2018 Southern Foodways Fall Symposium

Reading Food: From Menus to Soap Operas to Novels

Join us for the 21st Southern Foodways Symposium, staged October 11-13 in and around Oxford, Mississippi. Through lectures, meals, tastings, and experiences, SFA will use text and subtext to explore issues like racism and gender inequity that roil the South and the pleasures of social engagement that reflect our best instincts.

Our year of programming began in February in Birmingham, Alabama, when SFA staged a Winter Symposium on the power of transformative narratives.  In June, we traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, for our Summer Symposium, and explored the linkages between the land and literature.

SFA’s definition of literature is broad. It spans modern soap operas and menu narratives and narrative song cycles. Novels, nonfiction, and poetry, too. Appropriately, SFA has booked a diverse roster of speakers from many disciplines.

Stepping to the podium will be longtime collaborators like novelist Monique Truong, author of Bitter in the Mouth, who will speak of Lafcadio Hearn, the chronicler of Japan and New Orleans. Novelist Randall Kenan, who has lovingly chronicled his North Carolina postage stamp, will speak from the porch at Faulkner’s Rowan Oak about Ralph Ellison’s use of the yam as a symbol in the novel Invisible Man. Zandria Robinson, who teaches at Rhodes College and describes herself as a “Dirty South black feminist” and a “Zora-type ethnographer” will serve as your Symposium coach.

Well-curated food and drink augment lectures. Chef Nina Compton of Compere Lapin in New Orleans taps Caribbean folktales for Friday lunch inspiration. Saturday lunch, a grand SFA tradition, comes courtesy of Mashama Bailey, the pride of Savannah. Joe Stinchcomb, barman at St. Leo right here in Oxford, is our Cathead Bartender in Residence. Lindsay Autry, a first-time collaborator, travels from her Florida restaurant, The Regional Kitchen and Public House, to cook catfish on the front porch at Taylor Grocery.

To prepare for this weekend, SFA documentarians have traveled the region. Annemarie Anderson, our new lead oral historian, began a new project this year on female food journalists of the last two generations. Among the subjects are Marcelle Bienvenu of Louisiana, Susan Puckett of Georgia, and Kathleen Purvis of North Carolina. This weekend, you meet some of those oral history subjects. And you come face-to-face, through a range of SFA films by Ava Lowrey and collaborators, with some of our region’s unsung heroes and heroines.

For our art commission, underwritten by 21c Museum Hotels, SFA is collaborating with Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom of Ghost of a Dream, who are building a site-specific reading room where attendees may apprehend the building blocks of our food system.

Our 2018 performance commission, underwritten by the Cockayne Fund, was conceived and produced by Paul Burch. Trovatore: The Lives of Eugene Walter is a song-cycle narrative about the Mobile-born writer and bon vivant. Along with his WPA Ballclub, Paul performs the commision, with a few extra fillips, and attendees go home with a beautiful sleeved album.

SFA Twentieth Anniversary Celebration Continues

In July of 1999, John Egerton invited 49 others to join him to found the Southern Foodways Alliance. To commemorate our 20th anniversary, which we will mark at events over the next year, SFA has commissioned a series of founder documentaries. For this 21st symposium, we also welcome all past presidents of the organization to the stage to reflect on how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.

In 2018, SFA invites members and non-members to attend the fall symposium. SFA members may purchase tickets at the discounted price of $700; non-members may purchase tickets for $800. Tickets go on sale August 1. Members may purchase tickets beginning at 9 a.m. CT with a password emailed to them on July 30; the general public may purchase tickets beginning at 11 a.m. CT with no password required.

Because we pay all speakers and chefs, the SFA symposium is never cheap. We stage our events on a true break-even basis. Symposium fees do not underwrite oral histories, films, art commissions, or performance commissions. What you pay reflects the actual event costs SFA incurs.

SFA is committed to making our event accessible for all. Our Smith Symposium Fellows program continues to bring new and bold voices to the SFA table.

For travel planning purposes, note that the symposium begins with registration on Thursday afternoon, October 11, and concludes after dinner on Saturday night, October 13.

For guests interested in carpooling to the symposium, SFA has set up a ridesharing board. After you’ve purchased a ticket, contact info@southernfoodways.org to obtain a list of the attendees who have responded with interest.


