Thursday, March 31

RIDE THAT PIG TO....THE INDIE GRITS FILM FEST


The Indie Grits Film Fest
Columbia, SC
April 13-17

Indie Grits is an opportunity for experienced and first-time media makers to come together and share their interest in independent media production. The four days will include lots of films (obviously), a craft fair, and a Slow Food chefs' tasting party and potluck.

Joe York and Emile DeFelice will be at the festival, presenting one of the Southern Foodways Alliance's newest films, Ride That Pig to Glory. Showtime is Saturday, April 16 at 8:15pm.

Read more about the films and purchase tickets here.

JOIN US FOR OUR NEXT POTLIKKER FILM FEST IN GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, ON APRIL 9!



On April 9 from 6-9 p.m., the Southern Foodways Alliance will pitch its tent at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate. On the menu: SFA-produced South Carolina foodways films. Smart words. Good local drinks. Honest local foods. Cool music. Good company.
By way of Joe York-directed films and George Singleton-crafted words, we will celebrate South Carolina food titans like Emile DeFelice, and Glenn Roberts.
Joe and Heidi Trull of Grits and Groceries, Joe Clark of American Grocery, Shaun Garcia of Soby’s, Anthony Gray of High Cotton, and John and Amy Malik of the late great 33 Liberty will be our cooks for the evening. You’ll taste potlikker, and other delights. You'll sip refreshment from local favorite Thomas Creek Brewing.
Tickets, priced at $50 per person, include food, drink, music, films, and, for a lucky few, a cool door prize. Available by advance purchase only. Click here to buy tickets. E-mail here with questions.


Wednesday, March 30

NEW ORAL HISTORY COLLABORATION WITH THE SOUTHERN RURAL BLACK WOMEN'S INITIATIVE


The SFA is embarking on a collaboration with the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative (SRBWI), a three-state initiative in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi that "promotes the first human rights agenda in the United States aimed at eradicating historical race, class, cultural, religious and gender barriers experienced by Southern rural black women." The short film featured above is a great introduction to the organization and its New Visions program, a formal effort to engage and involve young women in the work of SRBWI through teaching marketable skills in media technology and production. 

A few months ago, the SRBWI contacted SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter to inquire about oral history training for their New Visions students. That conversation led to the development of a project to document the farmers in the SRBWI's Women in Agriculture Program, a branch of which is in the Mississippi Delta. 

Next month, Amy will meet with a group of students from the Mississippi branch of the New Visions program to mentor them in the field of oral history and organize a project to collect interviews with farmers from the Mississippi Delta's Women in Agriculture program--stories that we look forward to featuring as part of this year's SFA programming theme, the Cultivated South.

We'll keep you posted on this exciting collaboration. In the meantime, visit the SRBWI website for more information on the organization and its inspiring programs.

Tuesday, March 29

WHY HEIRLOOM SEEDS MATTER


As the weather warms, many of us are turning attention to summer gardens. And if Jere Gettle has his say about how we plant, we'll all use heirloom seeds. At 16, Gettle joined Seed Savers Exchange. His passing interest became a lifelong passion, and now it's his career. As owner and manager of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, near Mansfield, Missouri, Gettle distributes over 100,000 catalogues annually. His seed collection is considered one of the best in the country.

You'll recall that some years back, the SFA profiled Bill Best, also a seed saver. Saving Seeds was our first foray into film, and it was a finalist for Slow Food's Golden Snail award. Click here to view that first SFA documentary short, and also check out the five minute clip about Gettle at the top of this post. It is featured on the website The People Who Feed Us, and was produced by a group called Slow Films.

