Wednesday, August 31


From time to time we receive inquires about how to collect personal, family-oriented oral histories. Our advice: just do it. Don't worry about not having any interviewing experience or not having the right equipment or whatever else might be keeping you from sitting down with your grandfather or daughter or neighbor. Just push the record button and start a conversation.

Now, though, collecting--and sharing--stories with loved ones is easier than ever. Enter Storytree, a new web-based storytelling interface that allows users to take advantage of just about every social media tool out there. The video featured above will give you a quick idea of the possibilities.

Storytree has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Check out the recent piece in the New York Times and this great overview on how Storytree fits into our lives and our world at Singularity Hub, a website dedicated to "science, technology and the future of mankind."

And then, go tell your story.

Tuesday, August 30


Yep, ice cream. The best cool treat in the hot summertime. Our friends at the Communal Skillet have tried their hand at two ice cream recipes lately: peach buttermilk ice cream (yum!) and boiled peanut and sorghum swirl ice cream. Don't make that face -- sweet and salty makes for good eats. Try it yourself.


Stetson Kennedy, folklorist, author, and civil rights activist, died Saturday. He was 94.

In a St. Petersburg Times obituary, Jeff Klinkenberg calls him, "Florida's Homer, a talking history book, a troublemaker, a scamp, a radical and a shameless promoter of everything Stetson."

He wrote the WPA guide to Florida during the Depression. After that came Palmetto County, which he called a "barefoot social history of Florida," and a novelized, muckraking investigation called I Rode with the Klu Klux Klan.

As an expatriate in France, he wrote Jim Crow Guide to the USA: The Laws, Customs and Etiquette Governing the Conduct of Nonwhites and other Minorities as Second-Class Citizens. 

Throughout his life he challenged conventions, built friendships across race and class divides, and stirred up trouble.

Late in life, he published Grits and Grunts: Folkloric Key West. 

A link to a career overview, recent media, and various obituaries can be found here. 

Photo from the St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, August 29


Representatives of the MS Blues Trail, SFA, Joe's White Front
and Bolivar County at the marker ceremony
On August 26, 2011, a ceremony was held in front of Joe's White Front in Rosedale, Miss., to unveil marker #138 on the Mississippi Blues Trail: Hot Tamales and The Blues. This is the first culinary marker in the state of Mississippi. 

Joe's White Front in Rosedale, MS; Marker #138 on the MS Blues Trail
The SFA began documenting Delta tamales in 2005 and created the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail to celebrate the history and tradition of this culinary icon of the region. We interviewed Barbara Pope of Joe's White Front and dedicated the project to her late brother, Joe Pope, who passed away in 2004. 

Barbara Pope serves tamales after the ceremony; a half-dozen hot tamales
It was a great day for the Delta and the state of Mississippi. We couldn't be more proud.

* * *

Visit our Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail for more about tamales in the Delta.

Visit our Flickr page for more photos from the ceremony.

Visit the Mississippi Blues Trail for more about Blues sites throughout the state.

Friday, August 26


What a strange and (dare we say) scary week it's been. Indeed, this may be the perfect moment to enjoy a six-pack! This week we marvel at 1.9 million years of home cooking, thoughtfully consider the Oreo, and contemplate the art of the menu.

East coast SFA'ers, we are all thinking about you this weekend. We hope Monday brings safety, sunshine, and blue skies.

1. One Mississippi pastor takes the fight against unhealthy foods to the last frontier -- the church supper.

2. Even Homo-erectus stood facing the stove. (or the campfire. You get the idea.)

3. Forget pop-up restaurants. Rusty Hamlin's restaurant is on wheels, 18 wheels.

4. The Oreo's taste has everything to do with fat and sugar. Its distinctive look belongs to North Carolinian, William A. Turnier. Who would have thought?

5. Wholesome Tummies has landed in Atlanta. You're going to wish for it to land in your school lunch room very soon!

6. The Spirit of 77 menu makes us very happy. What's your favorite on this beautiful site?

Rock and roll lyricist, Jerry Leiber died this week. Listen and remember Jerry, his partner Mike Stoller, and the birth of rock and roll.

Thursday, August 25


photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace

So...the kids are back in school (I'll drink to that!).

Now is a perfect time to call in reinforcements and take an adult-only vacation. Our neighbors to the north (waaaaay north, eh?) have the right idea. This week they hit the Southern Whiskey Trail.

The SFA likes a trail (as evidenced here and here and here and here). So it seems only natural that we would give a thumbs up to embarking on a tour of whiskey (and bourbon) distilleries in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can even swing by Virginia and hit up the newly reconstructed George Washington's Distillery. It is the only site in North America that can demonstrate 18th-century distilling from seed to barrel.

