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This Week's Various

Saturday, May 24, 2014

As always, all images here copyright DeepFriedKudzu unless otherwise noted.

Red Velvet Cake
The NYT on Red Velvet Cake: A Classic, Not a Gimmick and for all the started-in-the-South vs. started-at-the-Waldorf, sounds like Waldorf wins:
Erin Allsop, the archivist at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, did some sleuthing and places the debut of the cake at the Waldorf in the 1930s, though some Southern cake historians believe that story is more legend than fact. It would later appear as a specialty of the fancy Eaton’s department store in Toronto, credited as a favorite of Lady Eaton.

Meanwhile, in Austin, Tex., John A. Adams was getting rich selling vanilla and food dyes. He and his wife, Betty, ate the cake at the Waldorf, said Sterling Crim, the managing partner and chief marketing officer for the Adams Extract Company...

Mr. Crim said that through company histories and interviews with former employees, the company traced the red velvet cake back to that trip to the Waldorf. “That’s the cake that started us down this path.”

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The NYTMagazine had The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie: On the Trail of the Phantom Women who Changed American Music and then Vanished Without a Trace on its cover last month.  It was *beautifully* written.  Just beautifully written.  And the online version is terrifically polished with interviews and music -- just so sharp.  Just the fact that this subject was done so well was a thrill -- except that there were some seriously questionable ethics that went into the whole thing.  In part:
I don’t know if Mack will be angry. Certainly, during the months we worked on this, there were times when I felt angry at him. It would happen every time we heard (and we heard it over and over): “I wish you’d gotten here” — fill in a number — “years ago! So-and-so could have told you all about her.” I would shake my fist at Mack a little inside. Thief of souls! If we had known about this discovery in 1961 — or in ’71, ’81, ’91, ’01, or even 2011 — our knowledge of these two artists would be larger by an order of magnitude, and we might have a real notion of Lillie Mae, instead of coordinates. And yet Mack was the only reason we found any of it. The dualism of the man was defeating, finally. It can’t have been easy for him to carry.

A couple of weeks later, McCormick's daughter told the New York Observer that she was 'appalled' by the story:
“John Jeremiah Sullivan and Caitlin Love wormed their way into the home of an elderly invalid under the guise of ‘helping him,’” Ms. McCormick said, alluding to the research assistant who helped Mr. Sullivan acquire the documents via “quasi theft,” as Mr. Sullivan put it, “then proceeded to rifle through his files and help themselves to his research, his photographs and his personal possessions. There is no disputing these facts because Sullivan admitted as much in his own article.”

Then, the author of the original NYTMagazine article, John Jeremiah Sullivan, wrote an open letter that appeared in the Observer to respond to McCormick's daughter's criticism:
Susannah McCormick has used the word “thievery” to describe my quotation of her father’s research. I would submit that, by hiding L. V. Thomas’s voice, by refusing for over half a century to credit or even so much as name the two singers who created those recordings while they or their contemporaries were alive, Mack McCormick committed a theft—through negligence or writer’s block or whatever reasons of his own—far graver than my citation of interviews L.V. granted him decades ago. I don’t think he could help it. I tried to write that too.

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Dallas Magazine: The Unbelievable Story of Pecan Lodge (btw, they're now -- as of this week -- at Deep Ellum).  And it all starts with a (bad) pick-up line at a bar.

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Thanks to Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) the reinstatement of National Seersucker Day (June 11) will be celebrated.  Haspel approves.

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Yes: Flannery O'Connor reads 'A Good Man is Hard to Find'


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TripAdvisor put out a press release stating that of the 'Top 10 US States for BBQ'...Georgia is #1 (Franklin in Austin is #1 'BBQ Joint' though).

So Travel + Leisure puts out their list of America's Best Cities for Barbecue, and who gets #1?  Nashville.  Well, that ruffles some feathers so Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker in Nashville has this to say, in part:

I have had a lot of different Q over the years. I like it in Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Kentucky and most other places I have tried it. I don’t care how it’s cooked, what type of wood or if you use a commercial smoker, what matters is the end product.

You know, I didn’t even see a brisket until I was probably 21 but I just got back from cooking with a good friend down in Texas and had some incredible beef and lamb brisket. No less BBQ than we cook here in Tennessee, just different.