Wednesday, March 23

SFA WORK FEATURED IN EXHIBIT ON NEW IMMIGRANTS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

Photo by Kate Medley for the SFA

The photograph above will be featured as part of the Johnson County Museum's upcoming exhibit "New Immigrants and the American Dream." The Johnson County Museum is located in Shawnee, Kansas. The exhibit opens on March 25 and will remain on view through January 29, 2012. From the museum's website:
This exhibition, produced by the Johnson County Museum, looks at how changes in U.S. immigration policy have impacted who comes to the U.S. and the life they find here. It also explores the lives of immigrants in suburban communities and the role of the American Dream in shaping their experiences.
The image is part of our project that documents Atlanta's Buford Highway and is from the oral history interview with Harold Shinn of the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  The fieldwork was conducted for the SFA by our friend and colleague Kate Medley and was featured as part of last year's programming theme, The Global South.


Tuesday, March 22

IS BANNING SHARK FIN SOUP RACIST?

Sandbar Shark image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program.

"Globally, we've reached the point at which the collapse of an ecosystem has to take precedence over one culture's culinary heritage. No matter who the primary 'market' is, overconsumption is taking sharks -- and bluefin tuna, and Atlantic cod, and hundreds of other species -- away from all of us, and we all have a right to demand action. The situation is becoming drastic, and drastic, across-the-board bans are warranted." -- SF Weekly's Jon Kauffman.

Three Western states are on the verge of banning shark fin soup. The fines will be stiff, the penalties harsh, even for first time offenders. Proponents of the legislation point to the inhumane way fins are harvested, as well as a depleting population of sharks (73 million killed per year), which will have unprecedented (and largely unknown) effects on underwater ecosystems. Opponents of the ban on shark fins say it's racist; lawmakers are posturing and targeting a food associated with Asian populations, but not targeting other overfished species enjoyed by larger voting constituencies. Click here to read the Salon article for more information on this issue.

What do you think? When does one's right to enjoy their own culinary heritage outweigh the importance of a community's ecosystem, or is that ever the case?

Monday, March 21

THE FINAL FOUR OF SOUTHERN FOOD?

Fried Chicken vs. Deviled Eggs. Tomato Pie vs. Peach Cobbler. Pick your favorite to win Garden & Gun's Ultimate Southern Food Bracket. Visit the G&G Facebook page to cast your vote(s) and have a hand in crowning 2011's Ultimate Southern Food Champion.

Sunday, March 20

FOOD, SEX, AND THE SCRAMBLED SCRIPTURES

On Friday, March 25 at 9:30 My Sister's Room in Atlanta, will stage "Food, Sex and the Scrambled Scriptures," a "woman's Bible/Torah/red tent comedy."

Millie Coleman, whom many symposium-goers will recall as "the hat lady", will be use food and belief systems to re-imagine the story of Rebecca and Issac's engagement from Genesis 24:2-67 as "Becky Ann and Ike Get Hitched."

Sponsored by the Southeast Women's Studies Association Conference, the evening is called, "Subversive Desires, Revolutionary Dialogues: Women of Color, Working Class, and Queer Voices on Sexuality."

-- Picture, of Millie and her daughter Carina enjoying tea, courtesy Millie Coleman.

Thursday, March 17

SFA FILMS @ FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL

The 20th Annual Florida Film Festival: Fresh-Squeezed Indies
April 8-17, 2011

Premieres of the best in cutting-edge current cinema; indulgent experiences in food and film; a blissful mix of industry parties and special events; a star-packed attendee list--this is the 20th annual Florida Film Festival, which takes place over 10 days around Central Florida.

Southern Foodways Alliance will be showing new works by Joe York, including Ride That Pig to Glory, Blessing of the Fleet, CUD, Smokes & Ears, Phat Tai, and the world premiere of Deadliest Throw. Showtime is Sunday, April 10 at 2:00pm at the Regal Winter Park Village.

Read more about the films and purchase tickets here.



Wednesday, March 16

BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO SOME OLDER PROJECTS



This year we collected our 500th oral history interview. After almost ten years in the field, a lot has changed. Namely, the way we share these stories with you. Today, we're taking the best advantage of technology and featuring audio slideshows as part of each interview archived online. Unfortunately, there are some older projects that don't feature this technology, but we're doing our best to catch them up.

