Tuesday, February 27


The Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail is the recipient of the 2006 Elbert R. Hilliard Award for Outstanding Oral History Project, which is awarded by the Mississippi Historical Society. From the award letter: "This award, which carries a $300 cash gift, was established by the Mississippi Historical Society to recognize oral history projects exemplifying a distinguished collection, high-quality preservation, and proper use of oral history."

Thank you to everyone who has supported this project that documents the history, tradition and culture of hot tamales in the Mississippi Delta. Most of all, thank you to the tamale makers and vendors who have shared their stories.

Look for new interviews to be published on www.tamaletrail.com this summer.

The SFA received the same award last year for the Doe's Eat Place Oral History Project.

Saturday, February 24


Good news, fried chicken lovers!

I say this at the risk of sounding like I am crying wolf, but it appears that the end of the Scotch House project is truly not only in sight, but also within reach.

The last nine weeks have been nothing short of frustrating. The Thanksgiving work weekend did much to ready Ms. Seaton's apartment for her move home, but everything on the planet conspired against us and we were unable to connect the gas and electricity to make the place livable. There is now good news that I am extremely happy to report, however.

The electricity is on throughout the building. The central air/heat units were delivered and installed, and gas will be hooked up shortly. Work is completely finished on the house side of the building.

On the restaurant side there is a little touch-up painting to be done. The bar top is to be laminated, plumbing fixtures need to be installed, and the drain lines have to be tied into the sewer mains out on the street. After what seemed like a heavyweight title bout, we did manage to get the hood vent installed and a group contracted to install the fire suppression system. Things are chugging along on the restaurant side.

Given the unexpected twists and turns of this project, I am hesitant to set an opening date right this second. John T, Mary Beth and Lolis are hoping to get a firmer idea this and we will let everyone know as soon as we have reached a consensus. Until then, please keep you fingers crossed. We are very close and I could not be much more encouraged.

My very best, as always,

Johnny Snack
(a.k.a. John Currence)

Wednesday, February 21


In celebration of the achievements of the South's best chefs and artisans, Blackberry Farm, in concert with the SFA, is hosting a new edition of the annual Taste of the South gathering this week at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN.

This year we honor and celebrate chefs and artisans, bringing those vital figures of Southern food culture together for enrichment and education, both as recompense for their contributions and as a catalyst for the practice of Southern foodways.

As part of the event, we are featuring oral history interviews with the five honored chefs, who also happen to be founding members of the SFA: Ben Barker, Karen Barker, Leah Chase, Louis Osteen & Frank Stitt. Read their interviews here.

Monday, February 19


The SFA is collaborating with the American Studies department at the University of Texas for the Texas leg of our Southern BBQ Trail. Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt has dedicated her graduate level American Foodways class solely to the collection of oral history interviews relating to the tradition and craft of barbecue in and around Austin. SFA oral historian Amy Evans traveled to Austin in January to speak with the class about the project and conducting fieldwork. Look for the Texas addition to the BBQ Trail to premier online in May.

Tuesday, February 6


ABOVE THE LINE: SAVING WILLIE MAE'S SCOTCH HOUSE, a documentary by SFA's Joe York, will debut at the 2007 Oxford Film Festival this weekend. Information on the festival, and its films, may be viewed online at www.oxfordfilmfest.com. This film will debut to SFA audiences this July, when we visit Houston for a Potlikker Film Festival.

Though the film's finished (temporarily), work continues on the Scotch House. The power is on, and finishing touches to the restaurant kitchen are in progress. We'll look forward to a movie update when the doors open.

Friday, February 2


Sandra Oliver, food historian and author, will speak on "Beyond Cook Books: Researching Food History," in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-CH's Wilson Library on Thurs., Feb. 8 at 5:30 PM. Oliver will examine the value of using cookbooks in food history, including what recipes really tell us, and she'll suggest other important sources for foodways research. Oliver is the founding editor and publisher of Food History News, now in its 18th year, a quarterly publication dedicated to four hundred years of North American foodways, and its companion website www.foodhistorynews.com, one of the top food history sites in the country. Oliver is the author of Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Food at Sea and Ashore in the Nineteenth Century (1995) and Food in Colonial and Federal America (2005). Refreshments will be served. This talk is co-sponsored by the Southern Historical Collection and the Curriculum in American Studies.


SFA filmmaker Joe York has produced a streaming video on distilled spirits for the Feb. 1 issue of the AJC. To sneak a peak, visit http://www.ajc.com/living/content/living/food/index.html