In 2018, SFA invites members and non-members to attend the fall symposium.SFA members may purchase tickets at the discounted price of $700; non-members may purchase tickets for $800. At the time of ticket purchase, please have your guest’s name, contact information, and member status available, as this information will be required for purchase.

Registration opens Wednesday, August 1. The link to purchase tickets is herehttps://2018southernfoodwayssymposium.bpt.me  Note that registration may not be accomplished on a mobile device. Members may purchase tickets beginning at 9 a.m. CT with a password emailed to them on July 30; the general public may purchase tickets beginning at 11 a.m. CT without a password.

Tickets are refundable, minus a $150 cancellation fee, if the SFA is contacted by September 3. (Each time we sell and refund tickets SFA incurs hard dollar transaction fees.) No refunds after September 3.  To be fair to those on the waiting list, tickets may not be transferred. Please don’t ask us to make exceptions. We try our best to manage demand in an equitable way.

For travel planning purposes, note that the symposium begins with registration on Thursday afternoon, October 11, and concludes after dinner on Saturday night, October 13.


  • Tickets are priced $700 for members and $800 for nonmembers. Nonmembers who register at the discounted rate will be contacted to purchase a membership.
  • Have contact info for your guests before you start the transaction.
  • Tickets are nontransferable but are refundable minus a $150 cancellation fee, if SFA is contacted by September 3.  No refunds after September 3.
  • No more than four tickets may be purchased during any one transaction for members; no more than two tickets per transaction for nonmembers.
  • Tickets may not be purchased on mobile devices (due to questionnaire requirements).
  • We are unable to accept registration by phone.
  • Due to the nature of this event, we are unable to prepare or serve special meals for guests with dietary restrictions. Thank you for understanding.
  • If you log in to Brown Paper Tickets when ticket sales begin and get a “no tickets are available” message, try again in another 1-2 minutes. It is sometimes the case that buyers release the tickets in their transaction before purchase, sending those tickets back into the general inventory. No promises, but you might get lucky.
  • If tickets sell out, SFA will begin a waiting list for those interested in attending. Email info@southernfoodways.org with the number of tickets you’d like (max 2) to be placed on the list. In the interest of staff sanity, please do not request information about your exact placement on the wait list. Wednesday will be busy, and emails are time stamped for our future reference.


SFA has reserved blocks of rooms for attendees at these area hotels:

  • Courtyard by Marriott | 662-638-6014
  • The Graduate | 662-234-3031 (request to speak to the front desk at the Oxford property)
  • Inn at Ole Miss | 662-234-2331

We encourage you to reserve a room as soon as your ticket purchase is confirmed; availability is first come, first served, and the special rates expire September 10.

Other area hotels include:

  • Chancellor’s House | 662-371-1400
  • Comfort Inn | 662-234-6000
  • Days Inn | 662-234-9500
  • Hampton Inn Conference Center | 662-234-5565
  • Hampton Inn West (Jackson Ave.) | 662-232-2442
  • Hampton Inn East (Sisk Ave.) | 662-234-5565
  • Holiday Inn Express | 662-236-2500
  • Marriott TownPlace | 662-238-3522
  • Puddin’ Place | 662-234-1250
  • Super 8 | 662-234-7013
  • The 5 Twelve B&B | 662-234-8043
  • The Nests BnB | 662-236-7733
  • The Ravine | 662-234-4555
  • Air BnB
  • VRBO



Beasley, Sandra. Count the Waves, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2015.

Beasley, Sandra, editor. Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance, The University of Georgia Press, 2018.

Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, Scribner, 2004.

Fehribach, Paul. The Big Jones Cookbook, The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Fennelly, Beth Ann. Heating & Cooling, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2017.

Ferris, Marcie Cohen. The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Hannaham, James. Delicious Foods, Little, Brown and Company, 2015.

Harriell, Derrick. Stripper in Wonderland, LSU Press, 2017.

Howard, Ravi. Driving the King, HarperCollins, 2015.

Hunter, Marcus Anthony, and Zandria Robinson. Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life, University of California Press, 2018.

Kenan, Randall, editor. The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food, Eno Publishers, 2016.

Kenan, Randall. The Fire This Time, Melville House, 2007.

Ruthnum, Naben. Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race, Coach House Books, 2017.

