Thursday, December 2

SFA Seeks Sweet Advice

SFA looks to kick off a year of sweets in January 2005. We'll explore sugary goodness both during our July field trip to New Orleans and at our annual October conference in Oxford.

Each year when we study a topic, we get many requests (from members and non-members alike) for resource material on that topic. In preparation for next year's sweet tooth, we're asking SFA members to help create a bibliography on the topic. Read a good article lately? Have a favorite dessert cookbook? Please mail your suggestions (book title, author, press, and publication date) to by December 15. Once we have your suggestions, we'll tie them all together and share our book list with the membership. Thanks, in advance, for your sweet suggestions!

Thursday, November 18

SFA Member Seeks Funeral Culture Foods

Cindy Lamb is collecting recipes and researching funeral culture for a book entitled "Good Grief, Great Food: Last Suppers of the South." She hopes you can contibute a favorite family dish passed down from those who have passed on. This book was born of her father's funeral and a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Please send all contributions and proper credits to: Cindy Lamb 2841 Westminster Court, Lou., KY 40206 or Thank you!

SFA and The Kitchen Sisters on NPR

Listen to NPR's Morning Edition this Friday, November 19, to hear a segment entitled "America Eats: A Hidden Archive." The Southern Foodways Alliance contributed to this story. Hidden Kitchens is a radio program that explores the world of street-corner cooking, hidden kitchens, legendary meals and eating traditions -- how communities come together through food. Each Friday morning from Oct. 1, 2004, until the end of the year, listeners will travel the country with the Hidden Kitchens project as they visit and chronicle all kinds of American kitchen cultures, past and present.

Wednesday, November 17

SFA on CBS Sunday Morning

Look for SFA Director John T Edge on CBS Sunday Morning -- THIS Sunday, November 21. This special food edition of the show airs at 8 central (in most markets) and lasts 90 minutes. Cheers, and have a happy Thanksgiving Day.

Taste of the South -- January 6-9: SFA Benefit at Blackberry Farm

Savor the best the culinary world has to offer when seven chefs converge at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee for a Taste of the South event, benefiting the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Packed with incredible food and wine happenings, the weekend promises to stimulate the palate and relax the mind. Guests can pick up culinary tips and techniques at Blackberry's Cooking School while enjoying all the merriments of the weekend, or just savor the gala dinner on Saturday night.

Taste the bounty of the South from chefs Michelle Bernstein of Azul, Miami, FL; John Currence of City Grocery, Oxford MS; John Fleer of the Inn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN; Jim Gerhardt of Limestone, Louisville, KY; Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, AL; Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernadin, New York, NY; and Ken Vedrinski of Sienna, Charleston, SC.

And we haven't forgotten the wine. Sam Beall of Blackberry Farm has gathered some of California's most talented winemakers. In keeping with our theme, all have Southern roots -- including Knoxville native Eric Grigsby and Mary Fran Rocca of Rocca Family Vineyards in Napa, Memphis natives Dr. Michael Dragutsky and Dr. David Sloas from Cornerstone Cellars in Napa, and Virginians Jeffery Fink and Bill Cates of Tantara in Santa Barbara.

VIP Package guests will enjoy all events including the "Jack Daniel's Chef's Night Out" dinner, cooking demonstration, lunch at the Maple Cottage and preferred seating during the Auction and Gala Dinner. Sponsors of this event include Lexus, the preferred vehicle of Blackberry Farm, and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey.

To register please call (800) 557-8864. To learn more about the Blackberry Farm, log on to

Tuesday, November 9


The Southern Foodways Alliance hosted a booth at the annual Southern Historical Association in Memphis this past weekend. Our booth showcased bobbleheads and skillets, Gravy newsletters and books by members, and our newest edition of Cornbread Nation, Cornbread Nation 2: The United States of Barbecue. We were very excited to see the interest generated as Peggy Galis and Mary Beth Lasseter lured members to our booth with moonpies, and then Fred Sauceman and Ronni Lundy wowed them with great tales about SFA's work. We look forward to welcoming many new members in the coming days, supporting new oral history initiatives across the South, and discussing sugar all next year. Since our visitors were lured by moonpies, we already know that they each have a sweet tooth for our upcoming discussions!

