Monday, August 25


Boudin maker Beverly Giardelli of C. Hebert's Slaughter House & Meat Market - Abbeville, LA
Photo by Sara Roahen, 2008

Last year we began working with writer and SFA board member Sara Roahen to collect more of the stories behind the food. Sara spent weeks roaming Louisiana, talking up cooks and meat market owners in an effort to add more oral histories to our Boudin and Gumbo Trail documentary projects. This year she's back in the field--and back home in New Orleans--adding even more content to these two culinary trails. By the spring of 2009, we hope to double the number of interviews for each project, making these two iconic Louisiana foods some of the most thoroughly documented traditions in our archive. Until then, take some time to look at some of Sara's photos from the road on our Flickr page.

Monday, August 18


On Sunday, September 14, 2008, the Atlanta History Center invites
visitors of all ages to CHOW DOWN! A Southern Foodways Festival. From Noon to 5:00 p.m., guests enjoy an afternoon of activities exploring the heritage of the regionally diverse food cultures greatly influenced by the traditions of the Native American, African American,
and Northern European communities. There will be crafts, cooking demonstrations, garden tours, and a presentations by familiar SFA faces: Jessica Harris, Angie Mosier, and John T Edge. Also on the program is Rayna Green, curator at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. The program is free for AHC members, and included in the price of museum admission for non-members. For more information or a schedule of events, visit the Atlanta History Center online.

Monday, August 11


SFA oral historian Amy Evans is on her second trip to document Southern wine. This week, she's in North Carolina, where the native Muscadine is holding strong and European varietals are taking root in Southern soil. The interviews will appear online in the fall, just in time for our drinkways-themed symposium. Meantime, check out Amy's photographs from the road on our Flickr page.

Sunday, August 10


Bon Appetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking
By Virginia Willis. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 2008. $32.50

Virginia Willis has a delightful way of weaving together three generations of Southern cooking in Bon Appetit, Y'all. She begins by introducing her family--her maternal grandmother "Meme," her grandfather "Dede," and her mother, all of whom grew up in rural Georgia. Her grandmother's fond memories of farm life--milking cows, curing hams, and making butter and cheese--inspire her and naturally evolve when her family moved to Louisiana and expanded their culinary repertoire. She watched Julia Child's show religiously, which led to her work with Southern cooking icon Nathalie Dupree, and then study at both L'Academie de Cuisine in Maryland and La Varenne in Burgundy, France.

No doubt, the old South comes through in recipes like Pimento Cheese, Meme's Fried Chicken and Gravy, Old-Fashioned Pot Roast, Country Captain Chicken, Mama's Fried Fatback, Gulf Coast Oyster Po' Boys, and Mama's Seafood Gumbo. Some Southern dishes are adapted to contemporary tastes, such as Chicken Saltimbocca with Country Ham, Fried Catfish Fingers with Country Remoulade, and Shrimp with Parmigiano-Reggiano Grits and Tomatoes. There are also counterparts with a French accent, such as Fingerling Potato Salad, Boeuf Bourguignon, Provencal Lamb Chops, and Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Walnut Oil.

It's the techniques that give the book a common thread--the braising, stewing, frying, and baking. Ms. Willis admits trying to update certain dishes without success, like Aunt Julia's Chocolate Pie, finally admitting, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." There are also many sections with culinary instructions and photos, to help with cutting up chicken, making souffles, choosing fish and fish substitutions, and so on. Who knew that Meme's Fried Okra, Funeral Grits, and Buttermilk Angel Biscuits would find a comfortable place next to Yukon Gold and Edamame Mash, Coq au Vin, and Chocolate Pots de Creme? Virginia Willis sets a table where it allcomes together and still feels supremely Southern and wonderful.

The Savannah Cookbook
By Damon Lee Fowler. Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2008. $29.95

The latest in Damon Lee Fowler's meticulously researched, beautifully written books about Southern cooking looks at the food of his hometown Savannah. It's traditionally a home-based cuisine, blessed by an abundance of seafood and rice and enlivened by the contributions of the many cultures that passed through this port city. Chief among these is the cooking of the enslaved peoples who provided the labor for the rice and cotton economy.

The cooking of Savannah has much in common with that of the rest of the South, but Fowler concentrates on the dishes that are unique to this community: Savannah Black Turtle Bean Soup, Daufuskie Crab Fried Rice, Creamed Chicken Madeira on Rice Waffles, Crab and Grits. Of particular interest, given the subject of the 2008 SFA Symposium, is the section on Savannah beverages. Madeira is, of course, identified with Savannah, but you'll also find recipes for Chatham Artillery Punch--the original is said to have been mixed in horse-watering tubs; Sherry Cobbler; and a lethal milk rum punch called Milk of a Wild Cow.

The book is sumptuously illustrated with photographs by John Robert Carrington III.

Reviews by Karen Cathey.

Thursday, August 7


On Friday, August 15, Joe York's documentary Above the Line: Saving Willie Mae's Scotch House will screen at Chattanooga's Back Row Film Series. The Pulse, Chattanooga's Weekly Alternative, has an article describing the film as the evening's highlight. Members of the public are invited to attend; click here for more info on the festival.

Wednesday, August 6


Photo by Sara Roahen

The Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, La., and the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau will present "Java: The History of Coffee Roasters in Louisiana," from Friday, Sept. 5-Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008, at the Museum, 204 W. Sallier St.

Coffee has played an integral role in Louisiana history since the early 19th Century. In 1802, 1,438 bags of coffee arrived at the Port of New Orleans; just 50 years later, the city imported more than 530,000 bags, according to the Louisiana State Museum. The Port of New Orleans quickly became a port of choice for Latin American coffee planters because of its enviable position at the bottom of the Mississippi Valley and its ability to receive goods from the Caribbean and South and Central America.

The exhibit will celebrate roasters from every region of the state – Jelks Coffee Roasters of north Louisiana; Mello Joy, of Acadiana; French Market Coffee of New Orleans; the ever-present Community Coffee in the southern region and other companies from around the state.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Susan Reed at 337-439-3793, or visit