University of Georgia Press

Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place

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Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place

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Hog Meat and Hoecake

Food Supply in the Old South, 1840-1860

Sam Bowers Hilliard

When historical geographer Sam B. Hilliard’s book Hog Meat and Hoecake was published in 1972, it was ahead of its time. It was one of the first scholarly examinations of the important role food played in a region’s history, culture, and politics, and it has since become a landmark of foodways scholarship.

In the book Hilliard examines the food supply, dietary habits, and agricultural choices of the antebellum American South, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He explores the major southern food sources at the time, the regional production of commodity crops, and the role of those products in the subsistence economy.

Far from being primarily a plantation system concentrating on cash crops such as cotton and tobacco, Hilliard demonstrates that the South produced huge amounts of foodstuffs for regional consumption. In fact, the South produced so abundantly that, except for wines and cordials, southern tables were not only stocked with the essentials but amply laden with veritable delicacies as well. (Though contrary to popular opinion, neither grits nor hominy ever came close to being universally used in the South prior to the Civil War.)

Hilliard’s focus on food habits, culture, and consumption was revolutionary—as was his discovery that malnutrition was not a major cause of the South’s defeat in the Civil War. His book established the methods and vocabulary for studying a region’s cuisine in the context of its culture that foodways scholars still employ today. This reissue is an excellent and timely reminder of that.

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The Larder

Food Studies Methods from the American South

John T. Edge

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.

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