Thursday, June 30
But, apparently, that's not enough. Wild Turkey has a new $50 million facility; Maker's Mark just completed a $50 million expansion; Jim Beam is spending $26 million expanding their bottling plant...and these are just a few examples. Money is being pumped into the bourbon industry. The question is--why? What's going on here?
According to the Associated Press, "producers are aiming to quench a thirst for bourbon - especially premium brands - that is steady in the U.S. and rapidly expanding overseas, thanks in part to the comeback of cocktails appealing to younger adults and a larger middle class in emerging markets."
Bourbon is for the classics like the Manhattan, for the newer cocktail creations (like Greg Best's Pig-Pik Sour), and for the tried and true two-fingers-splashed-in-your-favorite-sipping-glass... but I digress. There's little wonder that this brown delicacy that calls the South its home is finding new fans worldwide.
So, drink up. We won't run out. For a long, long [long] time.
Want to know more about what's going on inside the bar? Read our oral histories on Louisville Barroom Culture.
Wednesday, June 29
Tuesday, June 28
Monday, June 27
Saturday, June 25
1. Summer officially began earlier this week, and in honor of the season, The New York Times offers ideas for simple and refreshing cocktails with three ingredients or fewer. One of the experts they consulted was spirits savant Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston. Be on the lookout for another one of Bobby's signature libations in the August issue of GRAVY.
2. If you missed photographer Landon Nordeman's stunning barbecue portraits in the latest issue of Saveur, catch the audio slideshow on the magazine's website.
3. Kim Severson discovers Austin trio The Beat Divas, who shake up their cooking classes with food-themed songs, both original and classic.
4. The Atlantic's Corby Kummer visits "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" a new exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
5. How does your garden grow? If it could use a little help this summer, take a lesson from John Coykendall, Master Gardener at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn.
6. The South's booming Hispanic population has brought a host of top-notch (but often under-the-radar) taquerias to the region. But if you're looking to branch out, try a pupusa, the Salvadoran corn-masa pancake stuffed with beans, meat, cheese, or vegetables. Here's a how-to video on vegetarian pupusas from La Macarena restaurant in New Orleans.
Thursday, June 23
We "offer authentic, responsible, and damn good food and drink at all of our events. We know where the food we share comes from, who prepares it, and how it can tell stories of our region." (it's so important, that it's part of our Values Statement)
Yeah, we like to eat and drink well. But our plate and cup have context. The smell, the taste, the experience...it reads like a history book of our place.
This weekend, on the SFA Field Trip, our plates will tell plenty about the Cajun Country and its people. Our beer will too. We'll be drinking LA 31 from Bayou Teche Brewing. The Louisiana-based company was founded with a mission to craft beers that complement the cuisine and lifestyle of Cajuns and Creoles.
This summer, there's a new release from Bayou Teche. Boucanèe, a smoked wheat ale, is a nod to the wild cherry tree of south Louisiana (both the fruit and the tree logs in the smokehouse). The new ale is meant to enhance the flavors of many local dishes.
Not hitting the road to Cajun Country with us this weekend? Be with us in spirit: sit back and crack open a smoky one.
Wednesday, June 22
Tuesday, June 21
Monday, June 20
The French Press: A Freshly Brewed Spin on Cajun Classics
by Rien T. Fertel
“Hey Otis, can we play some Bobby Charles now?” sous chef Nick Belloni shouts as he flips a saucer-shaped boudin patty on the grill. The French Press, in Lafayette, Louisiana, opened for breakfast less than an hour ago. Otis Doucet obliges, explaining that the late swamp-pop icon from Abbeville, Louisiana, is the kitchen’s Sunday-morning standard.
The room begins to rock like a boat on the Bayou Teche. The sweet and steady voice of Bobby Charles sets the kitchen pace. As the third track starts, chef Justin Girouard sighs, “‘I Must Be in a Good Place Now’—I love this song.” He may be talking about the song title. Or his state of being. Maybe both.
Breakfast is a serious endeavor at The French Press. Girouard pralines his bacon. He stuffs French toast with bananas and cream cheese. And he baptizes that toast with strawberry-champagne compote.
