Exhibit Features Cookbooks from Southern Miss' Special Collections

The culinary collections at Southern Miss tell innumerable stories about how we eat and who we are. There are canonical works by the French “King of Chefs” Auguste Escoffier and American culinary innovators Fannie Farmer and Julia Child, but the exhibit currently on display at Cook Library, Half Baked and Hungry: Cookbooks in Special Collections at Southern Miss, also features works by everyday Americans struggling to make every family meal a special event.

A manuscript cookbook, for example, consisting of handwritten recipes and pasted newspaper clippings assembled by an anonymous household cook as well as community cookbooks from across the South remind us that some of the finest chefs were the unsung women who worked for hours each day at the family oven.

Exhibit curators Dr. Andrew P. Haley, associate professor of history, and Jennifer Brannock, curator of rare books and Mississippiana, have selected cookbooks that highlight the diversity of our culinary traditions. The exhibit showcases works that sought to create a space for immigrants at the national table as well as cookbooks, such as Jana Klauer’s How the Rich Get Thin, bent on shrinking the expanding American waistline. Southern cookbooks featured in the exhibit include two wood-covered editions of the influential Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes (written by three northern women) and a collection of classic recipes by the controversial American-born Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.

Mississippi cookbooks include community cookbooks from Corinth, Shelby, and Ocean Springs and celebrity works such as James Beard award-winning chef John Currence’s ode to breakfast. Collectively, these works remind us that rich or poor, celebrated or not, everyone enjoyed a well-cooked meal and that some of the most beautiful books of the twentieth century were those that taught us to cook.

Half Baked and Hungry: Cookbooks in Special Collections at Southern Miss will be on display in the Cook Library exhibit cases located on the first floor of Cook Library through January 31. If you have questions about the exhibit or the collections, contact Jennifer Brannock at Jennifer.Brannock@usm.edu or 601.266.4347.