Bernie Herman, a UNC professor of American studies and folklore, is coming to Flyleaf Books on Wednesday, Nov. 20, to let audiences chew on “A South You Never Ate.”
Herman has written many books, and his newest, “A South You Never Ate,” illustrates his journey through discovering the foods of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This small geographic area is made up of two counties that are not physically attached to Virginia, but to Maryland. Herman said many Virginians don’t know that this place exists.
“The county that I did most of my work in has the longest history of sustained poverty in the state of Virginia and has lost population every census since 1930, and I began to think — and I have long ties to this place — I began to ask myself the simple question: What does meaningful and sustainable economic development look like?” Herman said.
Herman said the style of cuisine in the Eastern Shore of Virginia is similar to that of the “sound country” of North Carolina, but he sees a unique quality in the Eastern Shore's food. Herman has spent over a decade researching the "taste of place" of this area.
“You just ask yourself, 'What does this place do best?' and it is always farm and fish," Herman said. "And over the last many centuries, long before Europeans arrived, it began to develop a distinctive southern cuisine that is as exceptional as what you would find in the lowcountry of South Carolina or the Bayou country of Louisiana, except it hasn't experienced a kind of Renaissance that those places have.”