Wednesday, October 27

Will Campbell's Symposium Remarks Online

At the 2004 Symposium, the Southern Foodways Alliance and the University of Mississippi honored Will Campbell, a noted civil rights leader, preacher, author, and activist. To see his remarks at the symposium, click on the title link for this posting. To read more about the event, go to The video presentation does require a media player for viewing, which should launch automatically when you click the link.

Tuesday, October 19

Get Southern Foodways Gear!

Everybody needs another t-shirt. And why don't you think about replacing your coffee mug in the morning? Support the SFA by buying some gear, and be on the cutting edge of food fashion! SFA has teamed up with Cafe Press to offer SFA merchandise via the web. It's easy -- logon, browse, buy, and have everything mailed to you at home. All proceeds benefit the SFA Oral History Initiative. You can find the site at Bookmark it, and think about doing a little Christmas shopping...

Thursday, October 14

SFA - eGullet Update

SFA members with an e-mail address on file should have received user names and passwords to a day or two before the Southern Foodways Symposium. Many of you have already registered and made a post or two on the boards. That’s great. The whole reason for the recent association between eGullet and The Southern Foodways Alliance is to enable members to have a forum where they can discuss a broad range of topics relating to Southern Food and related subjects. And to that end we would like to encourage all of you to take a look at the Southern Food Culture Forum ( This forum, unlike any other place on the internet, gives all of us the opportunity to discuss (in excrutiating detail in some cases) the issues that surround Southern food and the culture that interest all of us. Sign on, won't you?

SFA Symposium pictures are online!

SFA thanks Larry Smith, our official event photographer, for all the wonderful pictures he took at last weekend's Southern Foodways Symposium. Photos have been uploaded to Snapfish, a website that allows users to share and order photographs online. Simply click the title of this post (there's a link there) to be redirected to the Snapfish website. You'll need to sign up for a free account to view the photos. Once signed on, you may view and order pictures to remember the fun we had!

Rick Ellis, Deviled Egg King

Congratulations to Rick Ellis, who was named the Deviled Egg King at last weekend's Southern Foodways Symposium. Cayenne and butter are the secrets to this delicious recipe, which you may read in our online recipe book. From the SFA home page, scroll over projects and then choose the option for the deviled egg recipe contest. Rick's recipe is included in the chapter entitled "The Basics."

Wednesday, October 6

Deviled Egg Recipes are Online

Curious about deviled eggs? Need a good recipe to impress the in-laws? Hungry and ready to try something new? Entries from the 2004 SFA Deviled Egg recipe contest are now online. It's egg-citing! Check them out, and decide for yourself which eggs are best.

Extra, Extra -- Read All About It!

When you take a stroll to your corner newsstand this morning, check out the article on the Southern Foodways Alliance that's featured on the cover of the New York Times food section, page D1. You can read all about this weekend's symposium, which will explore race through the lens of foodways.

Thursday, September 23

Deviled Egg Recipe Finalists Announced

The SFA is egg-cited to announce the five finalists in this year's deviled egg/stuffed egg recipe contest: Robert Croft, Kansas City, MO; Rick Ellis, New York, NY; Elizabeth Howard, New Orleans, LA; Margaret Ann Mitchell, Jackson, MS; and Elizabeth Williams, New Orleans, LA. Egg lovers will surely enjoy stuffing themselves with these prize eggs at the SFA symposium's Deviled Egg Degustation on October 8. Stay tuned to see who SFA will crown the King/Queen of Deviled Eggs, and check our website in early October to view the online cookbook featuring all of the recipes from this year's contest. Congratulations to our finalists!

Monday, September 20

Share a ride to the Symposium!

