Friday, April 27

Southern Six-Pack

It's Double Decker Festival weekend here in Oxford, Mississippi which means enjoying a six-pack will stand as breakfast for some. For those of you a year or two (decades) past your twenties, it's okay to sip slowly.  And, in the evening.

1.  Wendell Berry is enjoying a pretty good week.  Last Monday, he gave the 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities where he was introduced by fellow Kick-ass Kentuckian, Bobbie Ann Mason.  And, this week The New York Times sent Berry a love letter. Mark Bittman, who penned that letter for the paper's on-line Opinionator column, held back a little bit of affection for himself.  In what may win the prize for Best Humblebrag not Found on Twitter, Bittman shares that he spent "hours" with Berry (an experience many thinking folks covet) and that he asked a question so profound Berry had to call him after the interview to pay proper homage to the question (pretty much the wet dream of every journalist).  Nicely done, Bittman.  Nicely done.

2.  The Man Who Mistook His Girlfriend for a Hog.  Flowers and candy aren't going to fix this.

3.  But an oyster loaf might.  Which is why, San Francisco, even if you did invent the oyster loaf, it's not yours anymore.  You didn't take care of it.  You didn't do enough with it.  It's happier in New Orleans.  It belongs there.

4.  According to an incredibly depressing study conducted by North Carolina State PhD candidate, Sarah Rusche, and published in The Journal of Black Studies, restaurant racism is alive and well.  How depressing?  Only 10.5% of the 200 restaurant workers surveyed, reported never engaging in or observing racialized discourse.

5.  Can't afford to travel this summer?  Stay home and eat bacon.  Seriously, as much as you want.  Trust us, you can afford it.

6.  Check out The Illusion of Choice.  But be warned.  It's addictive.  And disheartening.  Deciding between a six-pack of Slim Fast or a pint of Ben and Jerry's?  Unilever doesn't care.  They get paid either way.  Ever ponder which food giant is represented by the most old white men?  Pepsico, of course.  They claim the Quaker Oats Man, Colonel Sanders, and Captain Crunch as totems.

And a chaser...  This really doesn't have anything to do with food.  But it does have to do with an age old Southern admonishment: "Act right!"  This is the one where drunken sailors explain how to act right to the United States Secret Service.

Thursday, April 26

June Course to Bridge Foodways Scholarship and Public Policy, Examining Social Inequality in Mississippi

The Southern Foodways Alliance will collaborate with the University of Mississippi Department of Public Policy Leadership (PPL) to offer a June 2012 course entitled “Bringing Food to the People: Food Policy and Social Inequities in Mississippi.”  The course will be led by Dr. Jill Cooley, Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at the SFA, and and Dr. Jody Holland, Visiting Assistant Professor of PPL.

The University of Mississippi is a leader in the development of foodways studies as a scholarly discipline, and the UM Public Policy Leadership program is well-known for producing highly-effective communicators well-versed in policy-making from the local to the global.  “With teachers from two complementary departments and a compelling syllabus, the class will, we think, prove a great primer on the interdisciplinary approaches that can be applied to the field,” says John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.  

Dr. Cooley notes that interdisciplinary, team-taught courses provide a unique opportunity for students—“from these different perspectives of history and policy, we will consider how the nation’s food policy developed historically and how public policy continues to influence American diets.”

The course will include seminar and practicum components. Cooley and Holland have posed the question of how government policies have shaped the socio-economic and political realities of North Mississippi.  Studies of the intersection of race, class, and gender in twentieth-century southern history will provide context for understanding historic and contemporary federal policy efforts to ameliorate hunger and poverty. 

For the practicum component of the course, students will examine area farmers’ markets to gauge the effectiveness of current efforts to revitalize the area by making local, fresh, healthy foods accessible to economically-disadvantaged populations. Holland notes that “The U. S. Department of Agriculture estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 farmers currently sell at farmers’ markets. This number represents a growth spurt in farmers’ markets, which emphasize small and mid-scale farming operations. This course will explore the impacts and policy due to emerging local food economy.” 

The course listing is at the graduate level, SST/PPL 598, but advanced undergraduates are encouraged to enroll.  UM will offer the course during the First Summer Term, starting June 1 and ending June 27, with final exams following on June 28-29.  Thanks to funding from the Chisolm Foundation, the CSSC and the SFA will offer additional foodways classes in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013. To enroll in SST/PPL 598, students should visit the website of the Office of the Registrar for more information.

