Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grits ain't groceries.

In honor of its republication in a new and improved version, I would like to reconsider John T. Edge's 2000 Hill Street publication Southern Belly, almost a decade on. I haven't seen the new one yet and do hope that it both expands upon the original as well as corrects some major oversights like Appalachian Southern Food dude! Just because they are poor WASPs doesn't mean they don't exist. Ask Evans and Agee.

I mean c'mon Fresh Mountain Rainbow Trout: Fried, Smoked, Pan Seared, Sauteed, or Oven Roast. Surely Frank Stitt said something about this to you as well! I suspect you spent too much time listening to Chapel Hill Sociologists and their marketing map of the New South. Fine, but they snobby flatlanders who don't understand 'dem 'dar hills. Just sayin'.

I take your introductory "it's my book" (xii) to heart. But Bro you can't have it both ways! Either's it's my idiosyncratically personal view of food in the South or it really is "The Ulitmate Food Lover's Guide to the South." They definitely t'ain't the same thing. But I will give you a pass since you did at the least visit Roanoke and mention the Texas Tavern (242–43). My Mom told me tales of dropping by there after school for takeout through the window. Proper young ladies did not enter such establishments in the Fifties. But they also preferred Perry Como to Elvis Aron Presley. Can't win 'em all!

While this books in an important part of Edge's culinary legacy. it is but one leg of a tripos. Lest we forget, Edge is also an accomplished journalist/editor working with such diverse publications as Gourmet, Southern Living, The Oxford American (out of Little Rock strangely enough) and The New York Times. Finally and most importantly he is a scholar visionary, who brought forth the Southern Foodways Alliance as its first employee and long-time Director and who regularly holds court on the Square in Oxford: upstairs at City Grocery Bar or jawing with Currence downstairs over the classic Shrimp and Grits preparation. THIS will be his major legacy, especially all the good work folks did helping the Katrina recovery efforts vis-a-vis local NOLA restaurants like Willie Mae's Scotch House.

Veni, vidi, omnivori.

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