The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South
John T. Edge
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Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, here traces the “Food History of the Modern South,” (an era that he says began in the 1950s with “a fight for social justice and civil rights that should have been won with the surrender at Appomatax”).
A central tension in his account is the slippery, shifting public identity of Southern fare: was it the cheap, messy cooking of unsophisticated subsistence farmers or the tradition-preserving, farm-to-table cuisine of people who valued the land? And what about the contributions of black folks? Certainly there are parties both within and outside the South happy to advance a host of competing ideas. Edge falls into the camp of those who feel that a clear-eyed examination of history, uncomfortable truths and all, is the surest path to bolstering the renewed vitality of this most distinct of American culinary regions.