Meanwhile, Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur is interviewed about his new book, Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster's Secrets and one of the best things he talks about are the idea of barbecue regions:
Yes, the north Alabama region (laughs). It’s been widely written out that there are four barbecue regions. North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City and Texas. So the general answer to that would be to pick one of those regions. But there are so many areas in the U.S. that are forgotten, or can’t be shoe-horned into those regions. And I think that’s what they did – a writer a long time ago probably just was trying to make something clear and concise, to just say this is it. And everybody accept it. Well they’re wrong! How about Kentucky and mutton, how about north Alabama and the whole chickens with barbecue white sauce? And all the places in between that do a combination of vinegar sauces and thick tomato based sauces. There’s so many different regions in the country, and you can’t just shoehorn everything into the four major regions.

And...Chris Lilly just brought home the fourth grand championship from Memphis in May.

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It's King Biscuit Time (since 1941), from Helena, Arkansas!  This month, they celebrated their 17,000th show, but don't have your speakers up too loud when you click on the latest show.  Yes, yes, yes!

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If seeing someone embalmed on display with a boa around her neck, a champagne glass in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other would make you uncomfortable, don't click here for Mickey Easterling's celebration at the Saenger. Her obituary, in part:

EASTERLING Marycathyrn "Mickey" Easterling, noted philanthrophist, Patron of the Arts, and one of the last New Orleans "Grande Dames" of her generation, went peacefully to her eternal rest at home on April 14, 2014 after a lengthy illness. 

Her age? Mickey always said, "Age is a number, and mine's unlisted". 

Mickey was well-known in her beloved native city of New Orleans, as well as in many other cities noted for arts and culture, such as New York, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and her second favorite city of residence, Tangier, Morroco, where she spent a portion of each summer until health issues curtailed her travel. There she was noted for the wonderful and very well-attended parties and dinners she hosted for friends and acquaintances from around the world. She was a true Bon Vivant, living life to its fullest each day, bringing her energy and enthusiasm to all that she did. And she did a lot... 

In New Orleans, Mickey was often seen out and about at parties, dinners, cultural and charitable events, and at New Orleans' finest restaurants. She was always dressed in the latest fashions, champagne or wine glass in one hand, cigarette holder in the other, flashing her trademark smile, and wearing one of her seemingly innumerable dramatically creative hats she was known for. 

"Darling, don't be afraid to be original" Mickey Easterling

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West Virginia's public radio interviews Fred Sauceman on his new book, Buttermilk and Bible Burgers: More Stories from the Kitchens of Appalachia, in which he mentions dishes such as chicken mull and the banana croquettes of Kentucky.

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The Iron Horse bluegrass band from the Shoals did a cover of Elton John's 'Rocket Man' that is seriously good (esp picking up after the 1:00 mark):


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Mother Jones asks: Did Scientists Just Solve the Bee Collapse Mystery?

The USDA has a People's Garden, and at their building in Washington DC is a honey bee hive -- with live-cam (my kids are loving this).

Or you could watch a live-cam of the bears in Alaska eating salmon right now ('tis the season).

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The Bible of Barbecue by Tramontina is amazing:

The Bible of Barbecue — Tramontina from JWT Brasil on Vimeo.

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At xoJane.com: Why I'm Proud to Live in a Trailer Park
It's not where I thought I'd be at the age of 30, renting a trailer in a "mobile home community" in the plains of the Mississippi Delta.

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Putting this here, because growing up, going to L and N Seafood, Darryl's, Shogun, and Red Lobster -- all an hour drive from my small town -- seemed like haute cuisine. This from Business Week on what's wrong with Red Lobster:
The era of families sitting down to a meal conceived by food scientists and prepared in a kitchen they can’t see is fading.

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Maybe you've heard Jolene at 33rpm but this person took it and put in Dolly's voice at the correct speed and it's great.

Willie Nelson donated a collection to UT Austin.

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NPR does a piece called: Recall That Ice Cream Truck Song? We Have Unpleasant News For You and they are putting forth that what we think is simply 'Turkey in the Straw' is a newer, crazy-racist song set to that tune.  We passed an ice cream truck last week.  It was playing 'The Entertainer'.

