Edible North Carolina: The Power of Food and The Making of an American Region*


Edible North Carolina documents and shares the vibrant voices and places of North Carolina’s contemporary food movement---an exciting intersection of culinary excellence, creative entrepreneurship, changing populations, historic yet evolving foodways, and a commitment to protect and sustain food resources for generations to come. Twenty new, never-before-published works will be commissioned for this signature collection written by the state and region’s best journalists, farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs, scholars, and food activists. The first volume of its kind to expansively consider the power and reach of North Carolina’s food movement, this book convincingly argues how a vital food system contributes to the economy, attracts new residents, builds tourism, supports sustainable growth, and enhances the region’s image and reputation.

Edible North Carolina begins with a foreword by award-winning chef, restauranteur, writer, and native North Carolinian, Vivian Howard.  An opening essay follows by volume editor, Marcie Cohen Ferris, which will introduce the state’s many layered food landscape and discuss how and why a lively food movement has prospered here.  Each essay will be accompanied by an original recipe designed for the home cook. The essays will be illustrated by the breathtaking photography of Baxter Miller, a native North Carolinian and talented documentarian of the state’s diverse foodways, landscapes, and cultures. 

Watch the evolution of this project as it unfolds HERE.


The Edible South: The Power of Food and The Making of an American Region


In The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris presents food as a new way to chronicle the American South's larger history. Ferris tells a richly illustrated story of southern food and the struggles of whites, blacks, Native Americans, and other people of the region to control the nourishment of their bodies and minds, livelihoods, lands, and citizenship. The experience of food serves as an evocative lens onto colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and civil rights-era lunch counters, chronic hunger and agricultural reform, counterculture communes and iconic restaurants as Ferris reveals how food--as cuisine and as commodity--has expressed and shaped southern identity to the present day.

The region in which European settlers were greeted with unimaginable natural abundance was simultaneously the place where enslaved Africans vigilantly preserved cultural memory in cuisine and Native Americans held tight to kinship and food traditions despite mass expulsions. Southern food, Ferris argues, is intimately connected to the politics of power. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty, in southern history resonates in the region's food traditions, both beloved and maligned.


Matzoh Ball Gumbo : Culinary Tales of the Jewish South*


From the colonial era to the present, Marcie Cohen Ferris examines the expressive power of food throughout southern Jewish history. She demonstrates with delight and detail how southern Jews reinvented culinary traditions as they adapted to the customs, landscape, and racial codes of the American South. Richly illustrated, this culinary tour of the historic Jewish South is an evocative mixture of history and foodways, including more than thirty recipes to try at home.

*Nominated for a James Beard Award for Writing


A heartwarming, beautifully researched travel through Southern history that readers can really sink their teeth into. . . . Matzoh Ball Gumbo is literally a true taste of the good things in life emerging from the tragedies and triumphs of cultural diversity and the recipes . . . will be a high point of the book for any cook, any reader. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and Matzoh Ball Gumbo serves it to perfection."



Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History

Brandeis, 2006

Jews have long been a presence in the American South, first arriving in the late seventeenth century as part of exploratory voyages from Europe to the New World. Two of the nation’s earliest Jewish communities were founded in Savannah in 1733 and Charleston in 1749. By 1800, more Jews lived in Charleston than in New York City. Today, Jews comprise less than one half of one percent of the southern population but provide critical sustenance and support for their communities. Nonetheless, southern Jews have perplexed scholars. For more than a century, historians have wrestled with various questions. Why study southern Jewish history? What is the southern Jewish experience? Is southern Jewish culture distinctive from that of other regions of the country, and if so, why? Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History addresses these questions through the voices of a new generation of scholars of the Jewish South. Each of this book’s thirteen chapters reflects a response with particular attention paid to new studies on women and gender; black/Jewish relations and the role of race, politics, and economic life; popular and material culture; and the changes wrought by industrialization and urbanization in the twentieth century. Essays address historical issues from the colonial era to the present and in every region of the South. Topics include assimilation and American Jewish identity, southern Jewish women writers, the Jewish Confederacy, Jewish peddlers, southern Jewish racial identity, black/Jewish relations, demographic change, the rise of American Reform Judaism, and Jews in southern literature.