Registrants who submitted travel plans for carpooling to the symposium should all have received an e-mail Monday afternoon with travel itineraries for other registrants. If you are interested in carpooling but did not receive this message, please e-mail to have a copy sent your way. Happy carpooling!

Friday, September 17

Southern Foodways Symposium Sold Out!

SFA is pleased to announce that our conference is sold out again this year! If you missed registration and would still like to attend, e-mail for your name to be added to our wait list. In the event of cancellations, we'll use this list to invite more guests.

Tuesday, September 7

News from the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation

The CGRF supports sustainable heirloom grain repatriation research and education and provides a resource center for the study of historic heirloom grain culture and foodways. And this coming August -- that's August 2005 -- they will host a conference on Carolina rice culture. Log on to for details.

Wednesday, August 18

Glory Foods Announces Symposium Scholarships

Glory Foods will host three guests at the seventh annual Southern Foodways Symposium, to be held October 7-10, 2004 on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Three scholarships will be awarded to African American students pursuing a college degree in the food arts, hospitality management, folk arts, or related field.

Winners will receive a complimentary pass to the conference ($380 value) and a travel and accommodations stipend of $400. Winners will also receive one-on-one consultations with African American foodways scholar Adrian Miller, former Special Assistant to President Clinton and Deputy Director of the President’s Initiative for One America. Scholarships will be awarded to the three best responses to these questions. Essays should total 250 cumulative words: How are our dining rituals imprinted by race? Why was the integration of lunch counters an early and important initiative of the Civil Rights Movement? What will you gain from a three-day conference that focuses upon food and race relations?

Send your 250-word essay along with your name, phone number, and e-mail address to the Southern Foodways Alliance by way of Questions? Call 662.915.5993. The e-mail postmark deadline for all entries is September 10. Winners will be notified by phone on September 15.

Symposium Almost Sold Out - Register Now

The seventh annual Southern Foodways Symposium is almost sold out, and the Delta Divertissement is already sold out with a wait list stacking up. If have the inclination to join us in Oxford for Southern Foodways in Black & White (and you should), register now! You may download a form from the web and fax it to the SFA, care of Mary Beth.

Calling all deviled egg recipes!

SFA seeks deviled egg recipes and recollections. Let the world know about how your family reunions revolve around eating deviled yard eggs. Tell us about how your aunt piped her filling with a pastry bag. Tell us a story of 100 or so words about what deviled eggs have meant to you and your people. Include a recipe and please detail the recipe's provenance. Email submissions to are highly preferred. Deadline for entries is August 31. Three finalists will be announced on September 15. The winner will receive a free pass to the Southern Foodways Symposium, to be held October 7-10 in Oxford, Mississippi. That Friday, the King or Queen of Deviled Eggs will be crowned at a tasting of deviled eggs and champagne, staged on the Oxford square.

Monday, August 2

Tomato Art Show Debuts in Nashville Aug. 14

On August 14th, the Art and Invention Gallery in Nashville opens an all tomato art show. Join them for a party and heirloom tomato tasting. Their theory is: It is August, it is really hot, everyone is extremely grumpy, and the only thing that sees us through to September are all those fabulous homegrown tomatoes. Ronni Lundy will be there to sign copies of In Praise of Tomatoes. A recipe contest is also planned. Contest judges are Kay West, local food critic; Meg Guiffrieda, owner of the Red Wagon restaurant in East Nashville; and Ann & John Egerton, authors of Southern Food. For more information, call 615-226-2070.

Wednesday, July 21

Grazefest in Montgomery AL -- Sept. 11-12 2004

The SFA is serving as curator of pitmasters for Pasture to the Pit, an exposition and barbecue feed to be held September 11 - 12 at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery. Take a look at for details. On that Sunday, five Deep South pitmasters -- including Van Sykes of Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q (Bessemer, AL) Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q (Decatur, AL) and Leatha Jackson of Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn (Hattiesburg, MS) -- will smoke heirloom varieties of pasture-raised pork. Lucky eaters will judge whether the resulting barbecue is better.

