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Foodways of the Midwest

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Newberry Library

60 West Walton St.

Chicago, IL 60610

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A Roundtable Discussion

About this Event

These days, “Midwestern cuisine” is likely to evoke brats, gelatin-based salads, hot-dish casseroles, and perhaps a few regional specialties like deep dish pizza or deep-fried cheese curds. But the region’s culinary history is far more complex than these stereotypes suggest.

This symposium will explore the complex histories that have shaped the real and quite varied cuisines of the Midwest. In the morning session, participants will cover the native foodways of the Indigenous peoples of the region before discussing the foods that entered and shaped the Midwest culinary idiom through successive waves of migration, including traditions that arrived with groups of European immigrants; traveled north with the Great Migration; and accompanied Latino workers from Mexico and Latin America.

In the afternoon, presenters will explore the rich history and culture of midwestern beer and brewing, which played an integral role in the economic, social, and cultural development of the region. In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, immigrant groups brought their beer and beer cultures to the Midwest, creating a tapestry of styles, traditions, and drinking establishments that led to the area’s dominance in the US brewing industry. The afternoon session will begin with an introduction to the origins and development of beer in the Midwest and conclude with an examination of the growth of craft beer in the region and its importance in the national landscape.

Schedule:

9:30 am: Coffee and continental breakfast

10 am: What Is Midwestern Food?

  • Cynthia Clampitt, author of the books Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Baconfest and Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland.
  • Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies, University of Maryland College Park, and author of Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power
  • Michael Innis-Jimenez, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Alabama, and author of Steel Barrio: The Great Mexican Migration to South Chicago, 1915-1940 and the forthcoming book, Made in Chicago: Mexican Food, Tourism, and Cultural Identity
  • Gary Morseau, Sr., Director of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Food Sovereignty Initiative

11:30-12 pm: Roundtable discussion with speakers and audience

12-1:30 pm: Lunch break

1:30 pm: Better Than Pop: A History of Midwestern Beer and its National Influence

  • Pat Doerr, Managing Director, Hospitality Business Association of Chicago
  • Liz Garibay, Executive Director of the Chicago Brewseum and a historian exploring history and culture through the lens of beer and alcohol.
  • Alison Orton, PhDstudent in history, University of Illinois at Chicago, studying how the nineteenth-century beer industry was affected by immigration and influenced Midwestern cultural identity

2:10-2:30 pm: Roundtable discussion with speakers and audience

2:30-3:30 pm: Reception with Midwestern craft beers and snacks

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Newberry Library

60 West Walton St.

Chicago, IL 60610

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