Former SFA intern and current grad assistant Meghan Leonard has spent time with some of older oral history projects, breathing new life into them with current technology. Take Rodman Meacham's interview from 2005, for example, which is featured above. His interview, as well as the rest of our Kentucky Bacon project it is part of, has been updated with an audio slideshow, marrying his voice with photographs from his family's ham house in Sturgis, Kentucky. All of the interviews from our Bartenders of New Orleans project have been updated, as well.

We hope you'll take the time to revisit these stories. They're certainly worth a listen.

Tuesday, March 15

GOODBYE, EASY-BAKE OVEN

Photo from Salon.com

When the federal ban on incandescent lightbulbs takes effect, it won't only be the traditional light bulb that becomes extinct. When the lights go out, so too will Easy-Bake Ovens. We adults will be left only with memories of undercooked chocolate cake mixes and cornbread, with no way to share the experience with our own children...unless we stock up on lightbulbs now! To take a walk down memory lane with cooking toys from your past, visit Salon by clicking here. And to see a photo history of the Easy-Bake Oven, click here. And, while supplies last, use a lightbulb to bake a cake with your little one.

Friday, March 11

LISTEN TO SFA AUDIO CLIPS VIA BROADCASTR ON iPHONES & ANDROIDS!

Broadcastr, the new audio-based social media site that we've partnered with to feature audio clips from our oral history archive, launched its FREE iPhone and Android apps yesterday! Now you can listen audio clips from SFA oral history projects on the go. 

Of course you can also join Broadcastr and record clips of your own. Try it! Document your world!

Visit www.Broadcastr.com to access the apps. Search for the Southern Foodways Alliance to hear our stories, and follow us to stay up to date as we post new ones. 

Thursday, March 10

CHARLESTON POTLIKKER RECAP, part 2


A second installment of our Charleston Potlikker Recap is all about John Simpkins and Vertamae Grosvenor. John gave remarks that were right on...smart and heartwarming.

John was kind enough to share his remarks with us again, which we've posted below:

Everybody seems to know about Charleston’s food, but not enough know about its music. If you want to sample both, I would recommend a Friday afternoon starting with “Ham on a Plate” at Husk and then heading over to Charleston Grill, where the only charge for hearing good jazz is the cost of a drink or truffle popcorn. And I suggest Friday because that’s when the first string squad plays: Quentin Baxter on drums, Tommy Gill on piano, Kevin Hamilton on stand-up bass, and Charlton Singleton on trumpet. They’re as tight a group as you’ll find. Each a master of his instrument.

If it’s a particularly good night, you might look in the left corner and see Quentin at the drumset, eyes closed, long dreadlocks swaying gently, meditating on a rhythm that keeps the whole group moving along seamlessly. Virtually hypnotized, it’s usually at this point that I close my eyes and join in the prayerful mood.

But, as I tend to do during prayerful moments, last Friday I kept my eyes open. There was a sound I heard coming from the drums and I couldn’t quite make out what exactly Q was hitting. It wasn’t the snare or the bass drum. Wasn’t the tom-toms or the hi-hat, either. Instead, he was tapping ever so slightly on the telescoping cymbal stand. And that made all the difference. The result was hard to describe. It made me think of how Vertamae Grosvenor described her own jazz variation on Salad Nicoise. “[It] is a French name,” she said, “but just like with anything else when soul folks get it they take it out into another thing.”

Last Friday, Quentin took it out into another thing. Something musky and earthy. What the French call “terroir” but what we in the Lowcountry experience as funk… gutbucket and funk. And there ain’t no shame in gutbucket. Quentin uses the drums like poor people use the pig. Everything but the “oink.” Nothing goes to waste.

But the challenge of gutbucket is to use it without becoming defined by it. Like with southern food. There are still those outside the region who see it as just low-class, faddish cuisine created from the cheap leftovers after the good stuff is gone. But if people have been resourceful enough—and talented enough—to find a use for the seemingly unusable, imagine what they could do with new ingredients, new tools, and new instruments? Thankfully, through the work of Vertamae Grosvenor, we don’t have to imagine. She shows us a way beyond gutbucket when she says

Soul food is more than chitlins and collard greens, ham hocks

and black-eyed peas. . . . [It] is about a people who have a lot

of heart and soul.

