Friday, February 27


As mentioned in the blog February 9, I am currently enrolled in the class titled Studies in Field Work: Food and Culture this semester. Every week or two I will be blogging updates from our class and from the undergraduate Introduction to Southern Studies class as well.

In the Intro to Southern Studies class, students have most recently been learning about Cajun culture and foodways. By contrasting Mike Tidwell's 2003 Bayou Farewell with Les Blank's 1973 documentary Hot Pepper, students are engaging the ways that cultural expressions like foodways (gathering, preparing, serving, eating) have served as fundamental vehicles for preserving the strength and vitality of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast culture. Also, they have explored the ways in which social, political, economic, and environmental pressures have shaped Cajun foodways.

This week in Studies in Field Work: Food and Culture, Joe York and Andy Harper demonstrated the ways that they have explored foodways through film by screening such SFA favorites as Eat or We'll Both Starve, Hot Chicken, and portions of Above the Line: Saving Willie Mae's Scotch House. Andy and Joe also demonstrated for the class the proper way to set up and conduct a formal interview (pictured above); they gave a more general tutorial about on-camera interviews and invited students to come to the Center for Documentary Projects for further instruction later in the semester as well. Dr. Wharton then divided the class into the five groups (three students per group) that will produce five different and exciting documentaries about Food and Culture in and around Oxford this semester. The class is very excited to get started; I hope to get back to you in a week or so with some insight into the types of projects being discussed!

Alan Pike
Graduate Assistant, Southern Foodways Alliance

Thursday, February 26


Larry Proffitt, owner, Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, TN

While SFA oral historian Amy C. Evans was in Virginia to interview the Carter Family, she crossed the state line into Tennessee to pay a visit to Larry Proffitt and Ridgewood Barbecue. Opened by Larry's parents, Jim and Grace Proffitt, in 1948, this little restaurant that's tucked into the Tennessee hills has made a name for itself by smoking hams--not shoulders--sliced paper-thin, heated on a griddle, doused with a special tomato-based sauce and then piled high on a giant bun. 

Look for Amy's interview with Larry Proffitt to appear on the Southern BBQ Trail soon. Meantime, check out the Ridgewood Barbecue photographs that already appear on our Flickr page. 

Wednesday, February 25


Check out this month's issue of Orion magazine to see "All You Can Eat," an article by Jim Carrier on the U.S. shrimping industry. The article chronicles the difficulties U.S. shrimpers encounter from low-cost overseas imports, and it quotes Anthony Taranto's oral history, collected in 2005 as part of SFA's project on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Monday, February 23


Rita Forrester (L), granddaughter of A. P. and Sara Carter, performs with Tennessee Skyline at the Carter Family Fold

In keeping with our theme for 2009, SFA oral historian Amy Evans is in Virginia to document Appalachian foodways as they relate to the First Family of Country Music, the Carter Family. She spent the weekend with many branches of the Carter family tree, gathering stories, as well as some recipes. Look for the interviews to appear online in time for our June field trip to the Mountain Empire.

View some of Amy's photos from the road on our Flickr page.

Friday, February 20


Meet Judy and Pope Huval of Webster's Meats in Cecilia, Louisiana. They've been married for 47 happy years, and have five sons. They recently sold the business to their son and retired, but they remain involved. Judy continues to help with the plate lunches they serve everyday, and Pope stops by for frequent visits. The building that the store is in used to be the local dance hall where the couple would spend weekends as teenagers. Today, the building hosts the tastiest Sunday dinners around (sold only to-go), and the boudin is pretty tasty, too. We recommend that you dance while you eat it.

Wednesday, February 18


Mary Beth's back in Cajun Country, doing interviews that will soon be featured on the Southern Boudin Trail. Today, SFA met Lynn Dale Coleman, of Coleman's Sausage & Specialty Meats. The staff was busy preparing foods for weekend Mardi Gras celebrations, but he took time to share his story with SFA. His parents originally opened the business in 1964, and he took it over in 1997 and moved it to the present location after a fire. Fires happen occasionally in the smoked sausage business, he stated. Today, he operates the store with help from his daughter, Tanna.

Tuesday, February 17


CulinaryCorps® is now recruiting a team of 10 qualified culinary professionals for a week-long service trip to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The chosen team will complete 5 days of culinary service while learning about the cuisine of the community through insider tours, tastings and events.

WHERE: New Orleans, LA and the Mississippi Gulf Coast
WHEN: April 16-22, 2009
COST: $275 per person (includes housing, ground transport most meals/activities.)
Does NOT include travel to New Orleans
REQUIRES: 6 months Professional culinary experience and/or culinary degree. Personal Health Insurance. Must be 21 years or older.
APPLICATION: Click here for April 16-22 2009 Application. All applications are due by March 14th, 2009.