Birmingham Field Trip Makes Economic Impact

For this year's SFA Field Trip, held June 4-6 in and around Birmingham, the SFA pledged to make donations to Alabama organizations that further the cause of racial justice. With the support of members and attendees -- not to mention some speakers who waived remuneration -- we are proud to announce the following donations: $2,450 to bluesman Willie King's Rural Members Foundation, $750 to Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and $250 to West End Camp Fire USA (a division of the Birmingham Second Harvest/United Way).

Tuesday, June 1

SFA & Smithsonian Focus Upon Key Ingredients

In conjunction with the Smithsonian and the Mississippi Humanities Council, the SFA hosts Key Ingredients: America by Food. Over the course of the next year, the exhibit visits seven Mississippi towns, including Oxford.

Sunday, May 30

SFA Oral History Project: Birmingham Greeks

The latest project of the SFA's Oral History Initiative focuses on Greek restaurateurs and cooks of Birmingham, Alabama.

Thursday, May 20

Southern Food & Beverage Museum Opens

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum opens its doors June 12th with an exhibit on New Orleans' Beverages. Although based in New Orleans, the not-for-profit organization is dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and related culture of the whole South. For information, visit:

Sunday, April 18

Paintings from the series Food & Love by Amy Evans debut this month at Koelsch Gallery in Houston.
Can't make it to Houston? Take a gander online at Evans, whose subjects include lemon meringue pie and an homage to Greenwood, Mississippi shoeshine man, Hambone, is the SFA's oral history czar.

Monday, April 5

Oral History Initiative Gets BIG boost from Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q

Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q of Birmingham, Alabama is the lead underwriter of the SFA oral history initiative. Nick Pihakis has pledged a total of $75,000 over the course of five years. The SFA will raise matching funds so that we can hire an oral historian. Among the initial duties we see such a person undertaking will be surveying existing oral histories relating to food, and establishing an outreach program that identifies both interviewers and subjects. And, of course, we see that person in the field, doing interviews. Thanks Nick; thanks Jim 'N Nick's.
Research Request
I am working on a book about the history of the Thanksgiving meal. I want to look at the ways that regional and ethnic traditions/recipes have shaped and continue to shape the holiday menu. For these chapters, I would very much like to include recipes and interviews/quoted information from "informants" from a variety of geographic areas/ethnic backgrounds who can talk with me about their particular individual Thanksgivings -- very much a first person approach. I was hopeful that some of your members might be interested helping me out with this task. I am also seeking references (menus, recipes, descriptions) of 19th and early 20th thanksgiving celebrations.

Kathleen Curtin, Food Historian, Plimoth Plantation; (508) 746 1622 ext. 8281,

Saturday, March 13

Family Albums My time in Birmingham has come to end. This has been an amazing week, and I have heard some incredible stories--stories about Birmingham's history, Greek immigration, the restaurant business, and the families that have been here running cafes and hot dog stands for decades. The photograph pictured here serves as the perfect symbol of my trip. It is a photograph of The Fish Market's George Sarris, holding a photograph of his great-grandfather that was taken in Greece. George carries this photograph around in his wallet as a reminder of his heritage. As another element of this oral history project, we hope to be able to collect images like this one to add to the archive and serve as a genealogical component to our study. While this endeavor originated as an oral history project to capture the history of Greek-owned restaurants in Birmingham, there is still a much bigger tale to tell.

Friday, March 12

Fresh Ingredients The Birmingham Farmer's Market has served the city's restaurants well over the years but none quite so well--and none for quite as long--as the Hontzas family's restaurants. Niki's Downtown, now owned and operated by George Sissa, was opened when the farmer's market was located in downtown Birmingham. Actually, that was one of the reasons the restaurant was opened there on 2nd Avenue North. Eventually, the market moved to the Northwest side of town, where Gus Hontzas decided to open Niki's West. Niki's West is just a stone's throw from the freshest fruits and vegetables to be found in the Magic City, as is Gus's brother Theo Hontzas's place, The Smoke House Restaurant. I visited Theo today in the shadow of this great sign, and we talked about the family's long history in the restaurant business as the steam tables behind us filled with a glorious bounty.