Check out this Canadian's tour and what he learns about not only whiskey but about the contradictory state we southerners find ourselves in on many an occasion.

And, cheers, it's National Whiskey Sour Day!

Wednesday, August 24


...and no, we're not talking about the rhinestone-studded costumes at the Grand Ole Opry.

The Bloomy Rind Artisan Cheese presents the first ever Southern Artisan Cheese Festival, a celebration of cheese that brings regional cheesemakers to Nashville September 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Nashville Farmers Market. Cheesemakers will serve samples of handcrafted cheese. Food artisans will offer local jams, honey, cured meats, pickles, beer, wine and other pairing items. 


Hermann, Missouri, is home to Stone Hill Winery, once the second-largest winery in the country. It’s also home to Dennis Horton. He was born there in 1945 and grew up hearing about the official grape of the State of Missouri, the Norton. As an adult, Horton developed a passion for winemaking and kept vines in his backyard. In 1977 he and his wife, Sharon, found themselves in Virginia, where the Norton grape was first cultivated. Twelve years later, they decided to take their hobby to the next level: they started a vineyard. The Hortons devoted the bulk of their acreage to Norton vines, with cuttings purchased from Dennis’s hometown winery, Stone Hill. Today, Horton Vineyards is credited with the resurgence of the Norton grape in Virginia. From our 2008 oral history interview with Horton:
There’s not many states that have a native winemaking grape [like the Norton grape]. And I thought it would behoove the marketing end of the stick to be able to deal with a grape that came from Virginia, made in Virginia, and produces a nice bottle of red wine. And it proved to be successful.
The Hortons also pioneered the plantation of Viognier in the region. But Dennis Horton is one part visionary, one part businessman. In addition to his celebration of native, as well as European varietals, Horton produces nine different fruit wines to cater to sweeter Southern palates.

Visit our Wine in the South oral history project to learn more about the Norton grape, hear stories about the South's native Muscadine, and even hear tell of blueberry wine made by the nephew of Davie County, North Carolina's biggest bootlegger.

Tuesday, August 23


Very soon, the Southern Foodways Alliance will hold our annual election for the board of directors. We are soliciting nominations for candidates effective immediately. Please click here to download a nomination form with instructions.

In 2011, the SFA Board seeks to fill a vacancy with a nominee who has financial and/or fundraising experience. This individual will participate with the entire board, and their specific committee responsibility will be organizing and managing a finance and fundraising group. Please submit nomination forms, NO LATER THAN THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, to Nominees must be current SFA members in good standing. Self-nominations are accepted.

A brief job description: Board members are expected to attend approximately three meetings each year, at their own expense. One meeting is held in the spring and one in the summer, at locations TBA, and one meeting occurs at the annual Southern Foodways Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. In addition to full board meetings, members participate in committee meetings once monthly via conference call. Board members are also requested to attend as many SFA events as possible throughout the year, to help with the events and interact with the general membership. Term of service is three years, with a two-term limit.

Nominations will be sent to the SFA Board Nominating Committee, who will review the suggestions, speak to nominees, and prepare the slate for the election. The Nominating Committee is led by board member Bill Smith, and includes advisors from the general membership.

Thank you, in advance, for your good ideas and service.


Our friends at The Communal Skillet made grape leaf pickles last week. The tannins in the grape leaves keep the cucumbers extra crunchy as they pickle. And doesn't everybody want a crunchy pickle?

Monday, August 22


Today was the first day of classes here at the University of Mississippi. The campus is buzzing. So is the SFA office.

Jill Cooley, who recently received her doctorate in history from the University of Alabama, will serve as the SFA's first post-doctoral fellow in foodways. She's in place and ready to go, with her first class scheduled for later this week.

Also joining the SFA are grad students Susie Penman and Roy Button. Susie is a second-year graduate student in Southern Studies.

Roy, however, is brand-new on campus. He arrives by way of the University of California: Berkeley, where he studied history and developed an interest in foodways. He found the master's program in Southern Studies by way of the slogan above. What he told us today is that he saw one of the shirts that Billy Reid makes in tribute to the SFA, visited his website, followed a link to the SFA's, and drilled down into the site of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

We're pleased Roy descended that sartorial rabbit hole. Welcome all.

