Southern Foodways' John Egerton Passes Away at 78

By Christopher Hassiotis  |  November 21, 2013

Atlanta-born author John Egerton passed away this morning, according to Nashville newspaper The Tennesean. Egerton wrote extensively about Southern food and culture.

The 1987 book "Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History," which Egerton co-wrote with Ann Bleidt Egerton and Al Clayton, served as a template for those looking to place regional food and recipes into a cultural context. His writing helped influence the perception of the Southern plate as more than just fried chicken and biscuits - though those were well-covered too. In 1990, Atlanta's Peachtree Press published "Side Orders: Small Helpings of Southern Cookery and Culture."

Egerton co-founded the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization that "documents, studies and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South." He is quoted on the SFA's website as saying:

I think of [the SFA] as much more than just the food… This was an organization with food as its primary focus, but we wanted these larger social cultural ingredients to be a part of the mix… Learning and teaching people about the larger dimensions and the power of this food to achieve some really remarkable things.

Egerton lived in Nashville, where he settled in the 1960s after living in Kentucky, but frequently visited Atlanta for talks, food events and more. In addition to his food writing, Egerton covered civil rights, Southern history and more. His 1994 book "Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South" won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He was 78.

You can read more about Egerton in a new post on the SFA website.