I don’t know how many times a spiral-bound cookbook has made The New York Times Best Seller list, but in 1986, Ernest Matthew Mickler’s independently published White Trash Cooking did. The book gathered more than recipes. It contained Mickler’s stark, artful photographs, collected folklore and functioned as a document of a vanishing backcountry Florida. To some it seemed a novelty. To people who grew up in the Southern backcountry, it was a respectful record of life, and it validated their existence. Ernie distinguished uppercase “White Trash” from lowercase “white trash,” saying that, “Manners and pride separate the two,” yet his book title unnerved commercial publishers.

For The Bitter Southerner, Michael Adno travels Mickler’s Florida, talking with Mickler’s friends and family, to celebrate the man who embraced his roots and earned his MFA from Mill’s College in California, a man whose photos drew comparisons to Eggleston or Christenberry, whose tireless…

View original post 290 more words