Friday, October 29


Photo by Ashley Hall

This summer, Ashley Hall, SFA member and freelance writer, embarked on a journey to collect stories relating to the effects of the Gulf oil spill. She traveled the coast from Biloxi, MS, to Apalachicola, FL, as a field correspondent for Gravy, the SFA foodletter, revisiting oral history subjects whenever possible. She collected some new voices, too--voices like Tommy Ward's.

Tommy Ward is one of the owners of 13 Mile Oyster Company in Apalachicola, Florida, founded by his father, Buddy Ward, in 1957. Tommy received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2006 for his relentless devotion to 13 Mile through hardships and hurricanes. This interview illustrates the heartbreaking uncertainty and helplessness many seafood business owners felt after the oil spill.

We will be featuring all of Ashley's Gulf Coast interviews here on Okracast, so check back each week for new installments.

Grab some headphones and go!

Wednesday, October 27


2010: The Global South

13th Southern Foodways Symposium Recap

The Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, hosted the thirteenth annual Southern Foodways Symposium October 22-24, 2010 in Oxford, Mississippi, and on the campus of the University of Mississippi. This year's theme was the Global South. From West Africa to Cuba, from Vietnam to Mexico, we traced influences of places and peoples on Southern culinary culture. 375 people from around the nation attended the sold-out event.

The SFA presented programming that challenged existing cultural concepts and complicated beliefs about the region. Among the speakers was Chingo Bling, a Mexican-American rapper from Houston, Texas, whose album, "They Can't Deport Us All," examined immigration policy and prejudice. Also on the roster was Francis Lam, a senior editor at Salon magazine, who profiled Croatian and Vietnamese shrimping communities in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Jim Peacock, professor of anthropology at University of North Carolina, argued for grounded globalism, his theory for how the South has evolved to accommodate new arrivals. Jessica Harris, the Ray Charles Chair in Material Culture at Dillard University in New Orleans, along with Theaster Gates and the Black Monks of Mississippi, paid tribute to the African roots of Southern street vending.

Guests feasted on meals prepared by chefs from across the region. Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol in Atlanta served turnip green tamales with cracklins. Michelle Bernstein of Michy's of Miami dished shrimp and sweet potato ceviche and braised oxtail stew with gnocchi. Also on the bill of fare were platters of of pit-cooked barbacoa de cabeza from Kelly English and Jonathan Magallanes, both of Memphis, and whole hog barbecue tacos from Jim 'N Nick's of Birmingham.

Each year the SFA presents three awards. Peter Nguyen accepted the Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award on behalf of the Vietnamese fishing communities of the Gulf Coast. The Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award honors an unsung hero or heroine of the culinary world, a foodways tradition bearer of note. In honor of Nguyen's work, SFA collaborator, Joe York made a short film, "Phat Thai," which focused on Vietnamese labor and life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The John Egerton Prize--which comes with a $5,000 cash stipend--was awarded to Calvin Head on behalf of the West Holmes Community Development Organization (WHCDO), based near the Mississippi town of Mileston. Twelve African American-owned vegetable farms participate in the WHCDO farm initiative. The John Egerton Prize recognizes artists, writers, scholars, activists, and others whose work addresses issues of race, class, gender, and social and environmental justice through the lens of food.

The SFA's Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Christiane Lauterbach, editor and publisher of Knife & Fork in Atlanta, recognizing her 30-plus years of determined documentation of the South's emergent global food scene. The Craig Claiborne Award goes to an individual who has made an indelible mark upon our cuisine and our culture, the sort of person who has set regional standards and catalyzed national dialogues.

The SFA's mission is to document, study, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. That mission is grounded in the notion that food is a lens through which a region and culture as vast and varied as ours can be embraced and understood.

For more information about the 14th Southern Foodways Symposium, focused on the "Cultivated South," and set for October 27-30, 2011, write or visit

Did you attend the 13th Southern Foodways Symposium last weekend? If so, please click here to share your feedback on the event.


