What is White Trash Cooking? (Gravy Ep. 47)

In 1986, Ernest Matthew Mickler of Palm Valley, Florida, published White Trash Cooking. It was a loving ode to his people—rural, white, working-class and poor Southerners—and their recipes: tuna casserole, baked possum, white-bread tomato sandwiches.

Mickler died of AIDS in 1988 at age 48, but White Trash Cooking continues to sell. In this episode, Gravy’s interim producer Sarah Reynolds explores its lasting influence.

You’ll be hearing more from Reynolds over the next two seasons of GravyIn addition to reporting for NPR, her work also airs on PRI & BBC’s The World and Studio 360 and other national programs. She’s drawn to stories of people living on the margins and has spent time there, working to collect those stories. Sarah has covered the complexities of immigration, an intimate gender transition, the smells of a city, and growing old. Sarah currently teaches radio documentary at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.