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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Dorothy Finister

Two Sisters Restaurant, named by a previous owner, is actually run by three sisters and one brother—and their mother, Dorothy Finister. A Finister family operation since 1972, the business is a breakfast and lunch destination secreted in a residential New Orleans neighborhood that hasn’t quite recovered from the flooding it sustained following Hurricane Katrina, and the failed federal levee system, in 2005. Which means that on most weekdays, Two Sisters’ dining room is the happiest place for blocks.

Members of the New Orleans Police Department lunch on fried chicken and smothered pork chops. Musicians roll out of bed for neck bones at noon. Men and women in business suits and paint-splattered work clothes commune over shrimp and okra stew, red beans and rice, and smothered cabbage. And, of course, gumbo. Available only on Fridays and Saturdays, servings of Two Sisters’ gumbo are epic bowls of shrimp, crab, fresh hot sausage, chicken giblets, okra, filé, bay leaves, thyme, and a jumble of other offerings from the seasoning aisle. Each bowl comes with a side of potato salad, which some diners dump directly into their gumbo. Miss Dorothy, who agrees that potato salad is an essential gumbo accompaniment, keeps hers on the side.

Two Sisters closed in 2012.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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