Tuesday, July 31

2012 Southern Foodways Symposium Details

James Willis.  Image courtesy of SFA Founder Al Clayton.

Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmasters, 
Places, Smoke, and Sauce

Southern Foodways Symposium: October 19-21, 2012
Delta Divertissement: October 18-19, 2012

Click here for more details. 
Tickets go on sale to SFA members August 1.
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The fifteenth Southern Foodways Symposium will be held October 19–21, 2012, in and around the town of Oxford and on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

The Delta Divertissement, now in its tenth year, will take place October 18–19 in nearby Greenwood and Cleveland.

Both events will explore the culture of barbecue.

Ten years back, the SFA staged its first barbecue-focused symposium. (James Willis, whose portrait tops this page, won that year’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award.) In the intervening decade, we’ve learned a lot. And we’re ready to share that knowledge.

It’s still true that much dialogue about barbecue focuses on tradition and intransigence. Yet barbecue, like all products of culture, is not static. It evolves. And so do we. In that spirit, the SFA staff has dedicated 2012 to revisiting the subject, adding new oral histories and films to our archive, while immersing ourselves in continuing barbecue education.

Barbecue speaks to the past, present, and future of the South. Stories of pitmasters—of the places they work, the smoke they conjure, the sauces they stir—evoke larger-picture American narratives of race, class, gender, labor, power, and community.

This year we booked speakers who look at barbecue through lenses that include animal husbandry, workers’ rights, cultural geography, literature, food science, and identity politics.

Eaters at this year’s Southern Foodways Symposium will get schooled in Southern barbecue traditions. From Brunswick stew to banana pudding, we’ll hit the high notes, while traveling from Texas to the Carolinas and from Mexico to Memphis.

The pig will get its due. But so will other beasts. Join us as we revel in smoke-perfumed oysters, cows, fish, and fowl.

And yes, just in case you’re wondering—we will serve vegetables.

Adventurous drinkers will tipple Tennessee whiskey from a new-guard distiller, sip California rosé vinified to complement wood smoke, and slake their thirst with Arkansas-sourced sparkling water.  

Artistic expressions of food culture continue to enthrall your SFA programming team. This year, we’ve commissioned a puppet theater homage to pitmasters, with live orchestral accompaniment.

These events provide opportunities for thinkers, writers, cooks, and eaters to come to a better understanding of American regional culinary culture. Lectures and performances, staged on the University of Mississippi campus, and at locations around the city of Oxford, will be amplified by informal breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.