March 29, 2011
“What does it mean to be both southern and Jewish?” Culinary historian Marcie Cohen Ferris will present a mix of oral history, archival resources and recipes that help answer that question, when she delivers the third annual Sam Hill Lecture in Southern Religious History, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in UNC Asheville's Humanities Lecture Hall.
The clash between Kosher laws and Jewish traditions on one hand, and traditional southern cuisines on the other, has created a special predicament, and region-specific forms of cultural and culinary adaptation, for many Jews. Ferris will examine the expressive power of food throughout Southern Jewish history, from the colonial era in Savannah and Charleston to the changing contemporary Jewish South in Memphis and the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta.
Ferris' book, "Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South," was nominated for the 2006 James Beard Foundation Award in the category of “Writings on Food” and was also recognized by the International Association of Culinary Professionals with their 2006 Jane Grigson Award for distinguished scholarship in research and presentation.
Ferris' current project is “The Edible South: Food and History in an American Region,” a social history of southern foodways – the cultural, social and economic practices that relate to food in the American South. “The Edible South” documents both the mythic and the daily meaning of food in the lives of generations of southerners using rich archival collections on southern history and important publications on southern foodways. Ferris is also co-editor of "Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History," and has published articles and chapters in numerous journals and anthologies.
Marcie Cohen Ferris is an associate professor in the department of American studies and coordinator of southern studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Ferris is the recipient of the University of North Carolina’s Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. She has served as president of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
The Sam Hill Lecture in Southern Religious History is a cooperative endeavor of the departments of Religious Studies and History at UNC Asheville, designed to bring distinguished scholars in the field of southern religious history to the campus. The annual lecture honors Sam Hill, one of the founding fathers of Southern religious history. A distinguished scholar and long-time professor at the University of Florida, Hill is now retired and lived until recently in Black Mountain, N.C.
For more information, contact the Department of Religious Studies at 828.250.2397 or the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville at 828.232.5027.