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New Orleans

A Food Biography

Elizabeth M. Williams - Foreword by Ken Albala

Beignets, Po’ Boys, gumbo, jambalaya, Antoine’s. New Orleans’ celebrated status derives in large measure from its incredibly rich food culture, based mainly on Creole and Cajun traditions. At last, this world-class destination has its own food biography. Elizabeth M. Williams, a New Orleans native and founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum there, takes readers through the history of the city, showing how the natural environment and people have shaped the cooking we all love. The narrative starts with the indigenous population, resources and environment, then reveals the contributions of the immigrant populations, major industries, marketing networks, and retail and major food industries and finally discusses famous restaurants and signature dishes. This must-have book will inform and delight food aficionados and fans of the Big Easy itself.

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AltaMira Press
Pages: 202Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7591-2136-2 • Hardback • December 2012 • $44.00 • (£29.95)
978-1-4422-6962-0 • Paperback • April 2016 • $24.00 • (£15.95)
978-0-7591-2138-6 • eBook • December 2012 • $22.00 • (£14.95)
Elizabeth M. Williams is founder and president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, which celebrates the food of the American South, with exhibits, a library, archives, collections, and programming. SoFab is one of Saveur's "5 Great Museums Devoted to Food" (5/2011). Williams is also consulting professor at the Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism, University of New Orleans. Her roles there include teaching, writing, and researching issues in hospitality law, culinary history, and culture and nonprofit administration. She has contributed a number of articles on aspects of Southern food
to journals. Williams has a law degree and co-authored The A to Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law (2010).

Series Foreword, by Ken Albala

1. Introduction: A Real Cuisine
2. The Material Resources
3. The First Inhabitants and Their Foodways
4. The Old World in the New
5. Immigrants: Their Neighborhoods and Contributions
6. Markets, Retailing, and “Making Groceries”
7. Restaurants
8. Drinking in New Orleans
9. Cooking at Home and Cookbooks
10. Signature Foods and Dishes

About the Author

Only in New Orleans would our food be considered just as important as any person and worthy of its own biography! So, whether you’re a native New Orleanian or simply a fan of our cooking, just reading New Orleans: A Food Biography is sure to satisfy your craving. This book digs into the rich, centuries-old history of the many ethnic and geographic influences that have gone into making our cuisine so uniquely New Orleans.
Dickie Brennan, New Orleans chef/restaurateur

Liz Williams loads us into her time capsule for a journey to the mecca of New World cuisine. Through New Orleans: A Food Biography we experience the richness of the original fusion cuisine. New Orleans brought together every Western food tradition, and the Amerindian traditions, and over the centuries the glory that is New Orlean’s cuisine evolved. Like to eat? Read this now.
Dale DeGroff, master mixologist and author of The Craft of the Cocktail

Williams’s authoritative New Orleans: A Food Biography explains why New Orleans fare is what it is. Williams takes a comprehensive approach, detailing the many forces and establishments—from the Mississippi River, with its bounty of ship and freshwater fish, to the local grocery chain Schwegmann’s—that have shaped the way the city eats and cooks.

New Orleans: A Food Biography is the first in a projected series, "Big City Food Biographies," from AltaMira Press. The aim of the series is to focus on "those metropolises celebrated as culinary destinations, with their iconic dishes, ethnic neighborhoods, markets, restaurants, and chefs" and to provide "real biographies that will satisfy readers' desire to know the full food culture of a city." New Orleans, with its unique cuisine and urban culture, is an appropriate city in which to begin such a series. Williams (founder and president, Southern Food and Beverage Museum; Univ. of New Orleans) spends the first half of the book identifying the historical events, cultural influences, raw materials, and immigrant groups that greatly contributed to the creation of New Orleans cuisine. The second half of the book details restaurants, drinking culture, home cooking, and the signature New Orleans foods. The final chapter on New Orleans foods is the book's strength, highly readable and researched. The historical background provides necessary context for the evolution of New Orleans food, and a bibliography is provided). Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduates. -- S. C. Hardesty, Georgia State University

Williams, the director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, a New Orleans non-profit living history organization (southernfood.org), draws upon insights from history, economics, the law, and geography to craft a compelling book-length narrative from a considerable variety of data. . . This is all done very well. . . . The description of local foods in the final chapter and the bibliography are both also very useful, and the book is notable for its attention to more contemporary developments in New Orleans restaurant culture. ... New Orleans: A Food Biography is a book well worth reading and using. It evidences its narrative by a range of useful information from several fields; it includes the basics on many of the key people, institutions, and foods of the area; and it presents a picture of local foodways that will be accessible and interesting to students and general readers as well as scholars. I look forward to more books in this series.
Digest: A Journal of Foodways & Culture