Exploring Regional Delights State by State
A 1507 US Map bought by the Library of Congress a decade ago has become an unlikely source of fascination. The Library is now showcasing it for the first time in its Thomas Jefferson Building.
Louisiana, a Part of US Map
From brass bands to bayous, jazz to zydeco, food to culture, Louisiana is a feast for the senses. Here, the state’s famous cuisine combines Creole tradition with proud, terroir-driven culinary flavors.
Taste gumbo, etouffee and boudin at down-home Cajun mom-and-pop restaurants. Or, sample fresh seafood delights at New Orleans’ famed restaurants and take a cooking class to learn the secrets behind these regional delicacies.
Aside from the state’s world-famous gastronomy, Louisiana is also known for its rich and varied topography. The wetlands of its coastal swamp region contain muck and peat soils that are nutrient-rich. The river valleys and bottoms have lighter, coarser alluvium and loessial, or windblown, soils.
Located near the border with Texas, Louisiana’s Red River Region is noted for its riverboat casinos and live music venues. The area’s rich cultural heritage is celebrated at fascinating museums and historic sites, and there are also plenty of breweries and wineries to discover.
The state of Mississippi is known for a wide variety of dishes that grace tables across the nation, including po’boys and fried dill pickles with a side of comeback sauce. But it is also the birthplace of the blues, a genre that was created by African American musicians.
It is often referred to as the Mud-Cat State because of its love of catfish. These bottom-dwelling fish thrive in the muddy waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The town of Belzoni even hosts the World Catfish Festival each June. The fried filets of this popular fish are a staple of Southern cuisine.
Cotton was once the dominant crop in this agrarian state, but after the Civil War, it was replaced by soybeans. The Mississippi River once provided a rich floodplain habitat, but today the river is an over-engineered canal. Which is prone to catastrophic flooding, and the state suffers from invasive species and excessive nutrient pollution issues.
The southeastern part of the state is covered by the gently rolling Southern Pine Hills. The rest of the state lies in the flat Central Lowland, a landscape crisscrossed by rivers. The highest point is Woodall Mountain in Tishomingo County.
The state of Tennessee is a land that has something for everyone. Its food scene is rich and varied, with everything from barbecue to fried chicken on the menu. There’s also the country music scene, with Nashville a globally-renowned hub for contemporary artists.
Its history is also deeply rooted in the issues of enslavement and secession from the Union. By the early 1840s, much of the state’s economy was based on the exploitation of enslaved people, and many Tennesseans wanted to continue the practice. However, the Civil War was a turning point in ending this exploitation, and Tennessee ultimately rejoined the Union.
Another famous face from the state is Justin Timberlake, an American singer, songwriter and actor. He’s been praised for his musical talent and has starred in some of the most popular movies including Pulp Fiction, Friends with Benefits, and Suit and Tie.
New Orleans, a Part of US Map
For some, New Orleans is all about the food. The city is brimming with historic favorites and street foods, but it also offers a slew of more-expensive dining experiences that are designed to delight all of your senses. From an omakase Downtown to an extravagant tasting menu at the French Quarter, this city of cuisine has something for all tastes.
Six years after Columbus landed on what he thought was Asia, Waldseemuller showed an ocean east of the Americas—and even drew a notation that the new continent should be called “America” because the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci had feminized his name. This map was a “radical geography” for its time, Hessler says.
The Library of Congress was able to secure the Waldseemuller map through substantial private and congressional support. Now, Hessler hopes, it will receive the public acclaim and critical inspection that this cartographic treasure deserves.
The Library’s Digital Imaging Laboratory is tackling the challenge of recovering faded text in this extraordinary world map. By processing multispectral images, the team aims to reveal letters that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.
Whether you prefer dry rub or wet, Memphis barbecue sauce is undoubtedly one of America’s most foundational styles. The city is also home to a number of other regional delights, from historical museums to shopping districts with a sense of style that’s uniquely its own.
The Library’s team of experts continues to work with the faded map, using multispectral images and special software to recover text that was previously impossible to see. In this way, the map’s details shed light on Columbus’s perception of geography and show how far his ideas strayed from what we now know to be true. For more, visit the blog to see the results of this painstaking effort.