Tuesday, August 31


David Pham by Ashley Hall.

This summer, Ashley Hall, SFA member and freelance writer, embarked on a journey to collect stories relating to the effects of the Gulf oil spill. She traveled the coast from Biloxi, MS, to Apalachicola, FL, as a field correspondent for Gravy, the SFA foodletter, revisiting oral history subjects whenever possible. She collected some new voices, too--voices like David Pham's.

David Pham is a counselor at Boat People SOS, an organization in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, that specializes in support services for southeast Asian immigrants, many of whom work in the seafood industry. This short interview is a wonderful example of the hurdles an immigrant community faces in a time of crisis.

We will be featuring all of Ashley’s Gulf Coast interviews on OKRACAST, so check back each week for new installments.

Grab some headphones and go!

Monday, August 30


Eater.com, the "national restaurant, bar, and nightlife blog" did a run-down of cookbooks hitting bookstores this fall. Among the books they are "particulary excited" about is none other than the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.

"By sourcing recipes from spiral-bound community cookbooks and then testing and adapting them for modern kitchens, this collection of recipes has the potential to become the standard reference on the topic. Add to that the research power of the Southern Foodways Alliance and its director John T. Edge, and this book could be unstoppable."

Thanks for the good word. We're excited to have the book in our kitchens too, grease-splattered and smudged.

Friday, August 27


SFA friend and collaborator Kate Medley just produced this beautiful piece for our friends at Whole Foods.  Kate visited with SFA oral history subject Tommy Ward, as well as Greg Abrams, whom Ashley Hall spoke with when she toured the Gulf Coast to collect stories that are now appearing on Okracast, the SFA podcast.

The takeaway from this piece? Gulf seafood is safe, but people are still scared to eat, so the fisherman are having a hard time making a living. Do your part. Eat Gulf seafood.

Tuesday, August 24


Frank Parker by Ashley Hall.

This summer, Ashley Hall, SFA member and freelance writer, embarked on a journey to collect stories relating to the effects of the Gulf oil spill. She traveled the coast from Biloxi, MS, to Apalachicola, FL, as a field correspondent for Gravy, the SFA foodletter, revisiting oral history subjects whenever possible---subjects like seventh-generation shrimper Frank Parker, whose 2008 interview we featured on our inaugural edition of OKRACAST.

Ashley's June 22 interview with Frank Parker is our latest edition of OKRACAST. In this follow-up interview, Frank talks about how the Gulf oil spill has affected his family and his way of life. Go here to access the interview through iTunes and subscribe to OKRACAST.

We will be featuring all of Ashley’s Gulf Coast interviews on OKRACAST, so check back each week for new installments.

Grab some headphones and go!

Saturday, August 21


Eating the SFA Cookbook: Boiled Peanuts

I had to take a brief intermission from eating the SFA Community Cookbook--doctor's orders. I have been on bed rest (at 33 weeks pregnant), so standing to cook or bake was out of the question. Though I am officially still on bed rest (hope you're not reading this, doc!), I found a compromise: boiled peanuts. You can't get much more hands off than that.

The most important part of this recipe is the fresh, green peanuts. My husband and father-in-law graciously visited our local farmers market store to get me the needed three pounds of legumes. I'll be the first to admit I was a bit skeptical about the amount of water and salt in the recipe. Both are far less than I would have expected (only 3 Tbsp. of salt?). I think my father-in-law wanted to dump in more salt when I walked out of the room (thank you for your restraint, Otis).

Making this was incredibly easy. Boil. Wait. Eat. Results...if it was up to me, I would add more salt. But I like a really salty peanut. Also, the recipe says to boil 1-2 hours. I boiled them for 1.5 hours and then let them sit in the water for another hour. This meant the peanuts were not completely mushy (though I actually prefer a mushier version). My husband disagrees. He loved the outcome, salt- and consistency-wise; I think he just wishes I could produce some college football to eat them in front of.

Speaking of boiled, I was hoping I could get some advice. A few weeks back, I wanted to take a load of deviled eggs (with a recipe found in the SFA Community Cookbook) to a potluck supper. I am fortunate to have a dozen chickens in my backyard (that someone else cares for), so the egg recall does not apply here. However, I have found the freshness of the eggs to cause some major problems when it comes to peeling a hard-boiled egg. Is it even possible to peel fresh eggs (the eggs were about 3 weeks old)? Let me tell you what I tried, and hopefully someone out there can tell me where I'm going wrong. I covered the eggs with water (with 1 tsp. of baking powder), brought it to a boil, covered the pot, turned off the gas, and let them sit for 15 minutes. Then I immersed them in an ice bath for 10 minutes and then tried to peel. I could not get a clean peel. So now I've eaten a lot of boiled eggs, but none of them deviled, like I wanted. Help, please!

