The State of Southern Food

October 25-28, 2007

The 10th annual Southern Foodways Symposium examined the state of Southern food. We pondered where we have been. And where we are going. We assayed our field of study. We thought critically about the SFA’s role in documenting and celebrating the diverse food cultures of the American South. We paid homage to the subjects of our oral history initiative. And we repaid debts of pleasure earned over generations.

Shirley Corriher offered a class in the science of cooker; Atlanta’s Refugee Family Services shared a workshop on how communal cooking serves as a bridge for new immigrants; and a panel discussion, channeled by members who were with us at the beginning, reflected on the history of the symposium.

There was talk about the State of the Plate: meat, veggies, and—of course—cake. Ted Breaux taught us how absinthe, the green fairy, lit up Southern cocktail culture, and Dave Wondrich toasted us with the history of New Orleans’ signature sazerac. Sandy Oliver, Charles Joyner, and others offered an alimentary education, reflecting on the state of food studies, and all the race, class, and gender politics therein.

Of course, we ate well. In 2007, the year of the pig, we saluted all things swine. Whole hog barbecue, doused with a vinegar sauce. Not to mention boudin, gratons, and bacon. And pig ears in mustard sauce. Emerging ethnicity matters to us, too. We dished tacos pollo frito. And refried black-eyed peas, spiked with Tabasco. For dessert, Sean Brock wrapped our mind’s palate around the promise of boiled peanut cotton candy.