Truong, Monique. The Sweetest Fruits, Viking Press, 2019.

Walter, Eugene and Katherine Clark. Milking the Moon, Untreed Reads, 2014.

White, Monica M. Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, The University of North Carolina Press, 2018.

Wilkerson, Jessica. To Live Here, You Have to Fight: How Women Led Appalachian Movements for Social Justice, University of Illinois Press, 2019.

Young, Kevin. Brown, Penguin Random House, 2018.

Zhang, Mei. Travels Through Dali: with a leg of ham, Penguin Australia, 2016.



Bailey, Mashama. “The Mentor I Never Met.” Cherry Bombe, July 2018.

Balter, Emma. “Sommelier Talk: Andy Chabot’s Wine Oasis in Moonshine Country.” Wine Spectator, 15 July 2016.

Endolyn, Osayi. “Mixed History.” Gravy, Summer 2018.

Frías, Carlos. “There’s a New Reason to Drive to Palm Beach for Dinner.” Miami Herald, 6 September 2016.

Hardaway, Mary Scott. “Life Raft Treats Is Popping Up All Over Charleston with Cool, Nostalgia-Inducing Ice Cream.” Charleston City Paper.

Kessler, John. “AJC Food Writer John Kessler Looks Back at 18 Years.” AJC.com, 30 July 2015.  

Kessler, John. “Pimento Cheese in a Parka.” Gravy, Summer 2016.

Martin, Brett. “Nina Compton: Hare Apparent in New Orleans.” Garden & Gun, December 2017/January 2018.

Price, Todd A. “Meet Kelly Fields, the James Beard-Nominated Pastry Chef of Willa Jean.” NOLA.com, 28 April 2017.

Reese, Ashanté M. “The Roots of Food Inequalities.” Gravy, Winter 2016.

Simpkins, John. “Praise Wine.” Cornbread Nation 5: The Best of Southern Food Writing, UGA Press, 2010.



Ghost of a Dream [Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom]

Paul Burch


Yes Ma’am



Andrea Reusing and Miguel Torres. SFA Oral History Project. 7 September 2011.

Bill on Bill. University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture documentary featuring Bill Griffiths and Rowan Oak, 2016.

Cutting Chai. Chai Pani culinary documentary featuring Meherwan Irani and Friends, 2015.

Eat or We Both Starve. SFA film profiling Lynn and Debbie Hewlett of Taylor Grocery.

Ghost of a Dream. SFA film profiling Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom, 2018.

Mashama Bailey Takes the Bus Station. SFA film profiling Chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey.

Morsels. Culinary series featuring Dan Latham.

Queen Sugar. OWN television series by Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Monica Macer, 2016.

“William Faulkner’s Home Illustrates His Impact on the South.” NPR, 13 February 2017.

Happening Around Oxford

SFA Happening Around Town
Symposium 2018
Compiled by Rebecca Lauck Cleary, communications specialist at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture

Click here to download the Happening Around Oxford schedule as a .pdf file.

Oxford may only have a population of a little more than 20,000 people, but there is always something to do. The next few days are no exception, whether it’s a concert, an art gallery opening, or even an arts and music festival. In other words, there’s no reason to stay in your hotel room and watch free cable once SFA Symposium programming ends.


Thursday, October 11

Proud Larry’s, 211 S Lamar Blvd., 9 p.m.

The Nude Party from the Southern mountain town of Boone, NC, has a stripped-down and bare-bones sound, akin to the British Invasion being transplanted back into the Carolina mountains.

The Lyric, 1006 Van Buren Ave., 8 p.m.

Cody Johnson’s smoky baritone and ultra-Southern enunciations give him a voice as uniquely identifiable as country kingpins Jason Aldean or Tim McGraw. Johnson conveys a Texas-proud swagger, a real-man charm and an unwavering honesty about who he is, where he comes from, and where he hopes to go. His “Cowboy Like Me” debuted in the Top 10 on the Billboard Country Albums chart in January 2014.


Friday, October 12

Proud Larry’s, 211 S Lamar Blvd., 9 p.m.