Our spiral bound tome has been getting some good press. Time magazine. Food & Wine. Lots more. Get your copy today. When you turn to page 56 and fall hard for Nathalie Dupree's "Drippings-Cooked Potatoes, Onions, Turnips, and Carrots," please note that we inserted the wrong headnote there. We'll correct it in future editions. And here's the corrected recipe below:

Drippings-Cooked Potatoes, Onions, Turnips, and Carrots
We Southerners know and love turnip greens. But turnips roots deserve respect too. When roasted along with other root vegetables like potatoes, angular turnips turn out sweet and mellow. They turn out delicious.

Read through this recipe and you'll note that the list of ingredients is short and the techniques employed are simple. Those are hallmarks of great recipes and great cooks: straightforward ingredients, cooked without folderol, and served without flourish.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds turnips
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds potatoes
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds carrots
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds onions
4 to 8 tablespoons bacon drippings, beef drippings, or butter
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel the vegetables and cut them into bite-sized wedges or chunks. Leave a little of the onion root in place to hold the wedges together. Heat the drippings or butter in a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet. Add the vegetables and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables, turning every 15 minutes, until they are tender and nicely browned with a few crispy edges. Taste for seasoning, sprinkle with rosemary, and serve hot.
Nathalie Dupree of Charleston, South Carolina


2010 Viking Range Luncheon: The Global South

On the Menu

Icebox Fried Chicken

Shrimp and Sweet Potato Ceviche

Braised Oxtail Stew with Gnocchi

Banana Tres Leches Tian

SFA will share a number of symposium memories in the coming days, including Okracasts of the event lectures. Follow us on Twitter (@potlikker) and Facebook for announcements and, of course, we'll share news on our blog.

Wednesday, October 20


SFA is sending you a little taste of biscuits and gravy in advance of this weekend's upcoming symposium. Click here to preview the latest edition of the Gravy foodletter online; the hard copy is on its way to your mailbox this week. Read about symposium guests Chingo Bling, the "Masa Messiah," and Valerie Erwin, who operates Geechee Girl Rice Cafe in Philadelphia. Learn about Calvin Head and the West Holmes Community Development Organization, recipients of the 2010 John Egerton Prize. And before you commence to reading, try your hand at the 2010 White Lily True Yam Biscuit recipe, created by symposium guest chef Yewande Komolafe and shared with SFA here.

White Lily 2010 SFA Symposium Recipe

Sweet Potato / True Yam Biscuits

Confusion abounds in Southern grocery stores. White-fleshed sweet potatoes are often called yams. Orange-fleshed ones, too, for that matter. True African yams are bigger, harrier, more fibrous tubers. They are not generally interchangeable with sweet potatoes.

Yewande Komolafe, a talented pastry chef of Nigerian origin, raised in Atlanta, and now living in New York City – where she works in the test kitchen at Saveur magazine – has conceived a couple of recipes that show how the tubers are different and how an enterprising cook can adapt true African yams for Southern kitchens.

At the 2010 Southern Foodways Symposium, we’re serving Yewande’s sweet potato biscuits with her own pepper jelly. Tucked inside will be sock sausage, smoked by Tyler Brown of the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. When you try this at home, we’ve found that country ham suits just as well as sock sausage. Enjoy.

Southern Sweet Potato Biscuits

Heat oven to 400°. Using a fork, poke holes all over 2 medium sweet potatoes and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a toothpick or a fork goes right through. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the skin off and mash the sweet potatoes. Leave slightly chunky.

2 medium white-fleshed sweet potatoes (yielding 1½ cups mashed sweet potatoes)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, cold
2 ½ cups White Lily all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cold buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and brown sugar, and use a whisk to fully incorporate. Add the cold butter, and, using your fingers, break apart the butter pieces and incorporate into the rest of the ingredients until pea size pieces form. Add the mashed yams and the cold buttermilk. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface, pat into a single mass, and roll out 1 inch thick. Using a 2¼ inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the dough and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more biscuits until all the dough is used. Add a little water to the beaten egg and brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash. Place in the oven and bake till golden brown, 15 – 20 minutes. Serve while still warm with a hot pepper jelly and slices of country ham or smoked sock sausage.

