The Larder
Food Studies Methods from the American South

Edited by John T. Edge, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and Ted Ownby

A showcase of interdisciplinary methodologies in the study of food and culture


“Edge, Engelhardt, Ownby, and their contributors touch on issues familiar in southern studies—especially the roles of race, class, and gender—and do so in an exceptionally fresh and tangible way, through food. This is one of the best collections of food scholarship.”
—Warren Belasco, visiting professor of gastronomy at Boston University and author of Food: The Key Concepts 

“There exist collections of scholarship in food studies, of scholarship in southern studies in general, and of scholarship in southern food in particular, but no food studies collection I know of focuses mainly on methods. This is new and worthy of publication.”
—Amy Bentley, editor of A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Age

“Readers with cookbook collections will find this encyclopedia volume useful in learning about the ethnic, economic, social, and racial components of what they eat. The three editors have gone a long way in addressing the real complexities that exist—far beyond Mother Corn and the Dixie pig.”

"[The Larder] is dedicated to setting the historical record straight and to probing the illusions propagated by Southern food evangelists."
—Jennifer Jensen Wallach, The Times Literary Supplement

The Larder brings together some of the most recognized names in Southern food studies into a collection of essays that is bound to become required reading for any student of Southern culture. . . . The Larder is a text for any scholar turning to food ways for a new perspective on familiar subjects. The bibliographies and interstitial literature reviews are especially useful for new food scholars; they are packed tightly with essential reading in the field. The book can be mined for content . . . However, The Larder can also be mined for method, whether one is writing about New England clam chowder or California taco stands.”
—Carrie Helms Tippen, Journal of American Culture

"The expansion of the food studies movement—and we can confidently call it that—is due, in part, to the groundbreaking works on southern foodways by the editors John T. Edge, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and Ted Ownby. [T]he editors state their intention to focus on methods—how to study food, how to use the processes that have emerged in food studies. . . . [The Larder is] the first food studies work to raise the crucial topic of methodology, and it charts a promising trajectory for the field. If similar works follow, the future of food studies is limitless."
—Andrew F. Smith, The Journal of American History

"What in our past and present foodways do we value? To what mix of old and new, custom and change, ritual and improvisation, should we aspire? . . . The Larder as a whole is a valuable manifestation of just such moral questioning."
—Doris Witt, The Journal of Southern History

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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.

Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place

Page count: 344 pp.
18 b&w photos, 12 tables, 9 figures
Trim size: 6 x 9


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John T. Edge is the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the foodways volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Elizabeth Engelhardt is the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her other books include A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food (Georgia) and Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket. Ted Ownby is a professor of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi and is the director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. He is the author of American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture, 1830–1998 and Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865–1920.