For more information on Culinary Corps, click here. For more details about this latest service trip, click here.

Friday, February 13


The state of research and writing about Southern foodways is good. Very good. At the SFA we read publications that explore, by way of everything from barbecue to whiskey, the worlds of Southern culture.

Among our favorites is the The Rice Paper, published by the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation.

The CGRF works to advance the sustainable restoration and preservation of Carolina Gold Rice and other heirloom grains; raise public awareness of the importance of historic ricelands and heirloom agriculture; encourage, support, and promote educational and research activities focused on heirloom grains; serve as an information resource center to provide authentic documentation on heirloom grain culture and heritage

The latest issue of The Rice Paper just went live online. Therein you will read:

“Charleston Gold Rice: Making the Old New Again.”

“Search for the Lost ‘Long Gold’ Rice.”

A report from Richard Schulze’s Turnbridge Plantation

A review of David Shield’s newly published Pioneering American Wine.

If you like to have the next issue of The Rice Paper emailed directly to you, or if you have a rice story to share, email

Thursday, February 12


For more information about music-n-eats-n-film, click here. To register, click here.

Wednesday, February 11


Dinner is Served: A Symposium on Victorian Dining
Monday, March 9

The Manship House Museum
420 East Fortification Street
Jackson, MS

The Manship House Museum in Jackson, Mississippi, invites members of the public to attend Dinner is Served: A Symposium on Victorian Dining. The event, which examines life in the dining room, is free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information, or to reserve a space, call 601-961-4724 or e-mail

The symposium schedule follows:
9 a.m. -- The Dining Room and Kitchen in Antebellum Mississippi; presentation by Todd Sanders of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

10 a.m. -- A Table, Mes Amis: Creole Cooking Traditions in New Orleans
, 1830-1880, by Mamie Gasperecz, director of the Hermann-Grima/Galier Houses, New Orleans
Of Hearth and Home, by Carolyn Bercier, deputy director of the Hermann-Grima/Galier Houses, New Orleans

1 p.m. -- The Supreme Test of Refinement: Victorian Dining Etiquette, by Amy Forbes of Millsaps College

2 p.m. -- The Favorite Room, by master grainer Malcolm Robson

The Manship House Museum interprets the daily life of an interesting nineteenth-century Mississippi family through the house the family lived in for so many years. Until its acquisition by the state of Mississippi in 1975, the Manship House had been continuously occupied by members of the Manship family since its construction in 1857. For more information on the Manship House, click here.

Monday, February 9


Join Tulane's Newcomb Center for Research on Women "Sustainable Food" trip to Bolsena, Italy, June 1-12

Participants will enjoy two weeks of exposure to issues surrounding world food systems, globalization, and gender. Highlights: 40 hours of lectures, field trips to Slow Food Headquarters/HQ of the UN World Food Programme, cooking classes, visits to artisan kitchens and workshops, and more. Continuing education credit may be available to professionals.

Trip includes room and board and excludes airfare. Contact for more info.


For a while now, the SFA has been agitating for Southern Studies classes that focus on food. While we still need – and don’t yet have -- a professor who teaches food studies classes, this semester, David Wharton, director of documentary projects here at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is offering Studies in Field Work: Food and Culture.

Our SFA graduate student, Alan Pike, is enrolled. (That's Alan in the pic above.) Here’s his take on what’s to come over the course of the semester:

The course, cross-listed for undergraduate and graduate students, provides an opportunity to undertake documentary fieldwork projects in a self aware and self critical manner. The course is taught by David Wharton in collaboration with Joe York and Andy Harper of the Center for Documentary Projects.

In groups, we students will produce short films focusing on “food and culture” for final projects. We will complete oral histories, personal food journals, and fieldwork journals.

We are reading the James Agee and Walker Evans classic, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Robert Coles’s Doing Documentary Work, Edward D. Ives’s The Tape Recorded Interview: A Manual for Fieldworkers in Folklore and Oral History, Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, and Warren Belasco’s Food: The Key Concepts.

Although it is early, my group has discussed the possibility of using food as a way to view the current economic situation.

Tuesday, February 3


Mary Beth Lasseter has been out on the boudin trail, recording stories that will soon be published online thanks to generous support from the Butterfield and Robinson Foundation. On the most recent trip in mid-January, SFA met Alvin Guidroz and his father, Joseph Guidroz. Though Joseph is officially retired, he helps his son make boudin every Tuesday and Friday morning. Their store sells hundreds of pounds of boudin each week, in addition to the hot plate lunches they dish every day. Vist on a Saturday for a taste of cowboy stew. And red beans, of course, are sold on Monday.