Bernard Herman captures Eastern Shore flavors in A South You Never Ate
in conversation with The Edible South author Marcie Cohen Ferris
Wednesday 11/20, 7 pm
Nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and stretching from Hampton Roads to Assateague Island, Virginia's Eastern Shore is a distinctly southern place with an exceptionally southern taste. In this inviting narrative, Bernard L. Herman welcomes readers into the communities, stories, and flavors that season a land where the distance from tide to tide is often less than five miles. Blending personal observation, history, memories of harvests and feasts, and recipes, Herman tells of life along the Eastern Shore through the eyes of its growers, watermen, oyster and clam farmers, foragers, church cooks, restaurant owners, and everyday residents.
Four centuries of encounter, imagination, and invention continue to shape the foodways of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, melding influences from Indigenous peoples, European migrants, enslaved and free West Africans, and more recent newcomers. Herman reveals how local ingredients and the cooks who have prepared them for the table have developed a distinctly American terroir--the flavors of a place experienced through its culinary and storytelling traditions. This terroir flourishes even as it confronts challenges from climate change, declining fish populations, and farming monoculture. Herman reveals this resilience through the recipes and celebrations that hold meaning, not just for those who live there but for all those folks who sit at their tables--and other tables near and far.
When he is not tending his oyster beds in the waters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Bernard L. Herman researches, writes, and teaches while serving as the George B. Tindall Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies and Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Marcie Cohen Ferris, professor of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is author of Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South and The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region.