This bibliographic essay originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Choice (volume 56 | issue 11).
John T. Edge, director of the southern Foodways Alliance, writes in his introduction to the Foodways volume in the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture that in the last twenty years “America in general, the South in particular, has awakened to the cultural impact of regional foodways. Writers and researchers have applied rigor to the study of what we eat and why we eat it” and that “an appreciation of southern foodways has always depended on more than an examination of food on the table … [we] see food as a marker of class, gender, race, and ethnicity” (p. xix-xx).
Southern food studies, or foodways, is a growing interdisciplinary field that uses food as a defining aspect of the cultures and histories of the American South. The works chosen for this essay represent the foundations of southern foodways research as well as academic studies of the last two decades that serve as examples of the most common methodologies employed in the field. These works will assist researchers studying southern food studies and librarians building collections in this area. Since cookbooks serve as primary source documents in the food studies field—and no discussion of food is complete without recipes—this essay concludes with a selection of cookbooks that represent the diversity of contemporary southern cuisine and in other ways challenge popular conceptions of “southern food.”
Skye Hardesty is the head of collection development at Georgia State University in Atlanta and an avid reader and collector of cookbooks.