Friday, August 19


1. You know what would pair perfectly with a Southern six-pack—or any six-pack, for that matter? This lamb-sausage hot dog from the Carrboro [NC] Farmers' Market.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, The Pig restaurant (a new-ish kid on the barbecue block in Chapel Hill) sets up a hot dog cart at the CFM, and market-goers line up for dogs made of pasture-raised pork or lamb merguez sausage. (We waited behind local pastrami savant Matt Neal, who serves up a near-perfect dog himself with wife Sheila at Neal's Deli.) This one featured fresh cucumber pickles, crispy (read: fried) seasoned chickpeas, and Harissa sauce, and was served on a homemade bun from fellow market vendor Chicken Bridge Bakery. It was a delicious combination of the global and the local. For more stories behind the North Carolina Triangle's local food scene, stay tuned for our Carrboro Farmers' Market oral history project, coming later this fall.

2. From Slick Willie to Slim Willie? In an effort to protect his heart, Bill Clinton is sticking to a near-vegan diet.

3. The latest New York Times "Room for Debate" feature asks, "Could Farms Survive Without Illegal Labor?" It's a question the cultivated South must consider.

4. In New Orleans, Café Reconcile offers job training and a brighter future to troubled youth; gumbo and pot roast to eager diners.

5. Be careful what you Tweet: a not-so-sneaky snark attack recently got a Houston woman kicked out of a restaurant.

6. Ever heard of Sean Brock? It seems he might be going places: Bon Appetit has just named his Husk Restaurant in Charleston, SC, the "Best New Restaurant in America." 

Thursday, August 18


Novelist and Mississippi native Ralph Eubanks on "The Help"

"When I went to see the movie The Help last weekend, I didn't want to like it. Yet in spite of its polished portrayal of the civil rights era, the film version of Kathryn Stockett's novel captures a window into the fear and suspicion that lurked between blacks and whites in 1960s Mississippi. Even with the film's Hollywood twists, I recognized on the screen the place where I grew up."

Here's the rest of the Eubanks piece, from NPR. Good reading, and watching, to you. 


Kids are heading back to school. And they're getting out freshly sharpened pencils and writing in their crisp composition notebooks what they did on their summer vacation.

In that spirit, I'm sharing what I drank on my summer vacation (and what you should drink as you squeeze in the final days of summer).

One of my favorite things about summer are the fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road (the precursor to the modern day farmer's market trend). I just loved that I could buy fruit, still warm from sunbathing on the tree, straight from the family who picked it. When we're back in South Carolina on vacation in the summer, I like to find road-side stands for peaches, strawberries, watermelons, and boiled peanuts.

Digression? I don't think so. Strawberry Vodka. I got the idea in late June from David Lebovitz. All you do is clean and cut up the fruit. Cover with plain vodka. Steep for 4-5 days (who can wait that long?) at least 2 days. Discard fruit. I used the vodka with a splash of tonic and a squeeze of lime. Delicious and refreshing. There's still some of you that can find ripe and tasty strawberries.

photo courtesy of David Lebovitz

On to the next fresh veggie-inspired cocktail. My brother made habañero tequila (see the danger/cross & skull bones? it's serious stuff!). Mixed with grapefruit juice, it is ON POINT! We called it a margarita b/c we put salt on the rim of our glasses. This cocktail will slightly burn your lips and mouth for the first few sips. Hurts so good.

photo courtesy of Eric Thome

Whether you're savoring the end of summer or toasting to the oncoming school year, get yourself some liquor, fruit or peppers, and be an stay-at-home mixologist.

Here's a recipe for you: Watermelon Jalapeño Cocktail Cooler

Rather let someone else do the mixing for you? Order a Southern Screwdriver at Husk or a Dewberry Swizzle at Anvil Bar & Refuge.

Wednesday, August 17


Mock-up of the marker to be installed in Rosedale, MS.
Image courtesy of MS Blues Commission.

Mississippi Delta hot tamales are to appear on a Mississippi Blues Trail marker that will speak to iconic bluesman Robert Johnson's influences in and around the town of Rosedale. The marker ceremony will be held on Friday, August 26, in front of Joe's Hot Tamale Place in Rosedale, a stop on the SFA's Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.

We have a Tamales & Music section on the Tamale Trail that talks about this connection and features the lyrics to Robert Johnson's 1936 song "They're Red Hot":
Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale
Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale
She got two for a nickel, got four for a dime
Would sell you more, but they ain't none of mine
Hot tamales and they're red hot, yes she got'em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got'em for sale, yes, yeah
The mission of the Mississippi Blues Commission is to "foster an appreciation of the Blues and the culture that created it." We're thrilled that the commission sees fit to include the Delta's rich culinary culture, tamales in particular, as part of the Blues Trail.

If you find yourself wandering the Delta next week, please join us in Rosedale on August 26 to help us celebrate. The ceremony is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter will be in attendance--and likely eating her fair share of tamales.

POSTSCRIPT: Joe Pope of Joe's Hot Tamale Place passed away in December 2004 and was the inspiration for our Tamale Trail. Read the In Memoriam page that we created in his honor as we began collecting fieldwork for the project just a handful of months after his passing. Today, Joe's sister, Barbara Pope, carries on his tamale legacy.

