Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South - Cover
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Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South

An Informal History

updated edition

introduction by John Egerton

200 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / 5 Halftones

Southern History

  Paperback / 9780807133514 / February 2008

A lively, informal history of over three centuries of southern hospitality and cuisine, Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South traces regional gastronomy from the sparse diet of Jamestown settlers, who learned from necessity to eat what the Indians ate, to the lavish corporate cocktail parties of the New South. Brimming with memorable detail, this book by Joe Gray Taylor ranges from the groaning plates of the great plantations, witnessed by Frederick Law Olmsted and a great many others, to the less-than-appetizing extreme guests often confronted in the South's nineteenth-century inns and taverns: "execrable coffee, rancid butter, and very dubious meat."

Taylor describes the diet of the early pioneers, with its corn bread, beaver-tail soup, and black bear meat, and the creation of the South's regional cuisines, including Kentucky's burgoo and south Louisiana's gumbo. He tells of the rounds of visitation that were the social lifeblood of the Old South, of the fatback and hoecake that fed plantation slaves, and of the starvation diet of the Confederate soldier and civilian. Taylor then looks at how technological advances and urbanization have in some cases enhanced, but more often diluted, the southern eating experience, and he finds that despite the introduction of fast-food "abominations" and factory-made horrors such as quick grits and canned biscuits, the region's sturdy eating, drinking, and social traditions still flourish in many byways and on some main avenues of the modern South. In a new introduction, noted food writer John Egerton looks at what motivated Joe Gray Taylor to undertake this fine study and discusses how southern food studies have progressed since the book was first released. 

Joe Gray Taylor (1920-1987) was professor and head of the Department of History at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana. He is the author of Louisiana Reconstructed, 1863-1877 and Louisiana: A Bicentennial History, among other books, as well as recipient of both the Louisiana Literary Award and the L. Kemper Williams Prize for History in 1976.

John Egerton lives in Nashville, Tennessee and writes about the South. He is the author of Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History, Side Orders: Small Helpings of Southern Cookery and Culture, and The Americanization of Dixie.

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