* * *

In fall 2011, the SFA received funding from the Chisholm Foundation to fund the post-doctoral position until 2014, guaranteeing more new class options for students.

Wednesday, April 25

Southern Food Writing Conference, May 17 & 18


The Inaugural Southern Food Writing Conference takes place in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 17 & 18, 2012, as nearly 20 Southern food-writing icons come together to discuss what makes our food and culture worth writing about.  

Register at to hear from friends like New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Brett Anderson, Southern Food author & journalist John Egerton, best-selling Southern cookbook authors Nathalie Dupree, Cynthia Graubart, Fred Sauceman, Elizabeth Sims, Barbara Swell, Sheri Castle, FoodBlogSouth co-founders Jason Horn and Shaun Chavis, and so many more.

And because no Southern get-together is complete without good food and perhaps a cocktail, your registration entitles you to a spot at the dinner table at legendary Blackberry Farm in nearby Walland, TN.

For more information, log on to  

Tuesday, April 24

Green Leaf Learning Farm - Memphis, TN

Yesterday, SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter spent the afternoon at Green Leaf Learning Farm, an urban agricultural program that is a project of Knowledge Quest, a children's educational non-profit in Memphis, Tennessee.

Christian Man, project coordinator for Green Leaf, contacted Amy about initiating an oral history project to collect stories from the neighborhood and document the community garden.

We look forward collaborating with the good people at Green Leaf to collect the stories behind the food.

Visit Knowledge Quest's website for more information on the organization and its programs.

Friday, April 20

Southern Six-Pack

1.  American Bandstand premiered in 1957 when my mother (who turned 70 this year) was a junior in high school.  To ring in 2012, my 6th grade and 8th grade sons watched ABC's Rockin' New Year's Eve.  In between, Dick Clark went from being hip to old to ironically hip again.  Comparing rock 'n roll to Mexican food Clark said, "Start them out with the mild stuff first and once they get a taste for it they'll jump in for the really hot stuff, the authentic stuff." We like that analogy.  We'll miss you Dick Clark.  For a lot of reasons.

2.  Robbie Robertson might have written The Weight about the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania but when Levon Helm sang that song, what you heard was Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.  Helm lived a celebrated life in an industry not known for longevity or integrity.  He managed to have both.  And a whole lot more.

3.  While we're knee deep in eulogies, the Louisiana Seafood Industry would like it known that the reports of the death and safety of gulf seafood have been greatly exaggerated!

4.  Alabama has a golden opportunity to fix its hateful regressive immigration law.  Don't drop the ball, Alabama.  Whoops.  Too soon?

5.  Want to reclaim urban food deserts?  Take to the streets.  Green Carts might be the most innovative element in the food desert shelterbelt.

6.  Ever wonder what a 22 year old box of cereal might taste like?  Curiosity won't kill you but it will leave a nasty plastic after-taste.

Thursday, April 19

Thank You, Nashville, for A Great Stir the Pot!

Nashville turned it out for the first-ever Stir the Pot event outside of Raleigh. Tandy Wilson of City House and Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille invited the original pot-stirrer, Ashley Christiansen of Poole's Diner, to be the guest chef. Sunday night, the crowd enjoyed a wonderful supper at City House from Ashley. On Monday night, the Nashville community arrived to Yazoo Brewery, covered dishes in hand, for the Stir the Pot Potluck. Plates were piled high with greens, foot cheese sandwiches, and homemade mac and cheese; glasses overflowed with Yazoo beer; and ears were filled with the rockin' sounds of Roman Candle. 

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the SFA!

The next Stir the Pot event will be held back in Raleigh, May 27-28. Check the Stir the Pot website for more information.

Friday, April 13

Southern Six-Pack

Across the South, the promise of spring football is as high as the pollen count.  What goes great with football?  A six-pack of course.  Arkansas, I'm guessing you may need something a little stronger.  Help yourself. 

1.  Celebrate today, the 103rd anniversary of Eudora Welty's birth, with potato salad.  Ms. Welty would approve.

2.  We're a month away from the 50th anniversary of the very first restaurant review Mississippi native, Craig Claiborne wrote for the New York Times.  Claiborne didn't just change the way America eats, he changed the way we think about food.  Get this golden anniversary party started with Georgeanna Milam Chapman's master's thesis on Claiborne.  Then go crazy and pre-order a copy of Thomas McNamee's Claiborne biography.  And, if you're serious about this celebration then you might as well whip up a batch of chicken spaghetti.

