Tag Archives: new year

Black-Eyed Peas, Tradition, and the New Year

When it comes to ushering in a new year filled with good fortune and prosperity, certain foods are said to bring good luck. Every culture has variations, but a recurring theme is that black-eyed peas—resembling coins or closed circles signifying the end of one year and success in the next—symbolizes a positive direction in the upcoming year.

One explanation of the superstition says that black-eyed peas were all the Southern slaves had to celebrate with on the first day of January, 1863—the day when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. From then on, peas were always eaten on the first day of January.

In Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, Kelley Fanto Deetz draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records, and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond. Deetz not only uncovers their rich and complex stories and illuminates their role in plantation culture, but celebrates their

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living legacy with the recipes that they created and passed down to future generations.

Below is an excerpt from Bound to the Fire:


Ingredients and recipes tell the history of enslaved cooks, from their ancestral homes in West Africa, throughout the middle passage, and into Anglo kitchens, where their talent became irreplaceable.

[. . .]

It is challenging to tease out the precise influences of West African foodways in the colonial Virginia. Colonists were transferring a plethora of foodstuffs, some of which were West African in origin, and quickly became part of the Virginian and Atlantic cuisine. What culinary historian James C. McCain calls the Atlantic Circulation, also known as the “Columbian Trade” drastically transformed the global markets, which were previously semi-bound to land. 

Black-eyed peas, okra, millet, and yams are some ingredients which directly transformed both the new colonies’ crops as well as the dinner table. However, the essence of culinary influence is not simply found in these key ingredients, but rather in the techniques of the African cook, whose memories, creativity, and effort transformed crops into cuisine. While many different factors helped flavor the plantation cuisine, the Igbo’s use of okra is one of the most prevalent legacies in Southern foodways. Used as a thickening agent, enslaved cooks relied on this ingredient and one can assume it became a good substitute for a roux. Presumably enslaved cooks had knowledge, either first-hand or passed down, of making certain foods from their homeland. For example, palm wine was a common staple in many parts of West Africa, as was fried foods and stews. Their organic culinary knowledge was easily transferable to the needs of elite plantation culture.

[. . .]

Enslaved plantation cooks singlehandedly transformed American food, and gave birth to Southern cuisine. The West African ingredients and cooking techniques passed down through generations melded with the European methods and ingredients and allowed cooks to author distinct menus. These contributions are undeniable, yet often their cultural roots were ignored, and forgotten.

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ICYMI: Holiday News Break Edition

Welcome back from the holiday break! Pardon us while we brush off the cobwebs and shake out the mothballs in our brains…

Our break was full of all kinds of exciting news and tidbits, like this fascinating article from Terri Crocker (The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory, and the First World War) in the New Republic:

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“Perhaps it is time we stopped expecting history to behave like a good story—featuring obvious heroes and villains, a dash of irony and a clear moral, with a football match thrown in for good measure—and start assuming it looks more like real life: messy, inconclusive and hard to pin down. Since history is, after all, just life that happened in the past, it’s time for us to get over our need for simplicity, and accept that the past, just like the Christmas truce, is always a lot more complicated than we want to believe.”—Terri Crocker for the New Republic

Crocker also published an editorial, “Civility: The True Lesson of World War I’s 1914 Christmas Truce” in the Lexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal.

Over the break we also celebrated Bradley Birzer’s russell_kirk7.inddRussell Kirk: American Conservative, a biography of the great public intellectual, being named one of the Library of Michigan’s Notable Books of 2016. Kirk’s The Conservative Mind shaped conservative thought in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Elsewhere, Russell Kirk was listed as one of the Best Books of the Year by Daniel McCarthy, editor of the American Conservative

The high-flying, tumbling, falling, gutsy heroines in Molly Gregory’s Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story have been featured in the New York Timesthe New Republic, Variety.com, on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and now in the Washington Post.

“Much like the story of women in almost any industry, this one is a tale of struggle, progress and tempered triumph. . . . In her engaging and enlightening book, Gregory digs into this little-known corner of Hollywood history and gives voice to the women who have risked their lives for a few (perilous) moments on the big screen.”—Becky Krystal, Washington Post

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For the late holiday shoppers, The Baltimore Sun suggested Lincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of Our Greatest President, and the Louisville Courier-Journal had a whopping 38 suggestions for local books to give as gifts, including: Kentucky By Design, The Birth of Bourbon The Manhattan Cocktail, and Venerable Trees.

Bawden_Miller_CoverThis morning, on the first day back in the office after break, we were greeted with a lovely surprise from the inimitable columnist Liz Smith, who offers this excellent preview of Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood’s Golden Era, one of our most anticipated books of 2016!

“[A] dazzlingly entertaining new book. . . . [Conversations with Classic Film Stars] is a treasure trove of info, scintillating gossip and outright, downright dishing.”—Liz Smith, New York Social Diary

We hope you had a restful holiday (or a grand adventure!) Holler at us in the comments or on Twitter and let us know how you spent your winter break.

