Consuming IdentityThe Role of Food in Redefining the South

Consuming IdentityThe Role of Food in Redefining the South

Ashli Quesinberry Stokes and Wendy Atkins-Sayre

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496809186

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Many Southerners enjoy conversations about food, quickly jumping in with likes and dislikes, regional preferences, and food-related stories. The subject of food often crosses lines of race, class, gender, and region, and provides an opportunity for a common discussion point. This book explores the types of identities, allegiances, and bonds that are made possible and are strengthened through Southern foods and foodways. It adds to the growing list examining Southern food, but its focus on the cuisine’s rhetorical nature and the communicative effect that the food can have on Southern culture makes a significant contribution to that important conversation. The book tells the stories of Southern food that speak to the identity of the region, explaining how food helps to build individual identities, and exploring the possibilities of how food opens up dialogue. The authors show how food acts rhetorically, with the kinds of food that we choose to eat and serve sending messages about how we view ourselves and others. Food serves an identity-building function, factoring heavily into the understanding of who we are. The stories surrounding food are so important to Southern culture, they provide a significant and meaningful way to open up dialogue in the region. By sharing and celebrating the stories and actual food of Southern foodways, Southerners are able to focus on similar histories and traditions, despite the division that has plagued and continues to plague the South. Taken together, the book shows how Southern food provides a significant starting point for understanding food’s rhetorical potential.