In a time when books about food can be anything from bold ethnographies to brand extensions, Edible North Carolina: A Journey Across a State of Flavor (UNC Press, 2022) is
In a time when books about food can be anything from bold ethnographies to brand extensions, Edible North Carolina: A Journey Across a State of Flavor (UNC Press, 2022) is at once many things and one thing. It’s a deep dive into the convergence of history and agriculture; it’s a conversation with farmers and entrepreneurs; it’s a book of recipes that are rooted in the soul of the state. At its core, however, Edible North Carolina is a pilgrimage from mountains to coast, detailing how history and policy exert outsize influence on not just what we eat but also how and why. Marcie Cohen Ferris examines this relationship by amplifying North Carolina’s greatest resource: its people.
The book is organized around the individuals whose life’s work is the land, sea, and scholarship of North Carolina. Evocative essays — and cinematic photography by Baxter Miller — draw the reader in and the reflective questions out. A chorus of voices, from academics and activists to chefs and journalists, sings the praises of the state while also acknowledging the crippling challenges that go unaddressed. A thoughtful book about foodways cannot exist without an honest discussion of the sociopolitical apparatuses that propel some and punish others. Ferris leans into the bitter bits of North Carolina’s past, recognizing that they, too, offer a vital flavor.
This richly researched body shows how centuries-old food traditions still have the muscle to engineer how a place informs tastes, and how shifting tastes can also inspire a place. Through well-rendered accounts and stories with spice and bite, Edible North Carolina is required reading for anyone who calls this place home.print it