Wednesday, August 18


Mark Lyons for The New York Times

Buying Your Favorite Foods, In Context

I'm not sure what I like most about this article in the NY Times today, but I think it may be the picture of Anna Sturgeon hugging a Cheerwine bottle to her face. But I also agree that purchasing a local product where it's made (in contrast to just ordering products online) can totally change the experience. I'm all for buying things online; three cheers for entrepreneurship! But eating artisan chocolate a few miles from where it's made or a tomato that's still warm from the field--it (arguably) changes the taste, the experience.

"A treat bought at its source and carried home by [your] own hands is somehow more genuine, more delicious, more earned."

To read the entire article, "For Some Foods, You Just Had to Be There," click here.

To read what you should do with that bottle of Cheerwine, after you make a pilgrimage to the Carolinas, click here.

Tuesday, August 17


Working with oral historian extraordinaire, Amy Evans Streeter, I set out to collect my first interview documenting the history of Chinese American grocers in the Delta: Tony and Monica Li of Wong's Foodland in Clarksdale, MS.

First introduced to the Mississippi Delta as indentured servants by planters during Reconstruction, these early Chinese sojourners soon became disenchanted with working in the fields and moved off the plantation to set up small grocery stores nearby. Mainly serving as an alternative to plantation commissaries and catering to a predominately African American clientele, the Chinese American grocer was a mainstay in many Delta neighborhoods well into the 20th century. Though their numbers have diminished in recent years, their history is an important part of the foodways of the Delta.

Wong's Foodland has stayed in the family with Tony Li taking over after his uncle Frank Wong sold it to him in the early 1990s. Mr. Li says nothing much has changed to store since his uncle built it in 1959. And, as you can see by the aged wood panels and vintage linoleum, it certainly looks that way.

~Kevin Kim


Kevin is a senior history major at Swarthmore College. He will be presenting his fieldwork documenting Chinese grocers in the Delta as part of this year's symposium, the theme of which is the Global South.

Go here for more info on SFA internships.

Monday, August 16


Has it really been almost a year since we found ourselves in Oxford as the pleased-as-punch recipients of the inaugural Egerton Prize? We can still taste those delicate catfish fritters and hear Otis Clay’s soulful crooning.

Certainly no update would be complete unless we filled y’all in on the victuals we’ve been serving up to get folks connected with their own wild places. Last November, with the support of Savory Thymes, we hosted a sold-out Wild Game & Foraged Feast Fundraiser in the Bay Area. Talented local chefs, hunters, foragers and jerky makers collaborated with us on an inspired menu that showcased California treats with a Cracker twist. Our guests gobbled up Dixie Lily corn bread, swamp cabbage pickles, pimento cheese and fried gator alongside wild nettle soup shooters and grilled wild hog & venison -- most for the first time! Local folks brought homemade pumpkin beer and meade, but the big surprise was a dozen mason jars of Bristol’s finest “Apple Pie” and “Corn” hand-delivered by some new SFA pals (who by request shall remain nameless) that we met only three weeks before at the Symposium.

After a busy winter, in April, we wrapped production. In May, we officially kicked off post-production with an intensive two-month residency in California, where we watched hundreds of hours of Florida Cracker families hunting, trapping, fishing and gigging along with footage from 15+ years of Hayley’s life. We are currently scriptwriting and will begin the edit in the coming weeks.

Along the way, we were honored with a series of additional prestigious awards, including Chicken and Egg Pictures “I Believe in You Grant”, the San Francisco Film Society/FAF Documentary Award, two Winston Foundation Grants, and the SFFS FilmHouse Residency. But the Egerton Prize launched it all and we plan to do you proud.

Look for Swamp Cabbage: a Dark and Sweaty Documentary in late 2011. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on all the dark and sweaty good times (and good eats) to come!


Photo by Aya Brackett

Good Food Awards

Calling all Southern food producers to submit an entry to the Good Food Awards! Now through September 15, the Good Food Awards is looking for outstanding beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles, and preserves makers to enter their star products. The grocery aisles can be an exhausting exercise in value judgments: affordable vs. fair trade, organic vs. authentic, local vs. grassfed. The Good Food Awards will cut through all of that, giving a recognizable seal to the foods judged by luminaries of the food world to be exception in both flavor and their responsible practices. Alice Waters will host the awards ceremony on January 14, and winners are invited to take part in the ceremony and a special marketplace. The farmers and ranchers behind the foods will also be honored, showing it takes a village to make a jam. There is a special category for the South, and entry is via a simple online form filled out by September 15, followed by sending a sample to the blind tasting by the likes of Ruth Reichl, Nell Newman, Paul Bertolli, Bruce Aidells, and more. Entrants also pay a $10 processing fee.

Friday, August 13


Cory Bordonaro talks to SFA oral historian Amy Evans Streeter about the import of oral history by way of the SFA's Birmingham Greeks project, as well as our 2008 SFA Greenhouse film, Hot-Dogopolis, by Eric Feldman and Leyla Modirzadeh in the current issue of the Birmingham Weekly.

