Foodways

Breaking The Jemima Code

Oct 20, 2016
University of Texas Press

For more than 100 years, the dominant image of an African-American cook was that of Aunt Jemima. Her face appeared on pancake boxes and syrup bottles and carried a message implying that African-American cooks were uneducated, poor, and always working under the direction of white women.

photo of a spread at Grady's Barbecue in Dudley, N.C.
Rien Fertel

North Carolina is the number two producer of pigs in America, and barbeque is by most accounts the state’s food. But historian Rien Fertel argues that most barbecue writing is hyperbole. 

In his new book “The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook The Whole Hog,” (Touchstone/2016) he examines the history of the southern barbecue art, and the wide range of mythology surrounding the meat and those who tend to it.

Image of a plate of soul food, including fried chicken, mac and cheese, collards, and fried okra.
Flickr/Jennifer Woodard Maderazo

Adrian Miller calls himself a “recovering lawyer and politico turned culinary historian.” He went from working as a special assistant to former President Bill Clinton and a legislative director for former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to becoming a soul food scholar.

“Practicing law was not the thing for me,” Miller says.“I was singing spirituals in my office, so I figured I needed to do something else.”

Katy Clune

Hot, salty/smoky, sour/bitter, sweet, savory, and sharp: a flavor profile can evoke a particular style of food, and in turn, food can give insight to a community’s public health, history and policies. This week, students, faculty, entrepreneurs and community members at UNC-Chapel Hill gather to explore the history, politics and culture of North Carolina food using the six flavor profiles as a guide.

The State of the Plate conference will be held at the FedEx Global Education Center on Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28.