Ted Ownby argues in his closing essay. Instead, it’s a healthy step in the right direction, taken by the leading scholars in the field.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place


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pp. 1-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-x

...This collection emerged from the desire to bring together work in the emerging academic field of southern foodways. Our first thanks are thus to the numerous scholars, teachers, and students who have helped that field develop to a point that it can support and, we hope, benefit from its first...

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INTRODUCTION: Redrawing the Grocery: Practices and Methods for Studying Southern Food

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pp. 1-6

...As scholars of the U.S. South and southern food, my coeditors and I frequently engage popular and academic audiences. Recently I taught a class on southern food studies for adult learners in Austin, Texas. Attended by eight adults and one ten-year-old, the class was part of a program designed...

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pp. 7-9

...that made connections across races, eras, and stereotypes. Cookbooks have been helpful in building theoretical frameworks for judging when and where national or regional cuisines emerge, as anthropologist Arjun Appadurai did in his 1988 study “How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India...

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CHAPTER 1 “Everybody Seemed Willing to Help”: The Picayune Creole Cook Book as Battleground, 1900–2008

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pp. 10-31

...only one that can ever be made.” The demographics of New Orleans were shifting rapidly. The formerly enslaved people who toiled in the kitchens of their masters, including the many who continued to do so as freedwomen and men throughout the city, were fading away, and just “a few years more...

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CHAPTER 2 The Women of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Were Worried: Transforming Domestic Skills into Saleable Commodities in Texas

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pp. 32-56

...The women of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church were worried. Their fine new building in downtown Waco, Texas, was nine years old, and the congregation remained in debt. They pledged as a group to raise the great sum of $800 to help reduce the church’s financial embarrassment. But they had a...

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CHAPTER 3 Prospecting for Oil

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pp. 57-75

...Of all the quests that early American farmers and horticulturists pursued, none was more enduring and consequential than the pursuit of culinary oils and fats—something less expensive and more suitable for salad dressing than melted lard. From Thomas Jefferson’s failed attempts to grow olive...

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CHAPTER 4 Bodies of the Dead: The Wild in Southern Foodways

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pp. 76-94

...Among the papers of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission a worn clipping cries, “Water Valley Hides Bodies Of Its ‘Dead!’ Merovka Fails to Find Slaughtered Geese Slain on City’s Streets.” The story goes that on a winter night in 1932, a dense fog forced a flock of wild geese—probably...

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pp. 95-98

...conversation. Beth Latshaw, Justin Nystrom, Rayna Green, and Tom Hanchett employ quantitative and qualitative social science survey methods, rigorous oral history project design, labor analyses, demographic observations, and close readings of festivals and celebrations to rethink food studies...

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CHAPTER 5 The Soul of the South: Race, Food, and Identity in the American South

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pp. 99-127

...When I bring up my research on southern foodways, I am consistently asked two central questions: first, why study food, and second, why study food in relation to the American South? To begin, in the twenty-first century, it seems nearly impossible to ignore the omnipresence of food in American...

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CHAPTER 6 Italian New Orleans and the Business of Food in the Immigrant City: There’s More to the Muffuletta than Meets the Eye

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pp. 128-154

...“I was just a kid back then,” recalled John Gendusa. “My father had a route down in St. Bernard, so I would go with him down in St. Bernard. And we’d go down to the sugar refinery. . . . All these places had restaurants, [lots] of places up and down the river.” He remembered an old lady at the refinery’s...

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CHAPTER 7 Mother Corn and the Dixie Pig: Native Food in the Native South

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pp. 155-165

...Native food is in the news. Every day. All over the country, except in the South, farmers, chefs, environmentalists, and food writers are excited about Native food and foodways. That excitement usually comes from a “discovery” (or rediscovery) of the many virtues of old “slow” foods in the now hip...

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CHAPTER 8 A Salad Bowl City: The Food Geography of Charlotte, North Carolina

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pp. 166-184

...Exploring foodways can open up fresh perspectives on wider society. In my neighborhood along Central Avenue in Charlotte, North Carolina, ethnic restaurants and grocery stores started popping up in the 1990s. Today at the corner of Central and Rosehaven, you can park your car amid a jumble...