Sarahfest with And the Echo and Mattie Thrasher

For the fourth year, Sarahfest, the annual arts and music festival organized by the University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, hosts a series of events showcasing live music, film, and art installations to celebrate and embrace diversity in the community, state, and region. On Friday, local musician Mattie Thrasher and local band And the Echo co-headline a concert at Proud Larry’s to celebrate LGBTQ History Month. And the Echo has been a fixture in the Oxford music scene since its formation in 2014. The duo, Morgan Pennington and Winn McElroy, write, record, and produce their music to create a unique sound that blends of 80s synth-pop with ethereal vocals and a distinctly warped space-time continuum. Mattie Thrasher was raised in Madison, Mississippi, and began performing at coffee shops in Oxford. Her style as a singer/songwriter is increasingly ambient and ethereal.

The Library, 120 S 11th St., 10 p.m.

Pensacola, Florida’s MoJiles are known for their powerful live performances. The band hails from the Gulf Coast yet features members from all over the world, and brings an energetic mix of Top 40 country hits, 80’s rock, 70’s classics, and Top 40 dance.  (MoJiles will perform again on Saturday night, same venue and time.)


Saturday, October 13

The 12th annual One Night Stand at The Ole Miss Motel is set for Saturday, October 13. Twelve artists take over twelve motel rooms for one night only, transforming each room into a temporary gallery. There is a special paid preview hour from 5:00-6:00 p.m., where you will get a chance to buy art before anyone else. Food and drinks will be included in the special preview hour. Then from 6:00–9:00 p.m., it is a free, family friendly event. Tickets are available at ameliapresents.com.

Proud Larry’s, 211 S Lamar Blvd, 9 p.m.

Redefining the possibilities of modern music, The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round things out, with each providing a distinct musical background deeply rooted in the New Orleans jazz scene. Their debut EP 1984 featured an eclectic array of guest collaborators such as Mr. Lif and Ivan Neville—successfully creating an auditory canvas to forge The Russ Liquid Test’s irresistibly soulful future-vintage stylings.


Sunday, October 14

The Lyric, 1006 Van Buren Ave, 6 p.m.

If you happen to stick around town Sunday night, you can catch Todd Snider.

For years, Todd Snider has been one of the most beloved country-folk singers in the country. In the nineties, he had a top forty hit with “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” which gave national audiences the first taste of his brilliantly insightful songwriting voice. At once satirical and sincere, Snider was an American original from the start.


All Weekend

Southside Gallery, 150 Courthouse Square

Blair Hobbs, Adrienne David, Lee Harper, and Jack Barbera showcase their latest artwork.

Art Around Town

If you notice the sculptures around town, they are George Tobolowsky’s series of metal sculptures, A Long Road Back. They range from abstract winding forms to representational subjects. The artist’s incorporation of bold colors and found metal scraps create delightfully unexpected outcomes that pay tribute to modernist sculpture. Artwork appears in front of the University Museum on the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street; at The Graduate Hotel, 400 N. Lamar Blvd.;  The Inn at Ole Miss, 120 Alumni Dr.; FNC Inc., 1214 Office Park Dr.; Baptist Memorial Hosptial, 1100 Belk Blvd.; the Green Roof Lounge at the Courtyard by Marriott, 305 Jackson Ave. East; South Lamar Court, 101 S. Lamar Ct.; Oxford Canteen, 766 N. Lamar Blvd.; and Rowan Oak, 915 Old Taylor Road.

Event Presenters

Annemarie Anderson is SFA’s oral historian. In ten months, she has visited seven states to gather the stories of female food journalists.

Lindsay Autry is the chef of The Regional in West Palm Beach, Florida. She’s a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University.

Mashama Bailey is the chef and co-owner of The Grey in Savannah. Growing up, she traveled south from her native New York City to spend summers with her grandmother in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Sandra Beasley is the Washington, DC­–based author of three collections of poetry and one memoir about food allergies. She is the editor of Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Valerie Boyd is the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence and an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism. The author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, she is currently editing the journals of Alice Walker.

Paul Burch is a Nashville-based Americana musician and songwriter. His 2016 album, Meridian Rising, is an imagined autobiography of Jimmie Rodgers.

Andy Chabot is food and beverage director as well as the sommelier at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. In 2017, Knoxville Business Journal named Chabot one of its “40 Under 40” young leaders.

Katherine Clark was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after her mother went into labor at an Alabama homecoming football game. She is the author of four novels and three as-told-to biographies, including one about Eugene Walter.