Thursday, March 11

Seeing Stars Thursday morning I headed out to the mining town of Bessemer to visit the legendary Bright Star Restaurant. Opened by Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris in 1907, the Bright Star is Alabama's oldest restaurant still in operation. Bill and Pete Koikos purchased the restaurant in the 1920s, and Bill's sons, Jimmy And Nick Koikos, are still there, greeting regulars and overseeing the expansive menu that includes fresh fish (Roy Moore is pictured here, holding one of the many fresh red snappers the restaurant will serve in a day), steak and some outstanding pie. Speaking of pie, today I also visited with George Sissa at Niki's Downtown. Born in Greece, Mr. grew up in Birmingham, where his father ran a handful of restaurants downtown. George Sissa bought Niki's Downtown from the Hontzas family (the same Hontzas family that still has Niki's West) in the late 1980s and is serving up some traditional Greek fare, Southern specialties, and the absolute best fudge pie I've ever had.

Wednesday, March 10

Greek Barbecue This afternoon I drove out to East Lake on the Northeast side of town, past Sloss Furnaces, to visit Aleck Choraitis at Andrew's Bar-B-Q. Aleck came to Birmingham from Greece via Venezuela in 1957. He spent some years working at various other Greek-owned restaurants in town, including a stint as chef at the famed Gold Nugget (now closed, many maintain that Harry Alexiou introduced fine dining to Birmingham with this restaurant and his popular burnt butter spaghetti). From there, Mr. Choraitis bought Gus's Hot Dogs from its original owner, Gus Alexander. If you remember yesterday's post, George Nasiakos now owns Gus's Hot Dogs; Aleck invited George down from Chicago to take over the hot dog stand, since Aleck wanted to devote his time to his other restaurant, Andrew's Bar-B-Q. It's a family affair at Andrew's--er, Aleck's--and, while it's definitely a barbecue joint (the same woman has been working the pit and making the sauce for sixty-eight years), there's also traditional Greek chicken and southern vegetables on the menu. Aleck and his family travel to Greece annually, where they maintain a house and olive farm. And if that's not enough, Aleck and his brother own a motel in Panama City Beach, Florida. Wondering what happened to the Andrew of Andrew's Bar-B-Q? Stay tuned.
10:30 a.m. Wednesday Getting lunch--yes, lunch--at Niki's West.

Tuesday, March 9

Go-go Dancers & Special Sauce Today I visited with Pete Hontzas and his mother, Betty Hontzas, at Niki's West. The morning was filled with lots of great stories, but I think most folks who pass in front of the steam table at Niki's West might be surprised to know that there was a lounge in the back of the place in the old days. And evidently, the lounge (and yes, Mrs. Hontzas confirmed it, there was a go-go dancer involved) was where part of the expanded kitchen is today. If those walls could talk! And this afternoon I revisited Birmingham legend, Gus Koutroulakis (pictured here), who has been slinging hot dogs for more than fifty years from the same tiny stand in downtown Birmingham, Pete's Famous. Gus is quite a character, and I managed to spend a couple of hours in the place, taking in his hot dog wisdom, learning interesting tidbits from loyal customers and downing a few of Gus's famous dogs with that elusive special sauce. The sauce is unique to Birmingham and certainly a Greek addition to classic take-away fare. Tomorrow I head uptown to Andrew's Barbecue, which is owned by Aleck Choraitis who, by the way, used to own Gus's Hot Dogs. Gus's is now owned and operated by George Nasiakos. Confused? Keep checking back for the oral histories, which are to be posted here soon.

