Hosking, Richard (ed). Authenticity in the Kitchen: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Blackawton, Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 2006, 283-291.
Riverworld: The Vanished World of Illinois Riverfolk
Marking the boundaries and draining its central prairies, rivers flow around and through the state of Illinois. In the century before World War II the largest and slowest flowing gave home to groups of people who lived on the rivers, along their banks, and who made their meager livings by harvesting the waters. In those days, the rural societies that bordered the river formed themselves into social hierarchies: farm owners and town folk; tenant, farmers; share croppers; and at the bottom people described in Southern Illinois communities along the Ohio River as “them river rats.” The same opinion held for the musselers of the Illinois River in the western side of the state. Although mostly of the same American stock as their neighbors, mostly of German, Irish, English, and “American” (meaning Appalachian) origin, these river people were recognized as distinct not only by their occupations, family ties, and relative lack of cash, but partly by their diets. Except in hard times, they tried not to eat fish but to eat “normal” meat and potatoes diets. Ecological disaster, population demands, and changes in commerce ended these generations-long traditions, but they are remembered by some as authentic folkways that are now lost.