Catfish Row Museum celebrates Vicksburg’s diverse foodways story through new pop-up exhibit

Published 3:54 pm Thursday, July 28, 2022

At the heart of foodways are rich stories of crossing barriers and borders, of lives intertwined with food as food and place are linked through the diversity of income and ethnicity in the South.

Through funding from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and Visit Mississippi, the Catfish Row Museum in Vicksburg conducted six foodways programs from February through May 2022. Those programs have culminated in a pop-up exhibit celebrating Vicksburg’s rich foodways legacy. 

“Food for Thought: Resetting the Table — Exploring Foodways in Vicksburg” centers on Vicksburg’s unique foodways story, documenting and sharing diverse culinary traditions of the region and promoting a culinary tourism pathway to share Vicksburg’s unique food heritage with the region and beyond.

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The intersection of food and culture is a gateway to understanding the diversity of the Delta and is a cross-cultural means to collect the community narrative.

“​​This exhibit will delve into six prominent Vicksburg food cultures: Lebanese, Southern, Soul Food, Delta Chinese, Jewish and BBQ. Visitors to the museum will be able to sit at a dining room table where these cultures all come together through vibrant illustrations of place settings celebrating food and diversity,” said Lauchlin Fields, co-owner of Front Porch Fodder and project manager for Food for Thought. “Old-fashioned cookware, utensils and community cookbooks will be on display, as well as an overview of each food culture, which brings these cultures to life through the common language of food.”

The museum’s Food for Thought programming featured prominent scholars on food and culture and touched on themes of activism and food, Southern Jewish food cultures, Mississippi’s Black farming legacy, race and cookbooks in 20th Century Vicksburg, Mississippi Delta Chinese and learning from local foods. Learn more about the programming that inspired this exhibit.

The MDNHA funding has provided support to engage with the community through a museum lab and pop-up exhibition space that invites community members to come in and share their stories, as well as loan items related to the area’s food cultures. 

The mission of the Catfish Row Museum is to document and introduce, through material artifacts, oral history, public programming and the arts, a cultural heritage experience that showcases the unique and diverse aspects of Vicksburg and its relationship with the Delta.

The Catfish Row Museum aims to provide educational opportunities that enhance, preserve and promote the social, cultural and historical experiences of this Southern city at the tip of the Mississippi Delta. 

To learn more about the Catfish Row Museum, visit catfishrowmuseum.org.