My name is Cynthia Clampitt, and I am a writer, speaker, traveler, and food historian. Writing and speaking are how I share with others what I learn as I wander and research—and there is an amazing amount of stuff out there worth sharing.
While I have been offering food history and travel tales on my other two blogs (Waltzing Australia and The World’s Fare, links at right) for many years now, I’ve started this new blog to celebrate the glories of America’s Heartland. I’ll be focusing on the Midwest both because it’s such a huge part of the food system in the Untied States, and because it’s where I live.
In February 2015, the University of Illinois Press published my book Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, it’s because you don’t know how astonishing the story of corn really is. Corn has touched, either directly or indirectly, more than you can probably imagine—from vampires to football teams, assembly lines to time zones, literature, economies, international relations, and vastly more. Plus, of course, the snack aisle.
However, Midwest Maize offers more than a collection of fun anecdotes about the remarkable impact of corn in the U.S. and the world. The book also covers the sweeping drama of the total transformation of the world in the last 150 years, from agriculture (we were still using horses until World War II) to the kitchen (the advent of everything from the stove to canned and frozen food to breakfast cereal). It is also the story of the explosive growth of the Midwest, both rural and urban, and of the people involved in building and defining the region, from the first settlers to today’s farmers, traders, and chefs.
Corn (aka maize) is the source of America’s wealth and the reason the United States grew as swiftly as it did. As Dorothy Giles noted in her classic book Singing Valleys, “The story of corn is the story of the American people.”
I hope to balance fun items with serious information here. In addition to talking about corn, I also want to use this blog to introduce readers to farmers and farming, food production, good restaurants, living history venues, recipes, and much more that highlight how much the Midwest contributes culinarily to the United States and corn contributes to the Midwest.
The blog will also give me the chance to share a lot more photos than I was able to include in the book. So I’m hoping it will be a good companion to the book.
I have traveled worldwide, but the time I’ve spent in the last few years traveling around the Midwest has led me to not only become enamored of my home region, it also made me fall in love with the people of the Heartland. So this blog is something of a love letter, but also something of an introduction to others of what I have found to celebrate here.
I hope you enjoy your visit.