And then there’s the boudin, made by his Uncle Sammy at Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice. The French Press goes through fifty pounds of the spicy meat-and-rice sausage every week. Among the highlights of that collaboration is an Acadian Breakfast Sandwich of eggs, bacon, and boudin, stacked between slices of locally baked Evangeline Maid Texas Toast, bound with a slice of bright-orange American cheese.
Gooey cheese-glue also plays a part in the Cajun Benedict of Langlinais French Bread, two poached eggs, and boudin. Instead of hollandaise, chicken and andouille gumbo provides the drench.
Girouard, who is of French-Acadian background, earned his stripes at the restaurant Stella! in New Orleans. As a college student, he signed on as a dishwasher. Soon he was shredding cheese and chopping onions. He became chef Scott Boswell’s sous chef within three years, before moving to Stanley, Boswell’s upscale Jackson Square diner.
Margaret Collier Girouard—who conjured the gumbo-bath for the Cajun Benedict while pregnant—also dreamed up the restaurant’s name. Her choice was fated. Planning the eatery, the couple wanted to serve the same pot-pressed coffee they drank at home. Propitiously, the downtown location they secured for the restaurant was once the Tribune Printing Plant. Here, antique wooden movable-type pieces decorate the brick walls, and black ink swaths still stain the floors.
Breakfast is the lodestar here, so much so that, on the two weekend nights that the restaurant opens for dinner, Justin Girouard and his crew incorporate breakfast techniques into entrées. A bacon-and-English-muffin-encrusted, deep-fried poached egg crowns the filet mignon. Seared foie gras tops molé-slathered cornmeal pancakes. Sometimes those fattened livers are tucked under sunny-side-up quail eggs.
Meanwhile, weekday breakfast continues to evolve. For their most recent invention, Girouard and his staff dreamed up the Sweet Baby Breesus, a biscuit slider that sandwiches a flat of bacon and a fried boudin ball. Otis, the man with his finger on the pulse of all sorts of sweetness, came through with the winning addition—a none-too-subtle swipe of Steen’s cane syrup, an Abbeville product with a history that dates back more than a century. The name of the dish, of course, references more recent Louisiana history: the Drew Brees–led victory of the New Orleans Saints in last year’s Super Bowl.
Rien T. Fertel, a bi-coastal South Louisianian living on the Mississippi River and the Bayou Teche, is writing a dissertation on New Orleans Creole literature. He is proud to celebrate 5 years of SFA membership in October.
A confession: We SFA folk are lurkers on the ASFS list serve.
That's the mechanism by which the leading academics in foodways studies and food studies (is there a difference?) share ideas and debate wonkishly cool research.
If those 4 letters, arranged in that particular order, are new to you, ASFS is the Association for the Study of Food and Society. In addition to that list serve, which is pretty darn active, and which you can subscribe to by way of their website, they publish a journal, give out awards, and stage conferences.
Of late our lurking has yielded pissy debates about whether certain academic conferences on food are honest endeavors, short histories of this nation's food stamp programs, treatises on the vulgarity of toothpicks, and recaps of Jon Stewart's televised critique of Donald Trump's pizza knowledge.
Varied, sometimes idiosyncratic, sometimes insular, ASFS is worth your while if you, like the staff here at SFA world headquarters, keep one foot in the academy and one foot in the kitchen.
Friday, June 17
This week we debut our "Southern Six-Pack," in which we bring you a half-dozen stories that caught our attention this week. Every Friday we'll be serving up a fresh batch. (But if you're worth your weight in cracklins, you already check the SFA blog every weekday or subscribe to our RSS feed.)
1. Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans teaches high-school students how to raise and market their own food.
2. Floods wreak havoc on rice crops in Arkansas, which produces nearly half of the nation's rice.
3. Think twice before you order Bananas Foster. In Palm Harbor, Florida, a waiter used 151-proof alcohol to ignite the flaming dessert, injuring four diners.
4. Do restaurant servers really make minimum wage? Which restaurant employees are bringing home the bacon? Click through for the slideshow of highest paying restaurant jobs. (Hint: If you can't get behind the bar, start at the deli counter.)
5. Barry Estabrook exposes Florida's industrial tomato industry in his new book, Tomatoland. Read an excerpt at GiltTaste.
6. Pineapples or raisins? Vinegar instead of mayo? And why do home cooks get so fired up over celery seed? Eatocracy asks the hard-hitting coleslaw questions.
