Meet Jessica Harris of Southern Foodways Alliance

Watch our Q&A with one of the founders of SFA and preserver of Southern food culture.


My name is Jessica Harris. I am a food historian. My specialty is the food of Africa and what happened to it when it got to this hemisphere. I am by profession a teacher. I teach at Queen's College. And I am the founder of the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard University in New Orleans where I was the inaugural scholar in the Ray Charles chair in African American material culture. One of the things about southern food and SFA is that it really came out of. A look at the importance of the table. And how the table, particularly the southern table, could serve as a locus for reconciliation. So that there's always been an interesting kind of civil rights subtext to SFA and southern food in that sense. And I think that that, again, is important. That whole notion of how the table becomes where we can all get together and I think SFV is a perfect example of that. Oh for me it would be okra, to tell the story of the south, or my south in any case, in a food. Okra simply originates in Africa. Was when I first found out absolutely amazed by the fact that okra is related to cotton because there's incredible irony there. It's been picked up by the entire South and has become probably one of the more totemically, if you will, Southern vegetables. And so I kind of liked the fact that it originates in Okra and I'd like to say here for the entire public at large. I had it on my stationary long before the southern food ways alliance was founded.
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