Makes 6 Biscuits

True African Yam Biscuits: A Variation

In addition to the ingredients above you’ll need:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste
Instead of the sweet potatoes, source 1 small (8-to 10-inch long) African yam

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut the yam into 1½ inch slices, discarding both end pieces. Using a paring knife, peel off the thick layer of outside skin, and immediately drop the slices into a bowl of water to rinse and prevent oxidization. Cut each slice into ½ inch cubes and keep completely covered with water.

Monday, October 18


Photo by Amy Evans Streeter

In advance of our eighth Delta Divertissement, our annual field trip to the Mississippi Delta held just prior to the foodways symposium, we would like to introduce you to one of the subjects from our latest oral history project that documents the Lebanese community in the Mississippi Delta.

Mary Louise Nosser, the daughter of immigrants, is one of the volunteers who helps put on the annual Lebanese dinner hosted by the congregation of the St. George Orthodox Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a fifty-year tradition.

In this special edition of Okracast, hear the story of Lebanese immigration, assimilation, and the intersection of Lebanese and Southern foodways in the Mississippi Delta as told by Mary Louise Nosser.

Grab some headphones and go!


The SFA family regrets to announce that Jeff Byrd, the longtime president of Bristol Motor Speedway, has passed. When we brought our Field Trip to Bristol in 2009, Jeff and his wife Claudia were the consummate hosts, offering laps around the track and the warmest welcome imaginable. He will be missed. Greatly. Read the Johnson City Press obituary here.
-- photo courtesy Johnson City Press.


Early arrivers to SFA's Oxford symposium may wish to book at table at one of the special dinners offered Thursday night, October 21.

PANAMANIAN FLIGHT. City Grocery and John Currence will host guest chef Adolfo Garcia, proprietor of three New Orleans restaurants, A Mano, La Boca, and Rio Mar. A native of New Orleans, his cuisine is influenced by the traditions of his Panamanian parents.

MISSISSIPPI MASALA. Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar will host guest chef Suvir Saran, proprietor of the restaurant Devi in New York City and author of American Masala.

Whether you choose Latin American cuisine or Indian fare, you'll be served a prix fixe multi-course menu for $40, exclusive of beverages, tax, and tip. Global South menus will be available all evening, so guests may make reservations with private groups, or choose to reserve a single seat and be paired at table with other SFA diners arriving around the same time. Guests may order from the house wine list, and the regular dinner menu will also be available all evening at each restaurant.

To make a reservation, call the restaurant directly. Seating will be limited, and advance reservations are required.

  • City Grocery is located on the south side of the Oxford Square. The phone number is 662-232-8080. Dinner hours of operation are 6:00-10:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
  • Snackbar is located just north of the Oxford Square, at 721 North Lamar Avenue. The phone number is 662-236-6363. Dinner hours of operation are 6:00-11:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

Friday, October 15


We send you into the weekend with a little peek at what awaits you in Oxford, if you'll be joining us for this year's Southern Foodways Symposium, the theme of which is the Global South.

Local photographer Erin Austen Abbott documented El Mundo Taco Shop in Oxford and created the slideshow above. Enlargements of a selection of these photographs will be on view at next weekend's Motel Art Show.

Thursday, October 14


Photo by Ashley Hall

This summer, Ashley Hall, SFA member and freelance writer, embarked on a journey to collect stories relating to the effects of the Gulf oil spill. She traveled the coast from Biloxi, MS, to Apalachicola, FL, as a field correspondent for Gravy, the SFA foodletter, revisiting oral history subjects whenever possible. She collected some new voices, too--voices like Richard Gollott's.

A lifelong resident of Biloxi, Mississippi Richard Gollott runs Gollott Seafood Company and Gollott Ice House and Oil Deck in East Biloxi. He is an enthusiastic spokesperson for the quality of local seafood and was tapped to be one of the local businessmen to sit down with President Obama on his trip to the region in June of 2010. This interview is yet another display of the Gulf Coast community's optimism in the wake of disaster.

We will be featuring all of Ashley's Gulf Coast interviews here on Okracast, so check back each week for new installments.

