Getting a Taste of the South

English teacher Lindsay O'Connor, PhD, and her student, Candace K. ’19, share details of a recent tasty project in the American South: A Global Perspectives class, offered this fall. 

From Dr. O'Connor
With Southern cooking making its way to fine dining establishments all over the US, and with celebrity chefs like Paula Deen and Emeril Lagasse bringing regional specialties some fame, food is a natural addition to a class on the American South. Always looking for activities and projects that can help the class live up to its full title, the American South: A Global Perspective, I saw routes from Soul Food to native crops and cooking styles of West Africa and from Southern specialties to the history of American innovation and cultural change.
For this project, each student focused on a dish they associate with the South — personal and family favorites welcome — researched its history and the history of its ingredients, as well as how it came to be associated with the South. They also found and analyzed an artwork, work of literature, or media item that represents their food in some way, and perhaps most importantly, they compared a few recipes and cooked their dish to share. Students learned how to research an unusual topic and how to cite texts like cookbooks and handwritten recipes from grandparents. In conversation with classmates and with students, faculty, and administrators who came to their presentations, they reflected on food's relationship to history, culture, and family.

From Candace K. ’19
When I first found out that I would be doing research on a southern food, I knew exactly what I wanted to do — collard greens. I chose collard greens because it is a dish I have always enjoyed, and thought, why not do research on it? I learned so much from having to research the history and now understand more about it.

Cooking and presenting the food was my favorite part. The recipe I used is what my family uses during Thanksgiving. I have to admit that, at first, I was pretty nervous having to cook for the class along with the others who came to watch the presentations, but I believe this project was successful overall.
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