Thursday, June 16
We'll be enjoying plates of smothered goodness from a few of these establishments as part of our upcoming field trip to Cajun Country. For those of you not joining us on the field trip, make sure to pay a visit to the lunch houses of Acadiana the next time you find yourself in south-central Louisiana.
Wednesday, June 15
Tuesday, June 14
Last weekend, Kate Petty of Broadcastr and Amy Evans Streeter of the SFA collected bbq stories at the 9th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party in NYC. They gathered 200+ stories from festival goers, SFA members and participating pitmasters. Check them out by visiting broadcstr.com and searching for "BigAppleBBQ". Share your own bbq story while you're there!
Monday, June 13
This new book from Christine Sismondo may sport the best title of any academic work published to date.
Know of a better one?
We've ordered a copy for SFA HQ.
Soon, we'll now how it stacks up against some of our favorite booze books, including Imbibe! by David Wondrich, and The Last Fine Time, Verlyn Klinkenborg's loving homage to George and Eddie's, a working class bar in Buffalo, NY, that any citizen of New Orleans would claim as his own.
For now we're just reveling in the genius of that title.
Friday, June 10
* * *
Thursday, June 9
Wednesday, June 8
Tuesday, June 7
As part of our recent oral history workshop, participants were asked to create blog posts--short pieces in response to any part of of their time spent in Oxford. We will be featuring their submissions here every day this week.
* * *
The best thing about this workshop was that we got out into the field and worked. Instead of just talking about how to do documentary fieldwork, Amy took the whole gang out into the field and showed us what documentary fieldwork is all about.
I've lived in Oxford for a year and never made it to the Farmers' Market, so I was thrilled to go and meet Liz and see what's happening at a really great place in Oxford. Hearing Amy interview Liz emphasized to me the importance of letting an interview flow naturally, even if there are distractions in the vicinity. Also, watching and helping Amy use the software to make the audio slideshow was crucial, since I will be making audio slideshows myself this summer as an intern.
Southern Studies, University of Mississippi - Oxford, MS
Monday, June 6
As part of our recent oral history workshop, participants were asked to create blog posts--short pieces in response to any part of their time spent in Oxford. We will be featuring their submissions here over the course of the next few weeks.
* * *
I learned a great many things in my (short) time at the SFA, not least of which is that bacon jam is actually as good as it sounds. But I think my favorite aspect of the oral history workshop was being reminded, in the classroom and out of it, the importance of being connected to your surroundings. When practiced in your backyard (in this case, the South as a whole), oral history can't help but make you more aware of the networks of people and stories that exist in every town, city, state, or region.
Living in the city, it's easy, sometimes, to forget how these networks support and animate community. In close quarters with close to a million people, there are so many things happening at any given moment that trends seem to take on lives and inertia of their own.
After absorbing as many stories from the SFA as I possibly could in a week, and spending as much time as I could wandering the streets of Oxford, I feel more ready than ever to begin to do my part in shining the spotlight on the people behind the food.
Also, I felt and odd "close encounters of the third kind" pull to the Oxford water tower the entire time I was in town, which resulted in probably a dozen pictures of it. The one here was taken from the porch at Main Squeeze on University.
American Studies, University of Texas - Austin, TX
Friday, June 3
As part of last week's oral history workshop, participants were asked to create blog posts--short pieces in response to any part of their time spent in Oxford. We will be view featuring their submissions here over the course of the next few weeks.
* * *
The Oral History Workshop reminded me why collecting people's stories is central to understanding a subject. Before the interview [with Liz Stagg at The Farmers' Market], we brainstormed questions. From our conversation, it was clear we had preconceived ideas about the Farmers' Market--particularly how it fit into popular and politicized discourses of local food movements.
The interview itself brought brought to the fore how important details are. Liz Stagg's answer to why they sell locally grown and produced veggies, milk, and meat was more practically and socially nuanced than the idealized, ethically-driven narrative of local food movements. Her essential message was: We talk to customers and producers, and we listen.
Learning to listen was central to what Amy taught us during the workshop as well. Amy's interview with Liz interrupts and expands popular narratives of local food, attesting to the importance of the SFA's oral history work. For me, it provides an important model for conducting my own work on the stories people tell about food.
Liberal Arts, Emory - Atlanta, GA