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pp. 185-187

...this section. When humanities scholars of food studies first looked to kindred disciplines for methodological inspiration, we learned from our colleagues in the fields of nutrition and family and consumer sciences. Historians such as Harvey Levenstein, Laura Shapiro, and Mary Hoffeschelle traced...

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CHAPTER 9 Eating Technology at Krispy Kreme

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pp. 188-215

...The social historian E. P. Thompson has argued that food should be understood not as a solid material for consumption but rather as a process within which every point offers “radiating complexities.” Thompson’s analysis concerns the dynamics of a working-class food revolt, yet his metaphor remains...

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CHAPTER 10 “America’s Place for Inclusion”: Stories of Food, Labor, and Equality at the Waffle House

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pp. 216-239

...Place to Work, America’s Place to Eat” but also “America’s Place for Inclusion.” While the claims Mayer and Rogers made about the profound national position of the Waffle House may be hyperbolic and even off -putting, these statements reflect the way Waffle House fans and Waffle House Incorporated...

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CHAPTER 11 “The Customer Is Always White”: Food, Race, and Contested Eating Space in the South

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pp. 240-272

...In 1964 Ollie’s Barbecue sat at the intersection of Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue South in Birmingham, Alabama. Ollie’s was a white-owned restaurant that offered table seating to white-collar businessmen and white families. Barbecue, nonalcoholic beverages, and homemade pies made up...

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pp. 273-275

...hundred years ago? Do the pots, pans, and cookbooks of our past represent the most or least used kitchen equipment? How do we “read” the food story if we have only have photographs and postcards? Can we approximate the sights and sounds and smells of the markets, kitchens, and tables? Can we...

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CHAPTER 12 The “Stuff ” of Southern Food: Food and Material Culture in the American South

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pp. 276-311

...It is late December and bitterly cold on the farm where my husband grew up in Warren County, Mississippi. The sky is steely gray, and it feels like it may snow. Two horses graze in the field below the house. A screen door slams, and Bill calls to me, “Lunch is ready.” I come downstairs, passing the old De...

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CHAPTER 13 The Dance of Culinary Patriotism: Material Culture and the Performance of Race with Southern Food

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pp. 312-332

...World War II powerfully influenced American farming and food production. Shortly after the war began, food rationing became mandatory. Ration books were the order of the day. Continuing the World War I theme of “Food will win the war,” farmers and factories increased production to grow...

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CHAPTER 14 “I’m Talkin’ ’Bout the Food I Sells”: African American Street Vendors and the Sound of Food from Noise to Nostalgia

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pp. 333-342

...Food easily appeals to four of the five senses: the feel of the soft fuzz of a ripe peach, the juicy taste of a sun-heated tomato, the sight of a dewdrenched bush laden with blueberries, or the pungent aroma of a fiery habanero. Sound, though, is usually left out of the culinary equation. The sizzle...

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...Warnes finds much to celebrate and much to approach with caution. He points out a collective temptation to see functioning communities, to romanticize easy cross-racial, cross-gender, cross-class affiliations, and to overstate the connections fostered by the study and consumption of food. Warnes criticizes the increasingly common misreadings of American studies...

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CHAPTER 15 Edgeland Terroir: Authenticity and Invention in New Southern Foodways Strategy

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pp. 345-362

...indeed. And yet, although already the subject of some academic debate, the sheer ubiquity of these buzzwords suggests that their relationship to each other requires still more attention. Quite how they reflect on each other remains, for many of us, unclear. If true generally, moreover, this need grows all the...

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CHAPTER 16 Conclusion: Go Forth with Method

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pp. 363-370

...I write to offer a few reflections on these essays, not as a scholar with training or teaching experience in foodways, but as a southern historian who has been observing the rise of southern foodways as a field. Some years ago, when the Southern Foodways Alliance began off ering programming that...


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pp. 371-374


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pp. 375-388

E-ISBN-13: 9780820346526
E-ISBN-10: 0820346527
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820346526

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos, 12 tables, 9 figures
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place