Marcie Cohen Ferris, a UNC American studies professor, regularly attends CHOP NC meetings. Garner’s fourth book was required in her course exploring the history and contemporary politics of food in North Carolina.
“Bob Garner is a great authority on North Carolina foodways and the distinctive food cultures on different regions of North Carolina,” she said. “He’s really honored the social history of North Carolina in the way he uses food as a way to understand families, communities, values through what they put on the table.”
When he wasn’t busy exclaiming his signature “mmm-mmm!” at the hundreds of restaurants he visited, Garner appeared on the Food Network’s “Paula’s Home Cooking,” “FoodNation with Bobby Flay,” the Travel Channel’s “Road Trip” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He also authored a 10-part series, “Bob Garner Eats” for Our State magazine.
Although he’s a successful author and established journalist now, Garner said his college career was anything but exemplary.
“I don’t want to come across as having all this sage advice — I think I’ve probably screwed it up as many ways as you could screw it up,” he said. “But when I tried everything the wrong way, I’d come around to the right way.”
Unlike his first three books, “Foods that Make You Say Mmm-mmm” will expand beyond barbecue and take the reader on a culinary trip around North Carolina. It covers classics as well as obscure traditions, such as Neuse River fish stew and livermush, which Garner jokingly described as congealed gloppity-glop.
Ferris said the book was important because it reflects the color and flavor of North Carolina food cultures beyond barbecue.
“He understands the expressive power and the language of food in our state,” she said. “It’s so much more than cuisine — it’s history.”