Our deadline for proposals for the next round of SFA Greenhouse micro-grants is August 15. Visit our SFA Greenhouse page for more info.

Wednesday, August 11


The SFA's Southern Gumbo Trail is featured in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine in an article called "Charting America's Food Trails" that features culinary destinations throughout the country. From the article:

Documentary projects like the Southern Foodways Alliance are also recognizing the importance of preserving a region's culinary heritage--recording oral histories and at the same time providing interactive itineraries for travelers craving a real taste of history.

Go here to view our interactive map.
Visit the Southern Gumbo Trail.
View a complete list of our documentary projects right here.

Grab a spoon and go!

Saturday, August 7


Eating the SFA Cookbook: Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken

Besides getting to enjoy a week at the beach with my family, another bonus of visiting South Carolina was being in Cheerwine Country. I was actually just south of said Country (Cheerwine is birthed in Salisbury, NC), but luckily Cheerwine is available in SC too. So while cooking Black-Eyed Peas, I was planning for what we'd eat from the SFA Community Cookbook the next week. This was my opportunity to collect the not-so-secret ingredient for the Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken, which sounded like gold since the first time I read it.

After crossing several state lines with our 2-Liter bumping around the backseat (and the bottle of Cheerwine... Sorry, Martha Jane, I couldn't resist), I needed to round up enough hungry mouths to eat this dish with us. The good/bad news about this recipe is it makes a lot of chicken. If you're a home of less than four, you'll want to get some friends to help you out--or work on leftovers all week. Luckily, we were able to gather four friends to help test the recipe with us.

Even though prep and cooking of this dish is fairly simple, this isn't a last-minute recipe. You need to plan in advance. The Cheerwine barbecue sauce is cooked on the stove-top and then needs to cool before marinating the chicken. The chicken needs to lounge in the sauce for 4-8 hours before baking or grilling. Luckily, I read the recipe a few times in advance, so I was prepared. Ingredients beyond the soft drink are things you'll readily have in your cupboard/fridge. Just get a mess of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, put them in the marinade in the morning, and you're good to go that night. We decided to bake the thighs (vs grilling), which was so easy. Baste once in the hour they cook; that's it. The chicken comes out moist and sweet, with just a tinge of spice. Loved it! Seems like all the guests did too. All I had left at the end of supper was a pile of chicken bones. I usually don't cook chicken with the skin on it, and what a difference it makes in moistness of the meat! Personally, I don't love the consistency of chicken skin, but I was out-voted by everyone else involved. I know when to stand down.

I have to give a quick shout-out to Aunt Lella again. I used Lella's recipe for homemade mayonnaise (from Nan Davis's Blue Ribbon Pimento Cheese, the first recipe in the Cookbook) to use in my squash casserole. I'm telling you, if you try her recipe, you'll never want to go back to store bought mayo. Never. And don't you love that you can shroud squash in mayonnaise and cheese and you still get to call it a vegetable?

Moral of this story: if you are in or near Cheerwine Country, get yourself a bottle. And get a big one. That way you can enjoy a couple of 'cold ones' while you make your chicken. And maybe another to wash it all down.

Friday, August 6


The SFA Community Cookbook and Ann Cashion's caramel cake recipe featured within make an appearance in the September issue of Food & Wine. For those of you who can't wait to get your hands on a copy of the magazine, you can find Ann's recipe right here.

Look for the SFA Community Cookbook to hit bookstores in October.

Tuesday, August 3


13th Annual SFA Symposium: The Global South
October 22-24, 2010

Delta Divertissement SOLD OUT
October 21-22, 2010

The thirteenth annual Southern Foodways Symposium will be held October 22-24, 2010, in and around the town of Oxford and on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

The Delta Divertissement, now in its eighth year, will take place October 21-22 in nearby Greenwood and Clarksdale.

Both events will explore the Global South.

For much of our region’s history, we’ve understood the South to be a land of Native American, West African, and Western European peoples. Over the course of this long weekend, we’ll stage talks, dinners, and performances that complicate that prevailing concept.

For information and to register, click HERE.

Monday, August 2


Hot-Dogopolis from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.


What’s the SFA Greenhouse? It’s small budget initiative geared to assist collectors in documenting the food stories in their local areas, with an emphasis on film and multi-media projects. To apply for SFA Greenhouse funds, please send us a letter describing your project, its importance, relevant information about costs and timetables for completion, as well examples of previous work or work already completed in support of your proposed project. Please send your letter to the SFA's oral historian, Amy Evans Streeter, at acevans@olemiss.edu. And please know that when we talk of money, we’re talking small potatoes, not monster rutabagas.
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Hot-Dogopolis is aSFA Greenhouse film by Eric Feldman by and Leyla Modirzadeh, featuring the story of the Greek community in Birmingham, Alabama, and part of their restaurant legacy in the lunch stands that make Birmingham a great Southern city for a hot dog.