Eudora Welty and William Maxwell: food, friendship and letters
February 18th, 2014
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Here’s a tidbit from the latest issue of Gravy quarterly. The author of this piece, Michael Oates Palmer, is a Los Angeles–based television writer whose credits include The West Wing, Army Wives, and Rubicon. Painting by Hayley Gaberlavage.

"What would I have done if you hadn’t first made that time out of thin air and that dinner & the talk & and the music out of your heads, like a story (because everything had been packed up, I could see it) and I hadn’t had that evening at your house? It was so lovely. It came & afterwards vanished like the soufflé we had, & was just as real, though, and so pleasurable & getting better every minute, like all good visits snatched from the jaws of time..." - Eudora Welty, letter to William and Emily Maxwell, June 10, 1970

She lived almost her entire life in Jackson, Mississippi. He left his home state of Illinois as soon as he could, splitting his time between New York City and its suburbs.

Through five novels, three works of nonfiction, a children’s book, and—perhaps most importantly—dozens of short stories, Eudora Welty cemented her status as the South’s most prominent literary export since William Faulkner.

As fiction editor of The New Yorker for over forty years, William Maxwell played confidant and counsel to a pantheon that included J.D. Salinger and John Updike. His own writing career produced six acclaimed novels, two works of nonfiction, and several volumes of short stories.

Theirs was a journey spanning more than half the twentieth century, one in which their relationship grew from that of writer and editor, to good friends, to, by the time they were both near ninety, surrogate siblings.

Separated by over a thousand miles, the intimate friendship of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell would have been impossible were it not for a correspondence that invited each other not just into their literary work, but into their day-to-day lives.
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Filed under: Books • Southern • Southern Foodways Alliance • Think


Edna Lewis and Judith Jones at the American table
February 10th, 2014
05:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Here’s a tidbit from the latest issue of Gravy quarterly. The author of this piece, Sara B. Franklin, is a doctoral student, food writer and educator. She is currently working on an oral history project with editor Judith Jones, exploring food and memory.

Today, “local” is such a culinary buzzword that it’s almost passé. Good chefs interpret the places from which they hail, and nowhere has this revival of place been stronger than in the American South. In a cultural moment like this, we forget it wasn’t long ago that much of America was ignorant, if not downright ashamed, of its regional cuisines. Judith Jones, a longtime editor at Knopf in New York City, who retired last year at age eighty-eight, helped introduce American palates to international cuisines and elevate domestic regional foodways. Her interest in regional cookery was piqued by Edna Lewis, the Virginia-born chef and writer.

Jones was still a wet-behind-the-ears junior editor at Knopf when she shepherded Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking through publication in 1961. At the time, postwar prosperity brought boxed cake mixes and frozen vegetables to supermarkets, promising quick and easy paths to domestic bliss. Child and Jones weren’t fooled. Really good food, they knew, demanded an attentive and skillful cook, one who wasn’t afraid of having a bit of fun.
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5@5 - More Southern dishes that deserve a comeback
November 13th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

A while back, chef John Currence stopped by Eatocracy to share his list of five Southern dishes that deserve a comeback. Thing is, when a cuisine's bench is that wide and that deep, there are plenty more options to be put into play.

Levon Wallace is the Executive Chef at Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky. While he was Born in East Los Angeles, as his Twitter bio declares, "My heart belongs to the South."

This devotion extends to the region's dishes.

"These recipes are classics: they're the people's recipes," Wallace says. "Southern food as a whole is the people's food, really basic, satisfying stuff. There is no reason why these recipes shouldn't be something we're doing all the time. They're not some big, crazy, complicated undertaking with hundreds of ingredients; they're classics, with little updates to really up the ante on your Southern food game."

Lay 'em on us, Levon.

Five more Southern dishes that deserve a comeback: Levon Wallace
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Filed under: 5@5 • Make • Recipes • Southern • Tailgating • Think


November 4th, 2013
02:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's installment comes courtesy of Amy Evans, oral historian and Eatocracy crush.

