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April 6 lecture to feature folklorist and author Marcie Cohen Ferris speaking about "Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South"

March 22, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - On Thursday, April 6, at 8 p.m., folklorist and author Marcie Cohen Ferris will present a lecture titled "Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South" in Warner Hemicycle on College Street (Route 125). The event is the 19th annual Hannah A. Quint Lecture in Jewish Studies, and is free and open to the public.

Marcie Cohen Ferris

In her talk, Ferris will examine the expressive power of food throughout southern Jewish history. In particular, she will highlight how the Jewish people reinvented culinary traditions as they adjusted to living in a largely Christian region where foods not permitted by Jewish dietary laws abound, such as pork and shellfish. Ferris was raised in a Jewish family in Arkansas, and food was an integral part of her childhood. When both her grandmothers died, she inherited their recipe boxes and was immediately inspired to continue the family tradition of using food to share stories and experiences.
This culinary tour of the Jewish south is captured in Ferris's book, "Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish," published in 2005 by University of North Carolina Press. Her book includes recipes from her family and other Jewish southerners she interviewed, as well as anecdotes and oral histories that reflect the way Jewish southerners created a distinctive religious culture.

Ferris is an assistant professor of American studies and associate director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also vice president of the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA), whose mission is to celebrate, preserve, promote and nurture the traditional and developing diverse food cultures of the American South. SFA is an affiliated institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture with headquarters at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. She has been quoted on several occasions in the New York Times for her culinary knowledge of Jewish traditions.

The Hannah A. Quint Lecture in Jewish Studies was established in 1987 by Hannah A. Quint and her son Eliot Levinson of Middlebury's class of 1964. The mandate of the lectureship is to provoke thought in the college, the community and the region on issues of the moment in Jewish history, religion and culture. The event is sponsored by the Middlebury College Religion Department and the Program in Jewish Studies.  
For more information, contact Laura Lieber in the Middlebury College Religion Department at or 802-443-3453.