Faculty member's book explores bratwurst, buckeyes and more

Nathan Crook, assistant professor and coordinator of Oho State ATI's agricultural education program, has written a book about the food traditions of northwest Ohio entitled A Culinary History of the Great Black Swamp.

The cultural and physical landscape of the Great Black Swamp is a monument to the hardship and perseverance of the people who drained and settled the region. They transformed densely forested wetlands into one of the most productive agricultural areas in the nation. Commercial crops of corn, soy, tomatoes and wheat are dominant in the fertile loam of southeastern Michigan, northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. However, each immigrant group calling this place home brought its own culinary traditions—from pickled eggs to peanut butter pie. With a foreword by Lucy Long of the Center for Food and Culture, author Nathan Crook explores the landscape, history, culture and representative cuisines that make eating here a unique and memorable experience.

Nathan is a cultural anthropologist. He holds a PhD in American cultural studies from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Crook researches and writes about the myriad uses of food as a community identifier and a mode of communication. He has conducted original fieldwork internationally and domestically, focusing on southern Italian and Sicilian regional cultures and cuisines and those of the Intermountain West and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to this book on the culinary history of the Black Swamp region, Dr. Crook has published numerous articles on local and regional foods, food traditions, practices and patterns of behavior with the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor, the Ohio Humanities Council and the Oxford University Press.