The Surprisingly Recent Story of How Shrimp and Grits Won Over the South. This isn't a new article, but damn did it make me want some shrimp and grits.
The Testosterone Takeover of Southern Food Writing In which Kathleen Purvis asks why male voices have come to dominate big-market Southern food writing and pokes at the genre's resulting obsessions with "bourbon, barbecue and pork belly." From The Bitter Southerner.
The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
Slugburgers, hamburgers in which the meat has been supplemented with bread, meal, or crackers for filler, come from a triangular region that cuts across northern Alabama, northern Mississippi, and southern Tennessee and roughly corresponds with the Tennessee Valley. They're called slugburgers in Moulton, Alabama; Decatur, Alabama; and Corinth, Mississippi; doughburgers in Tupelo, Mississippi; and breadburgers in Cullman, Alabama. This regional take on the hamburger became popular during the Great Depression, when the price of meat made it necessary to use fillers to extend supply. Though the exact origin of the term is disputed, it is most commonly held that Slugburgers got their name from the coin used to pay for them: when each burger cost 5¢, you could pay for one with a nickel which was then also called a slug. Corinth, Mississippi, has held an annual Slugburger Festival since 1988. Take a photographic tour of the Slugburger Trail. [more inside]
The Southern Foodways Alliance is one weighed-down church-supper table, full of oral history/blog projects like The Tamale Trail, the Boudin Trail, interviews and recipes from the Bartenders of New Orleans, photo essay/interviews from Birmingham's Greek-Americans, a mess o'homemade films, and a passel of event and BBQ-shack photos on Flickr, all smothered in the tangy-sweet academic goodness of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. These folks get my vote for most flavorful, funkiest food-loving folklorists in the lower forty-eight. [more inside]
The Best Food You Never Had: Reading Jake Adam York's juicy essay on the art of the barbecue, I was once again sadly reminded I've never had the pleasure of tasting real, Southern U.S. open-pit barbecue. I have no idea whether it's better in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky or Georgia; whether pork is better than beef; smoked is tastier than plain... Then I realized there are quite a number of other delicious foods (like fresh abalone sashimi; Alaskan king crab cooked live; a clam-bake on the beach; real wasabi; smoked sablefish; fresh unsalted caviar; an oyster Po'Boy...) I've never tried. It's an interesting gastronomic category: something you've read about and heard about and probably drooled over, that you just know you'd love if only you had a chance to try it! So forgive my curiosity: what's the best food you've never had? [Main link via Arts and Letters Daily]