SYMPOSIUM

2012 Southern Foodways Symposium
October 19—21, 2012
Delta Divertissement
October 18—19, 2012

Click here for the event bibliography.

The fifteenth Southern Foodways symposium was held October 19–21, 2012, in and around the town of Oxford and on the campus of the University of Mississippi. The Delta Divertissement, in its tenth year, took place October 18–19 in nearby Greenwood and Cleveland. Both events explored the culture of barbecue.

Ten years back, the SFA staged its first barbecue-focused symposium. (James Willis, whose portrait tops this page, won that year’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award.) In the intervening decade, we’ve learned a lot. And we’re ready to share that knowledge.

It’s still true that much dialogue about barbecue focuses on tradition and intransigence. Yet barbecue, like all products of culture, is not static. It evolves. And so do we. In that spirit, the SFA dedicated 2012 to revisiting the subject, adding new oral histories and films to our archive, while immersing ourselves in continuing barbecue education.

Barbecue speaks to the past, present, and future of the South. Stories of pitmasters—of the places they work, the smoke they conjure, the sauces they stir—evoke larger-picture American narratives of race, class, gender, labor, power, and community.

We booked speakers who look at barbecue through lenses that include animal husbandry, workers’ rights, cultural geography, literature, food science, and identity politics.

Eaters at the 2012 Southern Foodways Symposium were schooled in Southern barbecue traditions. From Brunswick stew to banana pudding, we hit the high notes, while traveling from Texas to the Carolinas and from Mexico to Memphis.

The pig got its due. But so did other beasts. We reveled in smoke-perfumed oysters, cows, fish, and fowl. And yes, just in case you’re wondering—we did serve vegetables.

SYMPOSIUM HIGHLIGHTS

THURSDAY

THACKER MOUNTAIN RADIO broadcasts a special edible edition live from the Lyric Theater

CARNIVORE’S DELIGHT DINNER dished by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo at Bouré on the Square

FRIDAY

DESAYUNO TEJANO, featuring brisket breakfast tacos from Texans Lolo Garcia and Tim Byres

THE POLITICS OF PROTEIN AND TOMATOES, in which workers’ rights activist Greg Asbed, cattleman Will Harris, and pig preservationist Nick Pihakis hold forth

TED OWNBY AND GLENN HOPKINS WELCOME all to Barbecue Nation

RANDALL KENAN explains why it is that, in the South, “pigs are us”

COZY ANDREW MICHAEL CORNER LUNCH presented by the Order of the Okra, cooked by Andy Ticer and Mike Hudman, with guest of honor Desiree Robinson

THE PIG IS THE PLACE TO START, argues Mark Essig

AND THEN YOU CASE THE JOINT, says Robert Moss

MONIQUE TRUONG AND JOHN DUFRESNE offer literary love letters to two beloved barbecue joints

COCKTAIL PARTY, featuring farm-fresh bites from Whitney Otawka and bathtub drinks from spirit savant Greg Best

EGERTON AWARD presentation for food-world work on social and environmental justice

SMOKE-SCREEN(ING) OF A DOCUMENTARY, honoring the 2012 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award winner, presented by Randy Fertel

THE BEST SCHOOL BUS RIDE YOU’VE EVER TAKEN, eight miles south down a dark country road

TAYLOR GROCERY CATFISH FEED, featuring Lynn Hewlett, master of the fry basket and saltshaker

WITH COLD-SMOKED, BUTTER-SIZZLED OYSTERS served on the porch by New Orleans seafood shaman Tenney Flynn

SATURDAY

PASTRAMI BISCUIT BREAKFAST, featuring Sheila and Matt Neal, who smoke their own and dare you to remain a ham biscuit purist

EDDIE HUANG raps about barbecue, bao, and Taiwanese-Southern identity

BARBECUE AND TRUANCY have long inspired George Singleton

ELDER(ISH) STATESMEN LOLIS ELIE AND JOHN EGERTON proclaim the state of the barbecue union

A COMMONWEALTH PRIMER on Kentucky barbecue from Wes Berry

BARBACOA is the future, says Gustavo Arellano

SLOW-SMOKED INVOCATION by barbecue bard Jake Adam York

VIKING RANGE LUNCHEON featuring Ashley Christensen, the supreme pot stirrer

WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THOSE RIBS? Alton Brown puts on his lab coat and tells us

LINCOLN-DOUGLAS BARBECUE DEBATE featuring scribes Wright Thompson and Brett Martin

BAROQUE BITES from Drew Robinson whet our palates

BILTMORE TOAST to the SFA’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award winner

LODGE CAST IRON FEED by a cavalcade of smoked-meat masters, featuring Tim Byres, Samuel Jones, Patrick Martin, and Ed Mitchell

SHARDE THOMAS AND THE RISING STAR FIFE AND DRUM CORPS fan the flames

SUNDAY

BENEDICTION by Jake Adam York

GRIME AND GLORY: PITMASTER PUPPETRY from Lyon Hill and Kimi Maeda

TABASCO BRUNCH, in which Ryan Prewitt asks—and answers—the question, “How do you barbecue a fish?”

DELTA HIGHLIGHTS

THURSDAY

BAPTIST TOWN BARBECUE featuring ribs from Greenwood favorite Spooney Kenter and sides by Taylor Bowen Ricketts

WRIGHT THOMPSON waxes sweet and savory on his lifelong love affair with Delta foodways

DOWN ON DOCKERY FARM, where the blues was arguably born, Gentle Lee Rainey and McKay Dockery Clark will talk history

TAMALES, TALLBOYS, AND DANCING with music by Jimbo Mathus and the Tristate Coalition, paying tribute to blues great Charley Patton

FATBACK PIG PROJECT PIT DINNER, featuring whole hog from Rodney Scott and green, leafy things from Elizabeth Heiskell

JUKE TIME at Po’ Monkey’s Lounge with Willie Seaberry

FRIDAY

BREAKFAST AND A MOVIE featuring Joe York’s new feature, Pride and Joy

HOST AND DONORS

Host for the symposium is the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Contributors to our efforts include Bouré, Chisholm Foundation, City Grocery, Collier and McKeel Distillery, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Mississippi, Fatback Collective, Foodways Texas, Honey Bee Bakery, LOFT Foundation, Lyric Theater, and Media and Documentary Projects at the University of Mississippi.

Also supporting the cause are Mississippi Delta Community College Culinary School, Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery, R&B Feder Charitable Foundation for the Beaux Arts, Southside Gallery, Tuck Beckstoffer Wines, Wellspring Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and Zingerman’s.

The primary donors that support the Southern Foodways Symposium are:

Anson Mills
Biltmore Estate Wine Company
Blackberry Farm Taste of the South
Fertel Foundation
Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
Lodge Manufacturing
McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco® Brand Products
Mountain Valley Spring Water
Order of the Okra
Piggy Bank Dinner Series
Royal Cup Coffee
Stir the Pot Dinner Series
Taqueria del Sol
Viking Range