Vertamae Grosvenor cooks, writes, and lives like Quentin Baxter plays…with heart and soul. And her heart and soul are certainly of the Lowcountry. But they are so much more. Nothing captures her capacity more than the amiri baraka poem at the beginning of Vibration Cooking:

walk through life

beautiful more than anything

stand in the sunlight

walk through life

love all the things that make you strong,

be lovers,

be anything

for all the people of

earth

Thank you, Vertamae Grosvenor, for daring to be gutbucket and more. For having the heart and soul to be anything for all the people of the earth.

Wednesday, March 9

CHARLESTON POTLIKKER RECAP, part 1

We had a ball last week in Charleston at the Potlikker Film Festival. As promised, we enjoyed SFA-produced Lowcountry foodways films; smart words by John Simpkins; local, oyster-flavored beer; good, honest eats from the likes of Sean Brock, Robert Stehling, and Sarah O'Kelley; cool music from Mr. Jenkins; and of course the good company of old and new friends.

Films included shorts (all part of the larger project, Southern Food: The Movie) which took us to Caw Caw Creek Farms, Bowen's Island, Anson Mills, Bertha's, and squirrel hunting with the Colleton family.

photo courtesy of Joe York

Joe York, the director, filmmaker, and producer of the film shorts, visited the Colleton family in McClellanville, South Carolina for Thanksgiving last year. Joe joined in the traditional squirrel hunt, and he describes it below...

"For the better part of the morning we worked our way through the deep woods, pulling and shaking on the vines that hung down from the tall oaks and pines trying to scare up a few squirrels from their nests. The hunt is an exercise in patience and vigilance, not unlike playing poker or watching Big Ten football in that almost nothing happens for a long while and then, without warning, everything happens at once. Unlike watching Big Ten football, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

After the hunt, the squirrels are squinged – the hair is removed with fire – as is being done above, and then they are cleaned and gutted. These squirrels went into a pot and were stewed for several hours.

They were delicious enough to be a meal unto themselves. Instead they were served alongside venison, fried quail, two turkeys (one smoked and one fried), okra soup, conch soup, a Boston butt, several slabs of ribs, sweet potato poon, broccoli casserole, collard greens, macaroni & cheese, red rice, and about a dozen other sides I can’t call to mind at this moment, nevermind the desserts."

photo courtesy of Joe York

Visit our Vimeo page to see the film, Giving Thanks in Awendaw.

WHERE HAVE ALL OF CHICAGO'S SOUL FOOD RESTAURANTS GONE?

Enda's. Army & Lou's. Gladys's Luncheonette. Soul Queen. Izola's. That's five iconic Chicago soul food joints gone in the past few years, and three of them have closed just in the past two months. What's going on?

Enda Stewart, matriarch of Enda's Restaurant and one of the interview subjects from our Chicago Eats oral history project, passed away last year, and there was no one left to keep the business going once she was gone. But for places like Izola's, also part of our Chicago Eats project, the sluggish economy is to blame. Read more about the closing of famed soul food restaurants throughout the Windy City in this recent article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Edna Stewart with her brother, Sam Mitchell Jr, 2008. Photo by Amy Evans Streeter.

But, there is some good news. Thanks to Mike Sula at the Chicago Reader, we've just learned that Edna's Restaurant has reopened! Henry Henderson, one of Edna's former produce suppliers, along with Edna's longtime chef and manager Lillian Joiner, came together to reopen this iconic restaurant in December. The menu is the same. The recipes are the same. Most of the employees are the same. Only the name has changed: Enda's is now Ruby's. Read Mike's great article about this momentous occasion right here.


Today, March 9, would have marked the 45th anniversary of the day Edna and her father opened Edna's Restaurant.


Go out and eat some soul food today, y'all. The Chicago Reader has posted a great list of soul food "survivors".



