Southern Food Gets Christopher Columbus-ed

So much of our national culture—food, music, dance—has come from the South. Where would American dance be without Jane Brown? Where would American music be without Robert Johnson, the Delta blues player? Where would American modern food be now if you didn’t have grits and fried chicken and biscuits on every menu around the country, from fine dining restaurants to fast food establishments?

But what happens if these cultural expressions become so generic as to no longer be associated with anywhere in particular?

Lolis Eric Elie explores in this episode of Gravy. Listen here.

Use the resources below to dig deeper.

About the producer

Lolis Eric Elie is a New Orleans born, Los Angeles based writer and filmmaker. Most recently, he joined the writing staff of the AMC television show, Hell on Wheels. Before that, he wrote for the HBO series Treme. Working with the award-winning director Dawn Logsdon, he co- produced and wrote the PBS documentary, Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.

A former columnist for The Times-Picayune and contributing writer to The Oxford American, he is the author of Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country and co-producer and writer of Smokestack Lightning: A Day in the Life of Barbecue, the documentary based on that book. He is editor of Cornbread Nation 2: The Best of Southern Food Writing.

For more information, visit his website.


Elie, Lolis Eric. Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2005.

—. Cornbread Nation 2: The United States of Barbecue. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2009.

Lundy, Ronni. Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2016.

Reed, John Shelton. Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2008.


Thursday in Hell’s Half Acre from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

CUT/CHOP/COOK from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.



Late Hour Blues – Mance Lipscomb

Trouble In Mind – Chubby Wise

Down Yonder – Chubby Wise

Give It Up – Dr Michael White

Algiers Hoodoo Woman – Dr Michael White

Big Chief – Professor Longhair

Daydreamer – Los Hombres Calientes

Blues for the 29%ers – Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

Symphony in Riffs – Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra

Star Spangled Banner – Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra

Oral History

Southern BBQ Trail - SFA Documentary