The Edible South

Greensboro, Alabama, c. 1935, photographed by Walker Evans, courtesy of the FSA Collection at the Library of Congress.

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The Edible South

by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Southern Cultures, Vol. 15, No. 4: The Edible South

"Even as southern populations (and landscapes) have evolved, food and place remain indelibly linked in the southern imagination."

My mother-in-law, Shelby Flowers Ferris, has kept a daily journal for over forty years. These are not personal diaries in which she shares her “feelings”—which I imagine seem self-indulgent to such a practical woman—but rather carefully recorded details about daily meals, celebrations, family comings and goings, and social obligations surrounding life on a farm near Vicksburg, Mississippi. Food provides much of the descriptive detail in these yearly-annotated calendars. An April 22, 1972, entry, for instance, notes the following menu at noon: “baked ham, beaten biscuits, stuffed eggs, potato salad.” The same meal could have been served in Vicksburg in 1872, was eaten in the spring of 2002, and will likely be enjoyed as long as the Ferris Family gathers together at the farm.