Nina Compton is the chef at Compère Lapin in New Orleans. A native of St. Lucia, she named the restaurant after the mischevious “Brother Rabbit” of Caribbean folktales.

Paul Fehribach is the chef at Big Jones in Chicago. A native of southern Indiana, he is a spiritual and culinary Southerner.

Kelly Fields is the chef of Willa Jean, a bakery and café in New Orleans, where she turns out next-level biscuits and sates the continuing thirst for frosé. She is a 2018 fellow in the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Multimedia installation artists Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom make up the collective Ghost of a Dream. They once built a replica Hummer H3 from discarded lottery tickets.

Bill Griffith is the curator of Rowan Oak, the former home of William Faulkner in Oxford, Mississippi. As a teenager, he once commandeered a milk truck from his family’s dairy farm to go to an Ozzy Osborne concert.

James Hannaham is the author of two novels: God Says Noand Delicious Foods, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. He teaches writing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Derrick Harriell is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Stripper in Wonderland. He directs the MFA program at the University of Mississippi.

Lynn and Debbie Hewlett of Taylor Grocery are, according to many, the nation’s premier fryers of catfish.

Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, the first of which, Like Trees, Walking, won the 2008 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

Meherwan Irani is the chef of Chai Pani, with locations in Decatur, Georgia, and Asheville, North Carolina. He is a member of the “Desi Dream Team,” a group of South Asian American chefs who host the Brown in the South dinner series.

Randall Kenan is a writer of fiction and nonfiction who teaches creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill. He spoke on hog fornication at the SFA’s 2012 barbecue symposium.

John Kessler is the former restaurant critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Shortly after relocating to Chicago, he wrote about “Pimento Cheese in a Parka” and other Windy City attempts at Southern food for Gravy.

Dan Latham is a salumist, restaurateur, and chef. Oxonians still miss L&M, the Italian restaurant he shuttered in 2008, but as of late they can drown their sorrows at Saint Leo, where he developed the menu with owner Emily Blount.

Ava Lowrey is SFA’s Pihakis Documentary Filmmaker. To the dismay of many of her coworkers, she is a fan of Alabama football and Duke basketball.

Van Nolintha is the owner of Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda in Raleigh, North Carolina. A native of Luang Prabang, Laos, he moved to North Carolina at the age of twelve to live with family friends and attend school.

Ashanté Reese is an SFA Smith Symposium Fellow. She earned her PhD in anthropology at American University and teaches courses in anthropology and food studies at Spelman College.

Zandria Robinson, a native Memphian, teaches sociology at Rhodes College. She is the author of This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South.

Naben Ruthnum, the author of Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race, lives in Toronto, Ontario. His most recent book is the thriller Find You in the Dark, written under the pseudonym Nathan Ripley.

John Simpkins is a lawyer, diplomatic consultant, and political analyst. He co-founded the Center for a Better South and serves on the SFA’s John Egerton Prize committee.

Joe Stinchcomb directs the bar program at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi. A master of balance, he makes some of Oxford’s best cocktails.

Miguel Torres is chef de cuisine at Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A native of Celaya, Guanajato, Torres blends Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients.

Monique Truong is the author of two novels, Bitter in the Mouth and The Book of Salt. She is at work on a third, The Sweetest Fruits, whose main character is the nineteenth-century journalist Lafcadio Hearn.

Monica White is an associate professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores agricultural resistance, food insecurity, and the agricultural dimension of the African American freedom movement from the Reconstruction era to the present.

Jessica Wilkerson teaches history and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. She is at work on a book about feminist activism in the Appalachian South.

Cynthia Wong created the cult-favorite phatty cake, a gingerbread cookie sandwich with mascarpone cream filling. Her newest venture is Life Raft Treats, an ice cream cart in Charleston, South Carolina.

Joe York is an independent filmmaker who has collaborated with the SFA for more than fifteen years. Ask him about “Mesothelioma Manor,” his ambitious home-renovation project.

Kevin Young is poetry editor of The New Yorker and the director of New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Almost obnoxiously prolific, Young probably wrote his next collection in the time it took you to read these bios.

Mei Zhang is the author of Travels Through Dali with a Leg of Ham. A native of Yunnan province, she is a founder and the CEO of the travel company WildChina.