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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August 15th, 2013
11:50 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. Sarah Baird is a writer, editor, and petit four aficionado living in New Orleans, Louisiana, whose book on the culture of Kentucky sweets will be published in January 2014. Follow her on Twitter @scbaird.

Song:Homegrown Tomatoes
Album: Better Days (1983)
Artist: Guy Clark

Without fail, every garden has a super-powered plant that grows just a little too well. One day, the ground is dappled with a sprinkling of tiny white flowers and vines, then almost overnight the garden bed has erupted into an avalanche of cucumbers or squash. No matter how much you might love a Benedictine tea sandwich or a hearty slice of zucchini bread, there’s only so much gourd one person can eat before it becomes, well, a little monotonous. Pretty soon, neighbors are crossing the street to avoid your “generous” offers of produce and the thought of setting up a tiny roadside squash stand starts to make a lot of sense.

The only exception to this rule? The almighty tomato. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who could ever tire of letting its juices dribble down his or her chin. In Guy Clark’s 1983 song “Homegrown Tomatoes,” the country music legend pays homage to this ruby red giant of summertime dining, exploring his deep admiration for the fruit with a twinkle in his eye and chuckle in his verses.
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August 13th, 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 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, it’s all about okra.

Ok, I know, I know. Stop. You either love okra or you absolutely hate it, and you’ve already decided to click away. Stay. Please, please stay. I’ve got this, really, I do. Okra is the new asparagus. Seriously. I’m certain of it.
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August 6th, 2013
10:30 AM ET
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August 22 is National Eat a Peach Day, so we're sharing this luscious ode again.

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.

I grew up smack in the middle of peach country in South Georgia. When I was in high school, my school breaks were dictated by the picking season, as many of my classmates were the sons and daughters of farmers.

You have never been hot until you’ve been peach-picking in the middle of a Georgia summer. Rumor has it that hell is cooler. The air is thick and stifling. Gnats and mosquitoes buzz about incessantly. Peach fuzz covers your arms and wrists. The combination is an effective formula for guaranteed misery. But in the end, after turning those bushels of perfectly ripe fruit into jelly, each amber spoonful is more precious than gold.
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July 29th, 2013
04:30 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, 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, I’m spilling the beans - and the peas.

Though their origins are different, I’ve paired field peas and butter beans together for this post because they ripen at about the same time in an incredibly short season, and they are similar in their luscious texture and taste.

My family always planted a large garden near the house and often kept another plot in the black, fertile soil down by the river. Among the many, many vegetables my grandfather planted were black-eyed peas and butter beans. In the summer, we’d sit on the porch shelling the black-eyed peas that Dede had picked that morning. The purple hulls dyed our fingers a smoky violet. He’d also bring up bushel baskets of pale green butter beans, which were my favorite. I dearly love fresh peas, but without question, my absolute favorite summer vegetables are butter beans. Oh my. There is simply nothing like them.
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July 24th, 2013
02:00 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, 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.

Fresh tomatoes are only ever good in summer. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, almost wine-like flavor of a vine ripe tomato—just as there is nothing as disappointing as the dull, insipid, lifeless flavor of a cold storage tomato shipped from halfway around the world. I don’t eat those and strongly suggest that you don’t, either. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible.
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Dining on feral swine
July 22nd, 2013
02:00 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 Abigail Greenbaum received her MFA at the University of Mississippi and now teaches English and writing at Berry College in Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @AbigailGreenb.

People from Atlanta call Tommy Haskins several times a week, begging him to sell them feral hog. “It isn’t legal to sell the hogs we hunt,” he tells them. “But you can come down to Twiggs County and shoot one.” In order to sell meat to the general public in Georgia, the animal must arrive alive at an approved processing facility, and be inspected prior to slaughter.

Feral swine eat a low-fat diet. Most are too lean to use for making bacon, even the 160-pound hogs that Haskins and his clients bring down. Folks searching for feral hog are often immigrants from Vietnam, where lean pork is wrapped with banana leaves in a dish called gio lua.

Local food advocates also clamor for field-shot pork. Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, written by the Texas hunter and chef Jesse Griffiths, includes recipes for smothered wild boar chops with anise brine and wild boar rillettes. Haskins doesn’t bother with anise brine. He prefers hickory-smoked hams, basted with apple juice.

On his property southeast of Macon, Haskins rarely goes a day without glimpsing hogs, which he calls “piney woods rooters.” These hogs have mixed pedigrees. Some may have descended from Spanish swine introduced in the 1500s. Others are released or escaped domestic pigs that bred with Eurasian wild boars that were imported for hunting.
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Summer foods: Homemade ice cream
July 19th, 2013
01:15 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 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.

As guest blogger for the SFA, I’ve decided to explore a collection of iconic Summer Foods of the South. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy. This Sunday, conveniently enough, is National Ice Cream Day.

Ice cream has a magical quality. One lick of an ice cream cone instantly brings back memories of childhood. Remember when all of life’s happiness seemed to rest solely upon the questions “one scoop or two?” and “plain or sugar cone?” Remember the painful ache of a paralyzing brain freeze because you’d eaten your ice cream too fast? How about listening to the rhythmic surge of the ice cream maker while impatiently waiting on the screened-in porch for an adult to pronounce that it was ready?

Ice cream has long mesmerized those requiring refreshment on a blistering hot summer day. There are some foods that have a powerful connection to summer seemingly on a genetic level, and ice cream is one of them.
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Summer foods: Crazy for corn
July 17th, 2013
01:00 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, 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.

We kicked off the series with homemade ice cream. Coming up, I’ll feature tomatoes, squash, peas & beans, okra, peaches, and finish up right before Labor Day with a barbecued Boston butt. This week, we’re going crazy for corn!

Corn is not only an iconic Southern food; it’s All-American. Granted, as a country, we have perhaps become overly dependent on corn. But instead of the unpleasantries of industrial agriculture, let’s focus on buttery juices dribbling down your wrists, old-fashioned miniature plastic corn forks jauntily stabbed into the ends of the cob, and bacon fat melting in the cast-iron skillet, ready to receive freshly cut, milky kernels for creamed corn.
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