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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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


Urban farming roots community after BP spill
October 14th, 2013
10:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: Next year, the Southern Foodways Alliance will explore inclusion and exclusion at the Southern table in 2014. This theme is two-fold. It marks the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Southern restaurants. It also challenges us to take an honest look at ourselves today - for the sake of tomorrow. Who is included? Who is excluded? For the Southern table, what are the implications of obesity? Class, nationality, and sexuality? These are critical issues to ponder. Sustainable South hopes to draw your attention to agricultural groups tackling inclusion and exclusion from the field. Today's contributor is Emilie Dayan, a SFA project manager who blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.

The VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative challenges head-on problems of inclusion and exclusion in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cooperative, established following the effects of the BP oil spill on the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East, aims to provide the highest quality local produce and seafood to Crescent City and beyond.

The story of this community goes back to 1975 when, after the fall of Saigon, the Archdiocese of New Orleans invited many of the Christian Vietnamese who supported the U.S.-allied government to seek asylum in Louisiana. There, the Vietnamese found a familiar climate and jobs as fishermen, a trade many had practiced in Vietnam.
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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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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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