Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Journal of Arkansas Foodways

This just in from the University of Arkansas Newswire -  great to hear that our interest in food culture is shared with many others on campus!

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Libraries’ special collections department is launching a new journal, titled Arkansauce: The Journal of Arkansas Foodways. John G. and Dora J. Ragsdale of Little Rock, long-time supporters of Special Collections and Arkansas history, are endowing this project. The journal explores food history, customs and traditions in the Natural State. Rex Nelson, veteran journalist and author of Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried blog (“Ruminations on barbeque, politicking, football, frog gigging, trotlining, blues playing, horse racing, boxing, bird hunting, movie watching, crappie eating and other major issues of the day”) is guest editor for the inaugural issue.

Arkansauce is a mix of popular and semi-scholarly articles, heavily illustrated with original documents, drawings and photographs. It focuses on topics such as food history, nutrition, cooking, customs, table manners, chefs, food producers and production, restaurants, cookbooks, recipes, menus for both ordinary and special occasions, the culinary heritage of minority groups, immigrants, and specific geographic regions of Arkansas, as well as food-related poetry, mythology, and literature. Diane Worrell is managing editor, assisted by editorial board members Tom W. Dillard and Timothy G. Nutt.

Dillard, head of the University of Arkansas Libraries’ special collections department, said, “Arkansas offers a fertile field for inquiry into food — its history, traditions, folklore, and its current culinary scene too. I hope Arkansauce will serve to focus that inquiry.”

Contents of the first issue include an essay by Rex Nelson defining Arkansas cuisine; John J. Ragsdale’s description of foods his family ate during the Great Depression; an article by Michael B. Dougan about beans in Arkansas history; and Kane Webb’s discourse on Arkansas barbecue. Additionally, Tom DeBlack describes his favorite Arkansas Delta eateries; Trey Berry writes about the social role of small town mom and pop hamburger joints; Kat Robinson explores the cooking of fried green tomatoes; Louise Terzia discusses blackberry cobbler; and Ray Wittenberg describes his favorite pie shop in DeValls Bluff.

The journal also contains food-related pieces from manuscript collections and cookbooks held by the special collections department, such as a description of the oldest cookbook (1924) in special collections; a menu from a 1948 Hot Springs victory dinner celebrating Sid McMath’s gubernatorial victory; and a recipe for cooking steak by Charles J. Finger, a Fayetteville author and adventurer who died in 1941. The department is expanding its collection of foodways materials by seeking donations of Arkansas menus and other food-related items.

The journal will initially be distributed free of charge and published annually. To request a copy, send an email to To donate materials or obtain further information, call the special collections department at 479-575-5577.

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