Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Culture club, y'all

Can I get an amen for the Southern Foodways Alliance?

They're responsible for this T-shirt (along with the designer Billy Reid)...

But more than awesome slogans, SFA preserves Southern food culture through film, interviews, charitable work, etc.

I like to write about food because I think it's such a poignant expression of culture. It's art, travel, agriculture, health and social issues... but it’s also a bologna sandwich with Aunt Eunice, if you know what I mean. I believe SFA celebrates food culture in all its simplicity -- and complexity -- so I can't wait for their annual conference next week about Southern food and music and how the two have influenced one another.

The SFA also puts out a collection of the Best of Southern Food Writing every year. It's usually some of my favorite writers like Rick Bragg and R.W. Apple Jr. from the New York Times, so I have pored over every word of every book. But this year, they chose one of my stories from The Tennessean, and I couldn't have been more surprised if they’d thrown an iron skillet at my forehead. I'm so flattered, and convinced frankly that it was more my subject than my writing -- a feisty chef in her 80s named Phila Hach. She has such a positive, magnetic spirit that every time I visit her I want to crawl into the folds of her apron and live off her little crumbs of wisdom. (If you want to read the story about her, click here: "She's the Grace Before Dinner.")

I'm glad, too, that the SFA seems to have a sense of humor about the culture thing. Yeah, we're probably gonna get all deep on food and music, but we'll also be treated to a chitlin -themed performance by the Memphis Ballet, and one session led by Roy Blount Jr. will cover Songs About Food That Are Really About Sex. Uh-huh. Make cornbread not war indeed.

I’m thinking this is an example from Old Crow Medicine Show. I wonder if he'll mention it…

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