By Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt
Combining the examine of meals tradition with gender experiences and utilizing perspectives from ancient, literary, environmental, and American reviews, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt examines what southern women’s offerings approximately nutrition let us know approximately race, classification, gender, and social power.
Shaken by way of the legacies of Reconstruction and the turmoil of the Jim Crow period, diversified races and sessions got here jointly within the kitchen, usually as servants and mistresses but additionally as individuals with shared tastes and traditions. commonly considering elite whites or bad blacks, southern foodways are usually portrayed as good and unchanging—even as an untroubled resource of nostalgia. A Mess of Greens deals a distinct standpoint, bearing in mind industrialization, environmental degradation, and women’s elevated position within the workforce, all of which prompted great monetary and social alterations. Engelhardt unearths a wide heart of southerners that incorporated bad whites, farm households, and center- and working-class African americans, for whom the stakes of what counted as southern foodstuff have been very high.
Five “moments” within the tale of southern food—moonshine, biscuits as opposed to cornbread, girls’ tomato golf equipment, pellagra as depicted in mill literature, and cookbooks as technique of communication—have been selected to light up the connectedness of nutrition, gender, and position. Incorporating group cookbooks, letters, diaries, and different archival fabrics, A Mess of Greens exhibits that identifying to serve chilly biscuits rather than scorching cornbread may well have an effect on a family’s recognition for being hygienic, ethical, proficient, or even godly.
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Extra info for A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food
3 At its best, moonshine tastes smooth and cool before its warmth hits you. The resurgences of craft and small-batch production today mean that we can sample from a range of top-end versions exhibiting a subtlety well beyond the rotgut of myth and song. Historians give three explanations for why people risked illegal distilling. The first dates back to the 1790s and the United States government’s initial major attempt to tax alcohol. That failed policy culminated in 1794 with the Whiskey Rebellion, in which fifteen thousand troops were called out for the first time against the nation’s own protesting citizens.
The town also had its own female moonshiner, who lived directly on the path between schoolhouse and church. During revival week, the schoolteacher made his pupils sing hymns in front of her house on their way to mandatory church services. One is tempted to imagine the woman sitting inside sipping some of her product and laughing—and perhaps she did enjoy her chosen career. But in truth, her life must have been incredibly difficult—as a single woman in the 1920s with a daughter to raise in a small town with few economic opportunities besides farming (and that difficult for a woman to do by herself and impossible without the means to own land).
It also makes visible the social relations and exercise of social power behind the sources. Rather than get lost in cataloging variation across the region and individuals or attempting sweeping comprehensive statements, I focus on five moments in the southern food story. Using archival materials, letters, diaries, literature, photographs, government records, and cookbooks, A Mess of Greens pairs specific food items or practices with particular communities in the U. S. 16 introduction South from the 1870s until the 1930s in order to tease out how diverse women used food to negotiate their own changing southern and American identities.