Earlier this morning, Dexter Weaver announced on his Facebook page that his namesake restaurant will close its doors at the end of this month:

"Weaver D’s Fine Foods is announcing that we will be closing the restaurant for good 2-3 weeks from today. The restaurant is for sale along with it’s contents. Come and get your last eat-on here at Weaver D’s, where our food has made us world famous for the last 27 1/2 years! Automatic, Dexter Weaver!"
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Chicken skins are the new pork rinds. Discuss.
October 24th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's installment comes courtesy of Sara Camp Arnold, the editor of SFA's quarterly publication, "Gravy."

We’ve noticed chicken skins popping up on menus across the South lately, threatening to eclipse their porcine cousins (by which we mean pork skins, aka chicharrones, aka pork rinds).

One of the chefs leading the chicken-skin charge is Matt Kelly of Mateo Tapas and Vin Rouge in Durham, North Carolina.* Back in June, he masterminded a collard salad with chicken-skin “chicharrones” for our New York Potlikker. Matt kindly shared his recipe with us, so that you can recreate this funky riff on Tar Heel favorites (note the collard greens, peanuts, and barbecue sauce–inspired dressing) at home.
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Filed under: Make • Recipes • Southern • Southern Foodways Alliance • Tailgating


Dessert debate: cake vs pie
October 14th, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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March 14 (3/14) is Pi(e) Day, so we're rolling this out again.

Each autumn, some of the world's most prominent food scholars, chefs, journalists and enthusiasts gather together on the campus of the University of Mississippi for a symposium on the state of Southern food. Overarching themes covered by the Southern Foodways Alliance in the previous 15 years have included the role of farmers, a study of global influences, the undercurrents of music and booze, just to name a few. The subject at the core of 2013's installment: Women at Work.

For two days, featured presenters and honorees like Diane Roberts, Vertamae Grosvenor, Emily Wallace, Candacy Taylor, Charlotte Druckman, among many others, spoke eloquently and enthusiastically of the essential roles that women have played in the creation of Southern food culture past and present.

Then it was time for dessert. Eatocracy's managing editor Kat Kinsman and New York Times Atlanta bureau chief Kim Severson faced off in a tongue-in-cheek Lincoln-Douglas debate. The topic at hand: which holds more essential social and emotional currency in the South, pie or cake?

Kinsman defended the pro-pie position, and Severson took the side of cake. They tied, by an assessment of audience applause, but here in the spirit of National Dessert Day, we're serving up slices of both their arguments. Dig in.
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Flipping out over boozy buttermilk
September 5th, 2013
02:30 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Lindsey Kate Reynolds, is a native Texan beginning her M.A. in Southern Studies. She blogs about cocktails at TheGoodetimeGals.com and Tweets @LindseyKateR.

Nog, flip, fizz, grog, shrub, smash.

Besides being vaguely onomatopoeic terms, these are all old-school drinks that used to be quite common in bars more than one hundred years ago. Fallen out of fashion due to the vodka craze of the Cold War cocktail days, today’s spirits renaissance is bringing them back to life with a vengeance.

Though you might not always want to use a dozen eggs and shake drinks for a combined thirty minutes when entertaining, sometimes a special occasion calls for a more luxurious cocktail. Enter the flip.
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August 27th, 2013
07:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.

In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I'm examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

This week, I’m finishing up with a recipe for a barbecued pork butt, sharing a bit of history and a practical recipe for those who want to go low and slow, but don’t have the time or patience for a professional Memphis-in-May competition pace.
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August 20th, 2013
07:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.

In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I am examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

This week is all about summer squash.

A long, hot summer with just the right amount of rain is bound to create a situation of disastrous consequences: way too much summer squash in the garden. Zucchini and yellow squash are prolific. You and your family can eat it every night. You can leave bags at the front doors of all your neighbors. You can give it away to strangers. But the plants relentlessly continue to produce more and more. At a certain point in midsummer, you will notice your neighbors crossing to the other side of the street when they see you, and the postman conspicuously looking the other way as he deposits your mail, worrying you might try to foist more summer squash upon them.
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