Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. We'll be sharing dispatches live from their 15th annual Symposium "Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce" in Oxford, Mississippi, over the next few days. Dig in.
This year's Saturday Viking Range Luncheon was prepared by chef Ashley Christensen of Poole's Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ashley prepared a "Piedmont Root-to-Stem Harvest Feast," shaking up the weekend's theme by applying barbecue-inspired techniques to an all-vegetable meal. Of course, not everything was baptized in smoke, but the lunch did include coal-roasted sweet potatoes and beets. (Ashley picked up the coal-roasting technique on a recent trip even further south, in Uruguay, where she and the Fatback Collective schooled themselves on the asado.)
The lunch - from pimento cheese and homemade crackers to pumpkin hummingbird cake with peanut custard - was served family style, fostering the sense of a common table and opening up a space for conversation around the food.
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. We'll be sharing dispatches live from their 15th annual Symposium "Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce" in Oxford, Mississippi, over the nest few days. Dig in.
Last night's festivities kicked off with nips and nibbles. What else were you expecting from an SFA symposium?
Whitney Otawka and Ben Wheatley of Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia, served up pork meatballs with a muscadine glaze and fried quail breasts on white bread with Tabasco sauce and pickles. Both of Whitney's creations were riffs on Southern classics - come on, don't tell us you've never had meatballs in grape-jelly sauce served from a crock pot. And of course, the quail breasts look like an extremely cute version of a certain pickle-capped fried chicken sandwich... So, take those two recipes, crank the ingredients up about five notches, serve them with a wink and a nod, and you might get close to imagining how yummy these amuses-bouche were. And did we mention that Whitney and Ben have yet to turn 30?
We're off and running! We began this morning fueled by Texas brisket-and-egg breakfast tacos, a collaboration between Tim Byres of SMOKE Restaurant in Dallas and Lolo Garcia of the fabled Plantation Barbecue truck, which roams the Houston suburb of Richmond.
First, Nathalie Jordi led a panel on food politics with rancher Will Harris, restaurateur/pork aficionado Nick Pihakis and Greg Asbed of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. To be honest, politics aren't always a huge part of our narrative here at the SFA, but if we're truly going to pay attention to the stories behind the food, we need to know the often-hidden stories about who raises our animals and who picks our produce. And we need to honor their work by compensating farm workers fairly and by treating animals with dignity. Nathalie, Greg, Nick and Will brought those issues to the table, and we're grateful that they did.
The 15th Southern Foodways Symposium officially kicks off Friday at noon. But we got things started a little early with a well-balanced combination of photography, fashion, cocktails, music, literature, film and hot dogs. You know, the usual SFA ingredients. Herewith, an instruction manual on how to spend a pre-symposium Thursday evening, in case you ever find yourself in this position.
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