Oxford American 2010 Southern Food Issue, ADHD Edition

OA68Cover.inddOxford American's Southern Food 2010 issue, guest edited by John T. Edge, is filled cover to cover with articles, essays and fiction detailing the many facets of Southern food. Mostly beautiful memories of dishes cooked lovingly by family and friends, the entire issue drives home the point that Southern food, perhaps more than any other regional American cuisine, is a cuisine built heavily on history, locality and memory. The best part? Anyone from the South will recognize places, people, basketball rivalries and flavors from their own lives, which is almost as comforting as mac and cheese.

  • The issues kicks off with "This Land is our Land," an editorial by John T. Edge about the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a coalition of black farmers in Alabama, and their fight to see the same government aid as white farmers.
  • In "The Rich Get Thinner, the Poor Get Fatter," Warwick Sabin has a compelling take on why the South has the highest rate of obesity in the country. Turns out it's not (totally) because of the country-fried steak.
  • Jack Pendarvis wants everyone to know that he thought chicken on a stick was cool way before everyone else knew about it in "Backlash on a Stick." (Print only.)
  • In "People of the Cake," Diane Roberts talks about, well, cake: coconut cake, strawberry shortcake, cakes soaked in liquor, seven-minute icing! (Print only.)
  • "This Is Not What You Dream" by Mamie Morgan is a beautiful song of an essay about the trials and tribulations of waiting tables. (Print only.)
  • In "Not Just For Bushwackers," Jack Hitt talks jerky, both of the homemade and Slim Jim varieties. (Print only.)
  • "The Great White Hope" by Brett Anderson details the rise of Texan sushi chef Tyson Cole, and how he learned to create beautiful sushi at his restaurant Uchi in Austin, despite only having been to Japan once. (Print only.)
  • "The Wide World of Eating Dirt" by Beth Ann Fennelly is a fascinating look at the Southern practice of eating dirt, offering a balanced, nonjudgmental perspective and detailed history of something that probably seems really crazy to Yankees.
  • John Simpkins discusses Emile DeFelice and his South Carolina heirloom pig farm in "The Old Ways," and wonders if the artisanal-farmer renaissance has any real value in the days of agribusiness. (Print only.)
  • Audrey Petty tells us about her daughter's first Southern meal in "A Place at the Table." (Print only.)
  • Is there a cohesive Arkansan cuisine? In "What Do Arkansans Eat?," Sam Eifling outlines it as Arkansan-grown ingredients, and sometimes raccoon. (Print only.)
  • Michael Parker's essay, "Let's Write About Food!," is an affectionate remembrance of his mother's cooking column featuring some truly terrifying recipes. (Print only.)
  • "Oh, the Oyster!" is lyrical enough to make anyone want to eat an oyster. (Print only.)
  • "The Southern Strawberry," an essay by Marianne Gingher, is yet another poetic ode to beautiful food. (Print only.)
  • "Autobiography As Told to a Goat" is a haunting essay on loss told through the lens of the death of a beloved pet goat. (Print only.)
  • Despite her mother's urging that, "Jews don't live on farms," Dava Shavis discusses being Jewish and argricultural in "Home on the Hills." (Print only.)
  • Young Southern chefs are bringing back the almost-forgotten sesame seed. "Tiny Heirlooms" delves into the history of sesame seeds in the South, and chronicles the scientists, farmers and chefs who are trying to bring them back in order to replicate long-lost traditional recipes.
  • "Drive-By Trucker" gets an automatic win for best article of the bunch in my book, not only because of its interesting take on Southern food trucks in a city dominated by tacos, but also for that perennial Carolina-Duke game shout-out.
  • "Yardbird Night" is a telling essay about how unforgettable food can be when you're stuck on a ship. (Print only.)
  • Wright Thompson's essay, "Yancey's Red Hots" is a rumination on a memory of a beloved tamale, and how, more often than not, it's the personality in the kitchen that makes food memorable. (Print only.)
  • "MoonPie Beer? Kudzu Beer?" is an article about a Durham, NC, brewery that emphasizes local, truly Southern ingredients. There's a little sweet-tea blasphemy there in the beginning, but don't take it personally. (Print only.)
  • In "The Gritty South," Alice Randall meets with a Nashville chocolatier who's looking to bring artisan chocolate to the South. (Print only.)
  • Brad Watson remembers making barbecue chicken with his stepfather, and he details it lustfully in his essay, "The Rich Life." (Print only.)
  • In "The Perfect Chef," food critic Todd Kliman gives us some insight into his all-encompassing obsession with a mysterious chef who bounces around from crappy Chinese restaurant to crappy Chinese restaurant around the South. What is he running from, and, more importantly, what makes his food so enchanting? Kliman tackles both questions, but mostly just leaves us hungry to hunt down this guy for ourselves.
  • Megan Mayhew sure spins a good tale about food. In her story, "The Right Company," tells us about a dejected woman trying to find intimacy through her daily diner breakfasts with an old food critic. (Print only.)
  • Where are all the black chefs? John Kessler tackles this question by chronicling the rise and departure of Atlanta chef Darryl Evans. (Print only.)
  • Afraid that you won't be able to get your grit fix outside of the South? "Everywhere Is Home" reassures us that you can have grits all over the place these days. (Print only.)
  • In "The Origin Myth of New Orleans Cuisine," Lolis Eric Elie details the murky history of Creole cuisine in New Orleans.
  • Greg Bottoms makes the preparation of chitlins into a marvelous memory in "Cultural Dissonance." (Print only.)
  • Keith Pandolfi profiles Cajun chef Donald Link in "Celebrating Survival." (Print only.)

—EMD's resident Southerner Rachael Oehring

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