Rhett Rushing
Kitchen Sisters
UTSA's Rhett Rushing (top) with ice tongs and NPR's The
Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva

NPR's Kitchen Sisters interview UTSA folklorist

By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist

(June 29, 2006)--Rhett Rushing, a folklorist in the research department at UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures, will discuss icehouses on the Friday, June 30 broadcast of National Public Radio's "Morning Edition," which can be heard locally on KSTX-Radio 89.1 FM.

During last month's Texas Folklife Festival, NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, interviewed Rushing and others about icehouses and food traditions in San Antonio. Rushing's interview will be included as part of their "Hidden Kitchens" segment.

According to Rushing, before local families had refrigerators in their homes, there were icehouses. Icehouses made foods such as ice cream, cold beer and chilled meats available to area residents and changed the culinary landscape.

Even after many people had electricity in their homes, ice was delivered door-to-door or purchased at the local icehouse and placed in the non-electrified "ice box" in the kitchen to refrigerate food.

"Fresh seafood, fresh beef, pork and poultry and even certain veggies and fruits -- all became possibilities for San Antonio residents after the Civil War," Rushing said. "But perhaps the biggest impact that ice had here was on the community gatherings and celebrations around town."

"Amid the record-setting heat, I talked with The Kitchen Sisters about icehouses and the history and growth of ice in San Antonio," Rushing said. "We also talked about food -- our shared passion."

Rushing, a folklorist specializing in religion, food, narrative and art, earned a master's degree in folklore from Western Kentucky University and is writing his doctoral thesis on apparitions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in South Texas. He is director and past president of the Texas Folklore Society.

The Kitchen Sisters have produced radio programs since 1979 and just completed their first book and 3-CD audio book, "Hidden Kitchens: Stories Recipes and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters," inspired by their "Morning Edition" series and published by Rodale Press and Audio Renaissance.

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