Tuesday, August 16


Over at The Cookbook Blog, they're cooking up some Cheerwine BBQ Chicken, courtesy of The SFA Community Cookbook. The verdict: delicious and easy. Looking for Cheerwine, that sugary red cherry drink? Start in North Carolina. Or check out this link on the Cheerwine website to find the nearest store by you, or have it shipped directly to your door.

Postcard photo courtesy of whinendine on FlickR.
Also, we would be remiss if we did not remind you that today is the 34th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Celebrate his life with some good music and a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner tonight. And add bacon.

Monday, August 15


This morning we posted a variety of academic responses to the movie and the book "The Help."

In the wake of that post, we've heard from a number of people who shared other essays of interest, including this one from the Association of Black Women Historians.

And we've heard from academics with positive views of the film, too, who plan to use the movie as a teaching aid in classes this fall.

On the social end of the spectrum, we just read a Daily Beast piece that addresses, among other matters,  ways that "The Help"-fueled Hollywood investment, and hometown champions like Bill Crump and Sylvester Hoover, have combined to catalyze positive change in  the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, Mississippi.


"The Help," the movie, debuted nationwide last Wednesday. Based on the Kathryn Stockett novel of the same name, and filmed mostly in Greenwood, Mississippi, it's earning good box office and getting good to mixed reviews.

Here's the NYT review, by Manhola Dargis, who calls the film a "big, ole slab of honey-glazed hokum," but celebrates the "determined grace" of actor Viola Davis.

Valerie Boyd, author of the Zora Neal Hurston biography, Wrapped in Rainbows, takes a harsher view in her essay on the film and on broader cultural concerns.

In the next issue of Gravy, the SFA's food letter, we run an essay by Audrey Petty of the University of Illinois. She appraises Stockett's book against a backdrop of an incisive new academic book Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens, written by Rebecca Sharpless, and published by UNC Press.

Speaking of Sharpless, in an H-Net review, Alexander Hendley of UC-Santa Barbara calls her book "an important contribution to the existing historical research on African American women domestic workers and their employers in the United States."

Friday, August 12


1. Southern BBQ jumps the pond.

2. Lard, and bacon grease, and rendered ham fat, and butter. Oh, my. Sean Brock's secret for perfect fried chicken.

3. Ashley's Restaurant(s).

4. A Louisiana crawfish by any other name still tastes as sweet.

5. There's nothing cheesy about these Southern made cheeses.

6. Love Kitchen serves more than a meal.

Thursday, August 11


Photo courtesy of Sean Brock/Husk (@hseanbrock/Twitpic)

Country ham. Carved luge. Add bourbon.
Discuss amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, August 10


This year's programming theme, the Cultivated South, is about more than digging in the dirt. It's also about raising soft-shell crabs, harvesting shrimp, and tonging for oysters.

We invite you to revisit the subjects of our 2006 oral history project Florida's Forgotten Coast, an in-depth look at the seafood industry that depends on the Apalachicola Bay and the bounty found within its waters.

The interview featured above is with A. L. "Unk" Quick, an oysterman out of Eastpoint, Florida, who started working the bay at the age of 17. Amy Evans Streeter, our oral historian who conducted these interviews, is still in contact with Unk. Today, he's even more disheartened by the state of his beloved bay.

Tuesday, August 9


SFA is privileged to now have two blogs cooking their way through our SFA Community Cookbook. And, with their latest posts, they're offering the perfect side dishes for a cookout.
Over at the Communal Skillet, they're debating the merits of mayo in cole slaw. SFA's version of Carolina slaw has very little of it, and our testers deem it a winner.
At The Cookbook Blog, macaroni and cheese using only a single variety of cheese--really good cheese, mind you--is celebrated. Check out both posts as you plan your menus this weekend.

Monday, August 8


If you're on Twitter, you already follow the SFA @potlikker. (Don't you?) While we do our best to bring you news, history, first-hand stories, and other tidbits from the world of foodways, we're not the only ones out there. Try adding another dose of nerdery to your feed by following @foodtimeline. Lynne Olver is a librarian and culinary historian who has maintained a website called Food Timeline since 1999. And while the site's no-frills design harkens back to the dark days of the twentieth century, it's a mother lode of fascinating information (check out the grocery section from a 1917 Sears Roebuck catalog, above).

But back to Olver's Twitter feed, @foodtimeline. If you've ever wondered about the history of the salad bar, or the cupcake, or the cheese straw, @foodtimeline is for you. You might find inspiration for your next term paper, or at least a fun fact for cocktail-party fodder.