Tuesday, March 8

Special Mardi Gras Edition - OKRACAST - Roman Candy Man


Listen as Sara Roahen, an SFA oral historian, sits down with New Orleans Roman Candy Man, Ron Kottemann.
Ron Kottemann acknowledges that New Orleanians are captivated by the very sight of the nearly century-old, wooden, mule-drawn cart that his grandfather designed and that Ron now directs down Uptown’s backstreets and through New Orleans traffic. And if that vision doesn’t tug at their heartstrings, Ron’s taffy-like Roman Chewing Candy hooks them at the sweet tooth. Rolled in wax paper and sold in roughly foot-long sticks, the candy comes in three flavors—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry—all developed by Ron’s grandfather, Sam Cortese. Sam toyed with more flavors but limited the variety so that customers couldn’t be too wishy-washy in their selections. A street vendor needs to keep moving.
Happy Mardi Gras!
For instructions on downloading Okracasts, click here.

SFA COMMUNITY COOKBOOK AWARDS

A good night for the SFA Community Cookbook!

Monday, we learned that our modern-day homage to Southern spiral bounds of yore won one award and was nominated for another. Congratulations go to Sara Roahen and the other collaborators, Sheri Castle, Tim Davis, Angie Mosier, Fred Sauceman, and April McGreger.

The Gourmand Awards, presented in Paris, showcase the best culinary writing in the world. 154 countries were represented. The SFA Community Cookbook won the American category for fundraising, charity, and community cookbooks.

Also announced on Monday were nominations for the International Association of Culinary Professionals awards. Compilations is our category and here are the contenders:

The Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser, Southern Living: 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern, by the editors of Southern Living, and The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge.

Wednesday, March 2

ANNUAL LEBANESE DINNER IN VICKSBURG, MS

SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter and her daughter, Sofia, with Mary Lousie Nosser at Monday night's dinner.
~

Monday night saw the fifty-first annual Lebanese Dinner at St. George's Orthodox Church in Vicksburg, MS.

More than 3,000 people poured through the doors to receive plates of kibbe and cabbage rolls, including SFA staffers Amy Evans Streeter and Mary Beth Lasseter. Amy interviewed Ms. Nosser last summer for the SFA's Delta Lebanese project, and Mary Beth, who lives in Vicksburg, actually helped cook some of the food this year. She helped the women of St. George put together 11,000 (!) cabbage rolls.
Mary Louise Nosser has been helping with the dinner since 1968. Visit her oral history interview to learn about her life and the work she does to help carry on the culinary traditions of the Lebanese community in this part of the Mississippi Delta.

Learn more about St. George's Orthodox Church here.

THE SFA PARTNERS WITH BROADCASTR

The SFA is on Broadcastr
Broadcastr, a new social-media platform for location-based audio, launched on Monday. The site lets people create and share recordings on an interactive map. It's like a museum tour of the whole world, and we're proud to be a part of it.
We were invited to join Broadcastr during the private beta phase, and we we've already posted hundreds of stories from our archive. Our entire collection of oral history interviews will eventually be represented. In addition to featuring our documentary work, we'll also be posting information about events and dispatches from the field.
Visit www.Broadcastr.com and search for the Southern Foodways Alliance to hear our stories, and follow us to stay up to date as we post new ones. 

Tuesday, March 1

RECIPE SEARCH? LOOK NO FURTHER THAN NYU

Image courtesy of Fales Library blog. See Jan. 25 post.

NYU's Fales Library recently inherited a 3,500 volume cookbook collection from Gourmet magazine. This brings the total number of cookbooks in the collection to about 55,000, per Marvin Taylor, director of Special Collections at the Fales Library.

But it's not only cookbooks that the cookery collection archives. They have books and pamphlets and artifacts, and -- though just started in 2003 -- they now have the largest food studies collection in the United States.

To read more about their holdings, or do some digging in the online catalog, visit the Fales Library website here. SFA friends in the New York area will also appreciate the helpful list of other cookery archives in NYC at the bottom of the page.