Cornbread Nation 4: The Best of Southern Food Writing

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This new collection in the Southern Foodways Alliance's popular series serves up a fifty-three-course celebration of southern foods, southern cooking, and the people and traditions behind them. Editors Dale Volberg Reed and John Shelton Reed have combed magazines, newspapers, books, and journals to bring us a "best of" gathering that is certain to satisfy everyone from omnivorous chowhounds to the most discerning student of regional foodways.

After an opening celebration of the joys of spring in her natal Virginia by the redoubtable Edna Lewis, the Reeds organize their collection under eight sections exploring Louisiana and the Gulf Coast before and after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the food and farming of the Carolina Lowcountry, "Sweet Things," southern snacks and fast foods, "Downhome Food," "Downhome Places," and a comparison of southern foods with those of other cultures.

In his "This Isn't the Last Dance," Rick Bragg recounts his experience, many years ago, of a New Orleans jazz funeral and finds hope therein that the unique spirit of New Orleanians will allow them to survive: "I have seen these people dance, laughing, to the edge of a grave. I believe that, now, they will dance back from it." "My passport may be stamped Yankee," writes Jessica B. Harris in her "Living North/Eating South," "but there's no denying that my stomach and culinary soul and those of many others like me are pure Dixie." In her "Tough Enough: The Muscadine Grape," Simone Wilson explains that the lowly southern fruit has double the heart-healthy resveratrol of French grapes, thus offering the hope of a "southern paradox." The title of Candice Dyer's brief history says it all: "Scattered, Smothered, Covered, and Chunked: Fifty Years of the Waffle House." In a photo essay, documentarian Amy Evans shows us the world of oystering along northwest Florida's Apalachicola Bay, and for the first time in the series, recipes are given-for a roux, braised collard greens, doberge cake, and other dishes.

Published in association with the Southern Foodways Alliance at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. A Friends Fund Publication.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"From a fascinating oral history of Paul Prudhomme's contributions to the cuisine of Louisiana to a lovely essay in praise of pork rinds (complete with a list of appropriate wine pairings!), this book offers all the proof I need that Cornbread Nation is by far the best place in the world to live."—Julia Reed, author of Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena

"The writers in Cornbread Nation 4 form a patchwork quilt of voices celebrating the rich and varied heritage that is southern cooking."—Scott Peacock, Executive Chef of Watershed Restaurant and recipient of the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast

Pop Matters
Cornbread Nation 4 is a vivid, heart-felt, often lyrical look at some of the most iconic food of the South-- from the commercial to the home-cooked to the most seasonal of delicacies, gathered in the wild ... You'll wish you could stop by and meet these legends-- along with many of the authors and characters in Cornbread Nation 4-- for yer'self.
Ann On The Daily News Record
Anyone who has ever split a fresh biscuit or held a steaming cup of Brunswick stew during a chilly outdoor event will appreciate 'Cornbread Nation 4' ... It's wonderfully varied church supper of Southern food, Southern cooking, and Southern people ... a compilation that will make even a Yankee's mouth water.
—Theresa Curry
The Athens Banner-Herald
The stories, most of which have no recipes at all, promise to stuff the soul if not the stomach.
—Erin Rossiter
Library Journal

Unlike the two previous collections, the fourth in the series, edited by the coauthors of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South, rejects a binding theme, instead meandering throughout the South in eight structured sections. The selections are solid, and standouts include a haunting photo-essay on the Apalachicola oyster industry by Amy Evans, Rick Bragg's stubbornly worded "This Isn't the Last Dance," Rick Brooks's report on the effort local cooks have taken to recapture recipes that were lost to Katrina, Brett Anderson's fascinating transcript of a conversation on the life and career of Paul Prudhomme, and Audrey Petty's sweet reminiscences of eating chitlins with her mother. Among the 53 selections are many recipes, not found in previous compilations, which greatly enhance the book. For regional cookery and Southern studies collections.
—Rosemarie Lewis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820330891
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Series: Cornbread Nation, #4
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Dale Volberg Reed is a freelance musician and writer. John Shelton Reed is founding coeditor of the journal Southern Cultures. He is the Mark W. Clark Visiting Professor History at The Citadel, and William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Reeds are coauthors of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about the South. The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. It is a member-supported organization of more than 1,000 cooks, thinkers, academics, writers, and eaters. Atlantic Monthly called the SFA "this country's most intellectually engaged (and probably most engaging) food society." John T. Edge is director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and Cornbread Nation general editor. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Foodways and A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South. Edge contributes to a wide array of publications, including the New York Times, Oxford American, and Garden & Gun.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction

5 Spring
Edna Lewis

Louisiana and the Gulf Coast : Before
13 Tabasco: Edmund McIlhenny and the Birth of a Louisiana Pepper Sauce
Shane K. Bernard
20 Boudin and Beyond
Mary Tutwiler
26 First You Make a Roux
Terri Pischoff Wuerthner
32 A Lunchtime Institution Overstuffs Its Last Po’ Boy
R. W. Apple Jr.
37 Apalachicola
Amy Evans
53 The Natural
Brett Anderson

Louisiana and the Gulf Coast : After
69 This Isn’t the Last Dance
Rick Bragg
71 Letter from New Orleans
Lolis Eric Elie
78 From the Crescent City to the Bayou City
Peggy Grodinsky
83 A Meal to Remember
Judy Walker
88 Comforting Food: Recapturing Recipes Katrina Took Away
Rick Brooks
93 Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Jim Auchmutey
97 Crab Man
Robb Walsh

Interlude : The Lowcountry
109 Lowcountry Lowdown
Jack Hitt
115 Carolina Comfort, out of Africa
Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Sweet Things
121 Sugar: Savior or Satan?
Molly O’Neill
130 Molasses-Colored Glasses
Frederick Douglass Opie
139 The Genie in the Bottle of Red Food Coloring
Beth Ann Fennelly

Corndog Nation
145 Store Lunch
Jerry Leath Mills
147 The South’s Love Affair with Soft Drinks
Tom Hanchett
153 The Moon Pie: A Southern Journey
William Ferris
160 Mountain Dogs
Fred Sauceman
166 Scattered, Smothered, Covered, and Chunked: Fifty Years of the Waffle House
Candice Dyer
172 Let Us Now Praise Fabulous Cooks
John T. Edge

Downhome Food
181 Molly Mooching on Bradley Mountain
Mary Hufford
189 Deep Roots
Wendell Brock
194 Tough Enough: The Muscadine Grape
Simone Wilson
196 Making a Mess of Poke
Dan Huntley
201 Green Party
Julia Reed
206 Something Special
Carroll Leggett
211 Cornbread in Buttermilk
Michael McFee
212 Salt
Michael McFee
214 Pork Skins
Michael McFee
216 Rinds
Fred Thompson
218 Late-Night Chitlins with Momma
Audrey Petty
222 No Bones about It
Carol Penn-Romine
224 The Way of All Flesh
Hal Crowther
228 By the Silvery Shine of the Moon
Jim Myers

Downhome Places
237 Is There a Difference between Southern and Soul?
Shaun Chavis
245 Movement Food
Bernard Lafayette
252 Ricky Parker
David Leite
256 Home away from Home Cookin’
Deb Barshafsky
261 The Cypress Grill
T. Edward Nickens

Compare and Contrast
267 Roll Over, Escoffier
Jim Ferguson
270 Wie Geht’s, Y’all? German Influences in Southern Cooking
Fred R. Reenstjerna
273 Living North/Eating South
Jessica B. Harris
275 Why Jews Don’t Get Quail
Marcie Cohen Ferris
279 Southern by the Grits of God
Timothy C. Davis
282 Ziti vs. Kentucky
Cindy Lamb
285 Dennis Water Cress
Christopher Lang
288 Frank Stitt
Pat Conroy
293 Benediction
The Reverend Will D. Campbell

299 Contributors
303 Acknowledgments

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