Southern Food Matters: Race, Class, and Gender in Tomatoes, Biscuits, and Greens

Tomato garden

Around the edges of the southern food story hide disorderly, collective, and communal stories: reports created by clubs that have since disappeared, silent photographs of diverse southerners who did not have enough to eat, literary glimpses of food markets and exchanges, cookbooks that insist on collaboration and community. Elizabeth Engelhardt, Professor of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas and Chair of the Department of American Studies, will share some of these stories that she’s uncovered in her research and how Austin relates to this larger story in this presentation. Her most recent books are A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food (2011) and Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (2009). She is co-editor of the forthcoming The Larder: Food Studies Methods from the American South, the first in a new book series from the Southern Foodways Alliance and the University of Georgia Press on southern food studies for which she serves as a Series Editor. A mess of greens, a can of tomatoes, and a pan of biscuits—some of the most humble southern foods–are, in fact, powerful symbols of what food can tell us and why food matters.
This program is part of a series of events related to the current exhibit at the AHC, “How to Prepare a Possum: 19th Century Cuisine in Austin.” The exhibit explores all avenues of early Austin food, including what food was indeed local, how food was prepared, how and where people shopped for food, what it cost, and where people went out to eat. The exhibit runs through January 10, 2014. The program is co-sponsored by the AHCA and is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.