Cornbread Nation 2015 Best of Southern Food Writing

For a dozen years, the Southern Foodways Alliance published Cornbread Nation, a semi-annual collection of the best writing about Southern foodways. We now bring you a curated digital compilation of the writing that stuck with us in 2015—words on Southern food that challenged, introduced new worlds, or found their way into dinnertime conversations.

Cap TThis selection of ten pieces represents an array of voices and publications. In addition to great food writing, we’ve included one great piece of food looking, in the form of a photo essay by Tom Rankin, and a piece of what we’ll call food listening—that is, Todd Kliman interviewing David Chang. We whittled our choices down from a slew of recommendations by SFA staff, and we hope you enjoy diving into these reads. (If you’re hungry for more, treat yourself to one—or all!—of the seven print editions of Cornbread Nation.)



Kiese Laymon for The Oxford American

“From six in the morning until five in the afternoon, five days a week, for thirty years, my Grandmama Catherine’s fingers, palms, and wrists wandered deep in the bellies of dead chickens.” Read more.

Edna Lewis and the Black Roots of American Cooking

Francis Lam for The New York Times Magazine

“Foods, Lewis argued, are always temporal, so all good tastes are special. And when you have only a few chances every year to make something, you make it well.” Read more.

 Gwendolyn Knapp on Tales of the Cocktail

Gwendolyn Knapp for Eater

“Here it was, my fourth day in town, and somebody was already setting my drink on fire at eight-thirty in the morning. At work.” Read more.


Jack Hitt for Saveur

“Some 50 years ago, turtle soup disappeared and, to most palates, now seems almost improbable verging on unacceptable. What happened?” Read more.


Rachel Martin for The Bitter Southerner

“For almost 70 years, hot chicken was made and sold primarily in Nashville’s black neighborhoods. I started to suspect the story of hot chicken could tell me something powerful about race relations in Nashville, especially as the city tries to figure out what it will be in the future.” Read more.


Todd Kliman for the Washingtonian

“I always want diametrically opposite things at the same time. To me, that’s balance.” Read more.



Tom Rankin for Southern Cultures

“I told him I wanted the catfish, that it was my first, that it was bigger, that I had caught it. We should keep what we caught, I explained.” Read more (pdf).


Cari Gervin for Eater

“At one point she tosses an apron my way and tells me to make the biscuits. It’s slightly ridiculous and utterly charming that anyone actually lives like this.” Read more.


Todd Price for The Times-Picayune

Ella Brennan stepped out of the car on Royal Street in front of Brennan’s, the family restaurant she had once managed as a young woman. She had not been inside for 40 years.” Read more.


Kevin Young for VQR

“Lusco’s continues to serve in its private, curtained booths, begun as a Prohibition necessity and maintained today. Its elegance is my favorite kind—fading, along with the memory of desegregation.” Read more.