At Year’s End

LyonCvrCompFinal2.inddIt’s the darkest time of year when the days are longest;  and, more and more, all of us here at the University Press of Kentucky are finding ourselves curled up with a book of an evening.

Perusing A Kentucky Christmas, our Marketing and Sales Director (Amy) was struck again by the late, great James Still’s classic poem “At Year’s End.” Even after twenty years, something about this poem speaks to us during this season. Here it is just as it appears in A Kentucky Christmas with Still’s own special inscription:

At_Years_End

Start the New Year with New Books

A very Happy New Year to everyone and welcome back from the holiday! Its always tough to head back to work, but to make the transition a little easier we have lots of great new books to keep your mind relaxed and maybe even fill up that brand new e-reader you got for the holidays! UPK books are available on our website, or your favorite local or big box book store.

The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh

Edited by R. Barton Palmer and Steven M. Sanders

$35.00 Cloth and eBook

Widely regarded as a turning point in American independent cinema, Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape (1989) launched the career of its twenty-six-year-old director, whose debut film was nominated for an Academy Award and went on to win the Cannes Film Festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or. The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh breaks new ground by investigating salient philosophical themes through the unique story lines and innovative approaches to filmmaking that distinguish this celebrated artist.

Editors R. Barton Palmer and Steven M. Sanders have brought together leading scholars in philosophy and film studies for the first systematic analysis of Soderbergh’s entire body of work, offering the first in-depth exploration of the philosophical ideas that form the basis of the work of one of the most commercially successful and consistently inventive filmmakers of our time.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

Edited by Pradyumna P. Karan and Shanmugam P. Subbiah

$40.00 Cloth and eBook

On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami triggered by an underwater earthquake pummeled the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other countries along the Indian Ocean. With casualties as far away as Africa, the aftermath was overwhelming: ships could be spotted miles inland; cars floated in the ocean; legions of the unidentified dead—an estimated 225,000—were buried in mass graves; relief organizations struggled to reach rural areas and provide adequate aid for survivors. Shortly after this disaster, researchers from around the world traveled to the region’s most devastated areas, observing and documenting the tsunami’s impact.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster offers the first analysis of the response and recovery effort. Editors Pradyumna P. Karan and S. Subbiah, employing an interdisciplinary approach, have assembled an international team of top geographers, geologists, anthropologists, and political scientists to study the environmental, economic, and political effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

New in Paper!

The Lost State of Franklin: America’s First Secession

By Kevin T. Barksdale

$25.00 Paper

In the years following the Revolutionary War, the young American nation was in a state of chaos. Citizens pleaded with government leaders to reorganize local infrastructures and heighten regulations, but economic turmoil, Native American warfare, and political unrest persisted. By 1784, one group of North Carolina frontiersmen could no longer stand the unresponsiveness of state leaders to their growing demands. This ambitious coalition of Tennessee Valley citizens declared their region independent from North Carolina, forming the state of Franklin. The Lost State of Franklin: America’s First Secession chronicles the history of this ill-fated movement from its origins in the early settlement of East Tennessee to its eventual violent demise. Author Kevin T. Barksdale investigates how this lost state failed so ruinously, examining its history and tracing the development of its modern mythology.

The Lost State of Franklin presents the complete history of this defiant secession and examines the formation of its romanticized local legacy. In reevaluating this complex political movement, Barksdale sheds light on a remarkable Appalachian insurrection and reminds readers of the extraordinary, fragile nature of America’s young independence.

We’ll Always Have the Movies: American Cinema during World War II

By Robert McLaughlin and Sally E. Parry

$30.00 Paper

During the highly charged years of World War II, movies perhaps best communicated to Americans who they were and why they were fighting. These films were more than just an explanation of historical events: they asked audiences to consider the Nazi threat, they put a face on both our enemies and allies, and they explored changing wartime gender roles. We’ll Always Have the Movies shows how film after film repeated the narratives, character types, and rhetoric that made the war and each American’s role in it comprehensible. Robert L. McLaughlin and Sally E. Parry have watched more than six-hundred films made between 1937 and 1946—including many never before discussed in this context—and have analyzed the cultural and historical importance of these films in explaining the war to moviegoers. This extensive study shows how filmmakers made the chaotic elements of wartime familiar, while actual events became film history, and film history became myth.

Culinary Tourism

Edited by Lucy M. Long

$25.00 Paper

Culinary Tourism is the first book to consider food as both a destination and a means for tourism. The book’s contributors examine the many intersections of food, culture and tourism in public and commercial contexts, in private and domestic settings, and around the world. The contributors argue that the sensory experience of eating provides people with a unique means of communication. Editor Lucy explains how and why interest in foreign food is expanding tastes and leading to commercial profit in America, but the book also show how tourism combines personal experiences with cultural and social attitudes toward food and the circumstances for adventurous eating.