NPR

Grappling With Race, Class And Southern Food's Great 'Debt Of Pleasure'

In his book, The Potlikker Papers,
Source: Shelby Knowles

John T. Edge is a man who knows how spin a good yarn. Listening to him talk can feel like falling under the spell of your favorite college professor. He's wickedly smart, funny, warm and welcoming.

And for years, the tale he's been telling is all about Southern food: about its central role in Southern identity, and about what it owes to the African-American and immigrant cooks who have historically been left out of the standard narratives the South tells about itself.

In his new book, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, Edge attempts to pay down what he calls "a debt of pleasure to those farmers and cooks who came before me, many of whom have been lost to history."

"These were women, these were often times people of color who didn't get the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min readSociety
Do You Need That Surgery? How To Decide, And How To Pick A Surgeon If You Do
When you have a serious health problem that calls for surgery, the last thing you need is the stress of navigating the health care system to find a skilled surgeon. We have tips to make it easier.
NPR3 min read
Acting Head Of Customs and Border Protection Says New Asylum Rule In 'Pilot' Phase
"Although the new federal regulation allows us to apply that all 2,000 miles along the Southwest border, we're not going to do that," Mark Morgan told NPR.
NPR2 min read
Suspected Arson At Anime Studio In Japan Kills At Least 33 People
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the apparently deliberate act in Kyoto is "too appalling for words." A suspect has been taken into custody.