Monday, March 4

Penny De Los Santos: A Whirlwind Trip through the South

Food and travel photographer Penny De Los Santos blogs for us about her sources of inspiration, her travels, and her favorite bites and sips along the way. 

A few weeks ago, I was dispatched on a magazine assignment through the Southland: spend 7 days traveling though the South with a beloved, well-known New York chef. The plan was that we'd start in Birmingham and drive north through the region. 

I can't give you too many details, as the article will appear in the May issue of Bon Appetit (I hope!). Honestly, I never know exactly what will run or if it will even make it in, but I thought I'd start my first entry for SFA showing you a few photographs from that assignment.

I boarded a 6am flight to Birmingham on a Monday morning, and I didn't sleep for a week. The South, filled with its incredible food traditions and the culture that surrounds them is incredible. Within the first hour of landing I found myself in one of the most famous meat and 3 cafeterias in South. I was immediately gobsmacked at the legacy these dinning cafeterias have left and just how alive these places still are. That first stop pretty much set the pace for the entire assignment. It was all very shocking, overwhelming, beautiful, and inspiriting.

As a visual storyteller, assignments like this one are what make me love my job no matter how tired I am at the end of it. 

All photos by Penny De Los Santos
Up at the crack of dawn, racing to catch my flight to Birmingham, Alabama.

 Our first stop on the assignment: one of the most famous meat-and-threes in the South.

The writer and I were overwhelmed by the choices in the cafeteria-style line, so we ended up with a meat and 10.

We woke up at 4:30 one morning to drive to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. This sweet note, which one of our hosts left by the coffee pot, made the early morning a little easier.

Soldiers are welcomed home at the Charlottesville, VA, airport.

Buying important souvenirs for friends. You can't find pork rinds in New York City!
I returned home to SoHo at 3 am, to a street full of snow.