Book Review: Writing in the Kitchen by David A. Davis and Tara Powell

Title: Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways
Author: David A. Davis and Tara Powell 
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi 
Published: August 4, 2014
Page count: 224
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley

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Book Summary:

Scarlett O'Hara munched on a radish and vowed never to go hungry again. Vardaman Bundren ate bananas in Faulkner's Jefferson, and the Invisible Man dined on a sweet potato in Harlem. Although food and stories may be two of the most prominent cultural products associated with the South, the connections between them have not been thoroughly explored until now.

Southern food has become the subject of increasingly self-conscious intellectual consideration. The Southern Foodways Alliance, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, food-themed issues of "Oxford American" and "Southern Cultures," and a spate of new scholarly and popular books demonstrate this interest. "Writing in the Kitchen" explores the relationship between food and literature and makes a major contribution to the study of both southern literature and of southern foodways and culture more widely.

This collection examines food writing in a range of literary expressions, including cookbooks, agricultural journals, novels, stories, and poems. Contributors interpret how authors use food to explore the changing South, considering the ways race, ethnicity, class, gender, and region affect how and what people eat. They describe foods from specific southern places such as New Orleans and Appalachia, engage both the historical and contemporary South, and study the food traditions of ethnicities as they manifest through the written word.

 *The Chef's Review*

     My rating: 3/5 stars

     When I first started reading this book, I thought I was about to experience a read where I would find the warm and comforting thoughts that come up when you think of the southern ways. This book did not do that for me, it goes more to the side of facts. However, I did find it very useful.

     I am a recent culinary graduate in Mexico. Mexico is very rich in traditions, so it is very common for us to have a lot of background and stories in our dishes. That's what first drew me to this book. I wanted to find history and culture in the USA's dishes, and I think that starting in its southern cuisine is a good start. I believe what caught most my attention in Writing in the Kitchen was the story in the Appalachian Mountains. First of all, I didn't know that they existed! When you think of the USA all I used to see is LA, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Texas, etc.  I was happy to read, search and even watch videos of this place and I'm proud to say that I'm a little less ignorant. I loved them! Apalachian Mountains is an all natural wonderful side of the USA, full of wild life untainted with technology and modernism. Many culinary adventurers roam through that land in search for an experience and to open their mind a little on their culture and foodways ...  Aaaahhh, I sure would love that.

     Writing in the Kitchen is also full of movie and book references that you might enjoy. I for one, watched "The Help" movie (it's about housemaids, a certain pie, hard work combined with racism and how women in that time managed it) and dragged my mom and sister to watch it too, we all loved it! I encourage those people that like this kind of facts to read this book, you are sure to be entertained ;)

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