3. Things to do while in New Orleans:  go to Cafe du Monde for a beignet, stop at Mahony's for a po-boy, or sip a Sazerac at the Napoleon House.  Things to avoid:  Subway and Mardi Gras Zone.

4.   Check out Louisiana's House Concurrent Resolution Number 41 which designates Scott, Louisiana as the Boudin Capitol of the World.  It's your move, Mowata.

5.  Our friends at Gilt Taste got some well deserved love from the IACP for their Eat Shoots and Leaves series.

6.  Nearly one year after a tornado destroyed their building, Earp's Seafood in Raleigh, North Carolina is once again open for business.

In Kentucky, our common table is a basketball court.  On April 2, 2012 the Kentucky Wildcats brought their 8th NCAA National Championship Trophy home to Lexington.  This week UK Coach John Calipari took that trophy on a bus tour of the state.  In Hazard, this man came out to meet the coach, view the trophy, and show off his "special for basketball season" prosthetic leg.  I love my state!

More BBQ! Announcing the North Carolina Leg of our Southern BBQ Trail

The Southern BBQ Trail documents the history, tradition, and culture of barbecue across our region. We are pleased to announce the addition of new oral histories that help to tell the story of barbecue in North Carolina.

Visit the North Carolina leg of the Trail to learn more about iconic barbecue joints like Skylight Inn and Parker's, as well as some lesser-known halls of smoke and sauce.

Many thanks to Rein Fertel and Denny Culbert for helping us collect the stories behind the food and to John Shelton Reed for his fine introduction to the long history of North Carolina 'cue.

Grab a napkin and go!

Thursday, April 12

Announcing the Arkansas Leg of Our Southern BBQ Trail

The Southern BBQ Trail documents the history, tradition, and culture of barbecue across our region. We are pleased to announce the addition of new oral histories that help to tell the story of barbecue in Arkansas.

Visit the Arkansas leg of the Trail to learn more about iconic barbecue joints like Craig's and McClard's, as well as some lesser-known halls of smoke and sauce.

Many thanks to SFA oral history intern Rachel Reynolds Luster for helping us collect the stories behind the food and to Rex Nelson for his fine introduction to the curious history of Arkansas 'cue.

Grab a napkin and go!

Wednesday, April 11

New Exhibit in Birmingham, AL, Explores Impact of Greek Immigrants on City's Culture and Cuisine

Last week, Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, opened a new exhibit, Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham's Culture and Cuisine.

SFA oral histories from our Birmingham Greeks project are referenced throughout the exhibit.

From the Vulcan website:
Birmingham’s Greek community has shaped the city for over a hundred years. Greek immigrants and their descendants have contributed to a range of endeavors, from law to medicine to education, but it is perhaps their impact on the city’s vibrant restaurant scene that is most celebrated. 
The first in Vulcan Park and Museum’s series of exhibitions on local cultural groups, Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham’s Culture and Cuisine explores how Greek immigrants have transformed the way people live – and eat – in the Magic City.
 Beyond Barbecue and Baklava is on view through August 3, 2012.

Wednesday, April 4

SFA Receives Two "New Media" Awards from IACP

On Monday, April 2, the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) announced the winners of its 34th Annual IACP Awards at a gala event in New York City. SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter attended the ceremony, where she accepted two awards on behalf of the SFA:
Audio Series (Short Format) in recognition of the short audio clips that accompany each oral history interview in our online archive.
Intriguing Use of New Technology in recognition of our new--and free!---iPhone app, SFA Stories, which features all of the oral histories from our archive.
Many thanks to the IACP, its members, and the judges for recognizing our work.

Visit the IACP website for a complete list of 2012 award winners.

Tuesday, April 3

Bring on Brunch

Picture courtesy of The Communal Skillet

Our friends at The Communal Skillet are lucky enough to have chickens popping out eggs faster than they can eat (this time of year at least). Perfect opportunity to flip to the index of the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook to find egg recipes. This week, they find an eggy, cheesy, gooey dish, the ideal beginnings of a weekend brunch.

And in case you haven't checked, the SFA Community Cookbook also has five different recipes for biscuits. Get your bloody mary ready, it's brunch time.

Now, to procure some pet chickens...