We had the pleasure of catching John T. Edge, director of The Southern Foodways Alliance, at Book People in Austin, Texas last week! Presenting his latest work, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, Edge spoke regarding how Southerners impacted American cultural identity as well as how race relations changed food culture in the South over the past six decades to a full house. Taking its name from what was once a salvage food, masters from the antebellum era ate potlikker greens from the pot and saved the broth for their slaves, unaware that the broth was rich and full of nutrients. Potlikker sustained the the working poor post slavery, and now takes on new meaning as chefs today reclaim the dish.
Edge has remained director of The Southern Foodways Alliance since its founding in 1999. A winner of the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, he regularly writes columns for Garden & Gun and Oxford American as well as teaches in the low-residency Narrative Non-Fiction MFA program at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. Southern Foodways Alliance’s aim is to study, document and explore the diversity of food cultures in Southern United States. Based at the University of Mississippi’s Center of the Study of Southern Culture, the non-profit and member-supported organization collects oral histories as well as produces films, podcasts and writing that serve as progressive catalysts for the greater South. Learn how you can become a member here.