A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt

By Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt

Combining the research of nutrients tradition with gender stories and utilizing per­spectives from ancient, literary, environmental, and American reports, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt examines what southern women’s offerings approximately meals let us know approximately race, type, gender, and social power.

Shaken by means of the legacies of Reconstruction and the turmoil of the Jim Crow period, assorted races and periods got here jointly within the kitchen, usually as servants and mistresses but additionally as individuals with shared tastes and traditions. more often than not excited by elite whites or negative blacks, southern foodways are frequently portrayed as sturdy and unchanging—even as an untroubled resource of nostalgia. A Mess of Greens bargains a unique point of view, bearing in mind industrialization, environmental degradation, and women’s elevated position within the workforce, all of which triggered large monetary and social alterations. Engelhardt finds a vast heart of southerners that integrated negative whites, farm households, and heart- and working-class African americans, for whom the stakes of what counted as southern nutrition 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 indicates that settling on to serve chilly biscuits rather than sizzling cornbread may possibly have an effect on a family’s recognition for being hygienic, ethical, knowledgeable, or even godly.

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Extra resources for A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food

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Their counter-suggestion, that a wheat-flour biscuit recipe allowed women in the region to rebuild their own domestic safety nets, ushered them into further education, and answered the desperate social issues faced by southerners, is the subject of the following chapter. Moonshine stories here performed important cultural work for the nation by creating career women, active in public life, with control over their own bodies, who existed and even prospered without society coming to a halt. After the turn of the century, however, risk-taking, law-flaunting young women even more unsettling than Juletty, Mrs.

With tinges of social Darwinism, the first is a nativist argument that immigrants and African Americans were simply bad for America. In the epilogue, Gielow explicitly lists the racial and ethnic social tensions she saw wracking the nation: “The high percentage of illiterate native born whites in the Appalachian mountains is a menace to the future welfare of this country. We give millions every year . . for the education of emigrants and negroes [sic]. ” In other words, Gielow argued that “emigrants and negroes” threatened to take over the nation if whites remained uneducated.

Some years after the main action of the story, Brandon drives them around South Dakota and tells him her story. A multi-layered meditation, the book features narrative gaps, fragmented theories (both signaled by ellipses), and ambiguous speeches. 34 The major difference between Kit Brandon and earlier pieces is that Anderson stepped back from the construction of isolated Appalachia, moonshiners, or even “the South” to examine them as exactly that: inventions used strategically by different people at different times.

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