Cultural identities are often woven into the food that graces the dining table. This is the link that helped define Dr. Jessica Harris’ career.
Scholars have a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University, an MA in French Literature from Queen’s College, and a license from the University of Nancy, France. In fact, it was this international connection that sparked her interest in food and culture.
“I have always been an international person. I was, or was told to be, the first child not related to the United Nations to attend the United Nations International School. On my first trip to Senegal, I was struck by the connection I had with the food I knew.
Harris worked as a professor of English at Queen’s College of the City University of New York for 50 years before retiring. During that time, she has also explored the relationship between African American culture and the cuisine that shaped it. Harris has become a prolific author on this topic. Her articles have appeared in leading food magazines such as Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine and Southern Living. Harris has also published her twelve books documenting the diets of the African diaspora. Her best-selling book, High on the Hog, is the basis for her 2021 Netflix documentary series of the same name.
She was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2019 and received the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. cafeteria.
“The motto of New York City’s Museum of Food and Drink is ‘Food is Culture.’ It’s important to understand the culture’s food, and to understand food, it’s important to understand the culture,” she said.
Her impressive resume has garnered attention on a national and international scale. Coastal also caught the attention of the Georgia Historical Society.
“Dr. Harris grabbed our attention when members of the Society Board visited the exhibition ‘African Americans: Making the Table for the Nation’ and shared how much they enjoyed learning about the topic. was collected.
“Dr. Harris curated the exhibit, researching the contributions our region has made to African-American cuisine. We thought audiences would enjoy a program about related history.”
The organization reached out to see if Harris was willing to travel for lectures on St. Simons Island. And the stars lined up. She will present a program titled “African Americans: Making the Nation’s Table” at 3:00 pm Sunday at St. Simons Presbyterian Church, 205 Kings Way, St. Simons Island. Lectures are free, but registration is required. These can be created by visiting coastalgeorgiahistory.org.
The program is inspired by an exhibit developed by the Museum of Food and Drink presented at the Africa Center in New York City in 2022. Dr. Harris served as the lead curator of this exhibition, exploring the influence of African cuisine on American cuisine. This particular talk will feature information on how coastal Georgian traditions and agriculture have influenced local cuisine over the decades.
For the Association’s Executive Director, Shelley Jones, the talks are a rare opportunity to hear from eminent scholars.
“Dr. Harris is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on African and African American cuisine, and we are thrilled to welcome such an important scholar to our region,” Jones said. Told.
Harris hopes attendees will better understand the links between West Africa and the Lowcountry.
“I’m (sharing) this with an illustration of a quilt too big and fragile to travel, but it was the centerpiece of a museum show I curated for the Food and Drink Museum. It has special use permission and is the first time it has been used outside of a show,” she said. Since then, my lecture, The Broad Compass, will introduce its history, with special emphasis on Georgia.”