Grab some headphones and go!

Monday, October 11


Join SFA folk in Chapel Hill for two cool events this week:

Friday, October 15 at 7 pm
Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook open house with cookbook contributors Flyleaf Books/Foster's Market, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill, NC
Free and open to the public and downright fun.

Sunday, October 17 at 4:00 pm
Cookbook Release Party with April McGreger and Sheri Castle
3 Cups, 227 S. Elliott Rd., Chapel Hill, NC
$40 with copy of cookbook, $25 for food and wine only
Menu and details here.


Guest Post by: Ashley Hall

I just received a note from David Pham, the sharp and conscientious young man whom I interviewed during my first couple of days on the Gulf in June. David works for the Bayou la Batre chapter of B.P.S.O.S., a noble organization with a painfully ironic name. ("B.P" stands for "Boat People," not the infamous oil conglomerate)

When I interviewed David this summer, I asked what Southern Foodways people could do to help the hard-working folks in the oyster and shrimp processing business. At the time they were mostly out of work due to the fishing stopages. David and I agreed that the most significant thing we food-lovers could do was to help the fishing communities get back on their feet once the oil spill was halted.

Here's one small opportunity. This Sunday the Fourth Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival will be held in Biloxi. A primer: "The event promotes Asian-American/Gulf Coast culture and youth empowerment." There will be federal and state agencies on-hand for those affected by the oil spill. But the entertainment sounds like the real draw. Yes, there will be bureaucrats offering assistance, but also "a Gulf Coast Best Dance Crew competition, a Gulf Coast Got Talent competition, different cuisine from across the Gulf Coast, traditional performances, a fashion show, and performances from popular YouTube artists," David said.

If you want to learn more, go here

If you want to see my original blog post on the Asian-American communities affected by the oil spill, please visit my now-retired blog here.

Wednesday, October 6


Kendall Stork by Ashley Hall

This summer, Ashley Hall, SFA member and freelance writer, embarked on a journey to collect stories relating to the effects of the Gulf oil spill. She traveled the coast from Biloxi, MS, to Apalachicola, FL, as a field correspondent for Gravy, the SFA foodletter, revisiting oral history subjects whenever possible. She collected some new voices, too--voices like Kendall Stork's.

Kendall Stork is the co-owner of the Lighthouse Restaurant in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Stork’s parents opened the restaurant in 1979, and it has been the go-to spot for freshly prepared local seafood ever since. This interview is a great example of an establishment’s never-ending support of its local economy, even in the face of adversity.

We will be featuring all of Ashley's Gulf Coast interviews on OKRACAST, so check back each week for new installments.

Grab some headphones and go!


The 29th annual Key West Literary Seminar explores food in literature. Two separate four-day sessions feature noted writers and foodies including former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl; critics Frank Bruni and Jonathan Gold; funnymen Roy Blount Jr. and Calvin Trillin; New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik; historian Mark Kurlansky; Emory poet and food ode fiend Kevin Young; Gastronomica founder Darra Goldstein; organic farmer David Mas Masumoto; One Big Table author Molly O'Neill; and memoirists, novelists, and poets including Madhur Jaffrey, Kate Christensen, and Billy Collins.

Space is limited; advance registration ($495/all events) is strongly recommended.

Monday, October 4


Garden & Gun Club is hosting an online auction that closes tomorrow, Tuesday, October 5. Click here to see the online offerings. A portion of proceeds from the Garden & Gun auctions will contribute to organizations that focus on preserving the distinct arts and cultures of the American South. The non‐profit partners for the Fall auction include the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA), the American College of Building Arts (ACBA), the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and Lowcountry Open Land Trust.

Want to help the SFA and eat well at the same time? Check out Lot 1: A Private Dinner Party with the Lee Brothers in New York City – This stylishly southern fundraiser includes an exclusive dinner for eight with wine pairings prepared by culinary aficionados and James Beard Award‐winning authors, Matt Lee and Ted Lee at a private Upper West Side residence in New York City.

Bidding continues through Tuesday on this and other items. Thanks for supporting SFA! The auction is live on and can also be accessed through