Monday, March 8

The Fish Market Restaurant George Sarris came to Birmingham from Greece in 1969. After a few years of working in restaurants owned by relatives and fellow countrymen, he partnered with his uncle in The Fish Market Restaurant on South 21st Street downtown. In 1982 he bought the business from his uncle and has since become a veritable ambassador of Greek food and culture. In addition to running the restaurant, Mr. Sarris has an import company that deals in Greek products from his native Tsitalia. But with everything from fried green tomatoes to baklava on the restaurant's menu, it is apparent that his place is as Southern as it is Greek. George's father, Kostandinos Sarris, has retired from his days running Sarris's Hot Dogs and can often be found visiting with friends at his son's place. The photograph here is of George and his father and was taken this afternoon after our interview. Tomorrow I head to Niki's West, Gus's Hot Dogs and revisit the legendary Pete's Famous Hot Dogs. Stay tuned. There is much, much more to come!

Sunday, March 7

Feta Grits? As luck--or fate--would have it, I have arrived in Birmingham the day before the Magic City's mascot, Vulcan, is to be reopened after five years of TLC. As I sit here and think about it, this is no accident. Greek mythology says that Vulcan invented a device that made strings of dough. So there you have it: the classical history of Greeks and food...and Birmingham. It is precisely this relationship that has brought me here. This afternoon, fresh from the interstate, I headed for Yanni's restaurant for a late Sunday brunch. Owned by John Calamas, Yanni's is tucked away in the Vestavia City Center (restaurant interior pictured here) and is a thoroughly modern addition to the city's long history of Greek-owned restaurants. I dined on champagne poached salmon egg rolls with tzaziki sauce, with a bowl of feta grits on the side. New South, indeed! Tomorrow I visit George Sarris at The Fish Market downtown, but not before I drive up Red Mountain and say hello to my new friend Vulcan.

I welcome your comments, inquiries or suggestions while I'm on the road. Send them to

Thursday, March 4

New SFA Oral History Project Our next oral history project is taking me to the "Magic City," Birmingham, Alabama. All next week I will be in Birmingham, interviewing Greek cooks and restaurant owners, documenting their rich history of immigration, entrepreneurship and foodways. Keep checking back here for daily updates on the project. -Amy Evans

Monday, March 1

2004 Field Trip and Symposium Dates Set This summer's Field Trip will be the first weekend in June in Birmingham AL. The Seventh Annual Southern Foodways Symposium will be the second weekend in October in Oxford MS. Both will focus upon Food and Race. More information to come as the dates draw near.
Louisiana Heritage Day in Larose, LA, Sunday, March 14. Free, all-day event focusing on Louisiana food and music heritage. Includes cooking demos (chefs John Folse, Randy Cheramie, Lenny Minutello), lectures by food scholars and writers (David Beriss, Marcelle Bienvenue, et al), and music by Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys.

Wednesday, February 11

Derby Food Book Debuts Sarah Fritschner's new book is Derby 101 (Butler Books, March 2004; $22.95/ trade paperback). It captures the culinary spirit of Derby entertaining and tradition. All the traditional foods are here, from country ham to Benedictine, beer cheese to burgoo. This comprehensive 128-page book includes color photography of recipes by John Rott along with black and white photographs of the Derby Festival.

Monday, February 2

2004 SFA Board Retreat
The SFA Board held its annual retreat January 31-February 1 in Chapel Hill,

In addition to a grueling 10-hour meeting, we ate some fine meals, thanks to
Brian Stapleton of Carolina Crossroads in Chapel Hill; Bill Smith of Crook's
Corner in Chapel Hill; Karen and Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill in Durham; and
Sara Foster of Foster's Market in Chapel Hill. Board member Marcie Ferris
was our host for the weekend.

Tuesday, January 27

Joe York and Matt Bruder, the duo who made the SFA's first documentary film , are at work again. Their subject is Ed Scott, past winner of the Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award. Scott was the first African American catfish farmer and processor in the Mississippi Delta. His story is a compelling one. Joe ( and Matt want to put Scott's story in the context of the rise of farm-raised catfish, and would like to hear from anyone who can add perspective to the same.