Food says so much about where you’ve come from, where you’ve decided to go, and the lessons you’ve learned. It’s geography, politics, tradition, belief and so much more and this week, we invite you to dig in and discover the rich, ever-evolving taste of America in 2011. The week will culminate with a Secret Supper in New York City, and Eatocracy invites you to participate online starting Monday July 11th at 6:30 p.m. E.T.
Douglas Jones works at CNN International
We were at a lake in east Tennessee on U.S. Independence Day weekend when someone’s grandfather brought out three glass jars and started passing around the flavored moonshine. In these parts, it wasn’t a surprise.
We had just returned to camp and already the barbecue grills were sizzling. The coolers were open and you could hear that crisp rush of ice falling as hands pulled out more cold beers.
We were three Americans from CNN who went to Tennessee to show a group of international journalists a bit of Americana on the most American time of the year: 4th of July weekend.
Fresh out of the lake water and still drying off, our group was exhausted after a trip on the Tennessee River catching catfish with our hands. It’s a practice called catfish “noodling” or “grabbling”.
As the burgers and chicken wings cooked on the grill, grandmothers appeared with banana pudding and coconut pies. Before we knew it there were tables full of food. Then an older gentleman brought out the moonshine.
Immediately a circle formed around the clear liquid in glass jars. There were three flavors: watermelon, peach and “original”. Each brave soul made a child-like cringe and giggled a little as they took a sip. It was all about sharing and the group watched, to see if you could handle the tough stuff. The men explained how it was made and how it was a part of the culture in Tennessee.
We had some laughs and sat back down with plates of fried, grilled and baked southern goodness. Everyone told stories about where they were from and the group of journalists from all over the world told the southerners about different idiosyncrasies in their countries. It was a great experience to take something so American and share it with a group that was so international.
The experience reminded me of something I’ve known for a while. Food brings people together, no matter who they are. Food reminds us all that we all share many ideas about friendship and family.
It was an appropriate way to celebrate the birthday of the melting pot of cultures that is the U.S.
Read more about catfish noodling on CNNI Back|Story
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