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New renderings of the Cobb county Braves stadium have been released and this is quite possibly the best logo idea.

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Nashville Scene *really* likes the food at Catbird Seat, new chefs and all:
Now, be honest ... when they brought out the pig's tail, that's not what you had in mind, was it?

CF: Not a curlicue in sight. But I've been thinking about that two-ply finger-food ever since — caramelized-glass skin over molten meat, topped with gooseberries so tangy they could smack down the salty pork liquor. I guess describing that as "pork tail" is no more understated than what they call "red shrimp": a single raw-cold ruby-red shrimp draped with paper-thin kohlrabi, then followed by a chaser of its own head — like a mini-lobster, piped with velvety rouille and burnished with a blow torch — for you to clean out with your tongue.


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Red and Green Tomatoes, Jefferson County Farmer's Market, Birmingham AL
In the NYT: In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress.

Why are sugar cane workers in Central America dying?

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From The Atlantic: Slightly More than 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism (features from 2013)

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William Jennings Bryan Statue, Dayton TN
above: the William Jennings Bryan statue in Dayton

Where the Scopes trial took place in Dayton, Tennessee, now the NYT writes Bryan College is Torn: Can Darwin and Eden Coexist?:
Since Bryan College’s founding in 1930, its statement of belief, which professors have to sign as part of their employment contracts, included a 41-word section summing up the institution’s conservative views on creation and evolution, including the statement: “The origin of man was by fiat of G-d.” But in February, college officials decided that professors had to agree to an additional clarification declaring that Adam and Eve “are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms.”

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My friend, the author Andrew Dietz who wrote The Last Folk Hero: A True Story of Race and Art, Power and Profit messaged me about a piece he has in The Art Section on Lonnie Holley and his new music career.   In part:
If Charles Dickens had been born in Alabama instead of England, Oliver Twist may have been titled, Lonnie Holley. Holley’s childhood was downright Dickensian. Born in Birmingham, AL to a woman who ultimately birthed twenty-seven children, Holley was stolen from her when he was not yet two-years-old. He was sold for a bottle of booze at age four and then beaten and mistreated by the tyrant of the whiskey house into which he had been traded. Hoping to escape, he ran into the street at age seven and was struck by a car, dragged beneath and then confined to bed for three months’ recovery. Later, he ran away again, fell asleep on top of an idling train and woke up hours later in New Orleans. Finally, a scuffle with the law led to his imprisonment at a brutal youth detention center outside of Auburn, AL.

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Food and Wine put '8 Amazing New Grill Restaurants' in their June print issue, and two of them haven't opened yet, one of them being 'Ovenbird' by Hot and Hot's Chris Hastings -- now scheduled for November.  Doesn't it need to be open before you know it's amazing?

It's a little like how several months ago, Southern Living did a feature on 'The South's Best Cheap Eats Under $10, and one of the choices was Big Bad Breakfast in Birmingham which wasn't even open yet, missed their May date, and now it sounds like June before they're open.

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So happy to see that Louise Neal's New Orleans Birthday Cake Project was 200+% funded on Kickstarter.

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This is something: The Faulkner Truthers from The Awl:
He (William Faulkner) dropped out of high school; he dropped out of college. He corresponded with no mentor, belonged to no literary school or circle. How on earth, then, did he manage to develop the weirdly blazing brilliance of his syntactic rhythms, the wild catalogue of his narrative and stylistic innovations, his piercingly accurate sensitivity to human feeling and to the special qualities of life in the South? He didn't have the remotest idea. In a letter written in his mid-fifties to the novelist Joan Williams, with whom he was in love, Faulkner wrote: "[N]ow I realise for the first time what an amazing gift I had: uneducated in every formal sense, without even very literate, let alone literary, companions, yet to have made the things I made. I don't know where it came from."

To make or to find a key to the source of Faulkner's inspiration, then, would be a lifetime achievement for a literary scholar...


Oh -- and 'Spotted Horses' by Faulkner, one of his short stories, can be read online here.

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Jimmy Carter had a dog in the White House named 'Grits'.

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Just for fun:

PIXELS by Patrick Jean from ONE MORE on Vimeo.

And the world's largest Rubik's cube is at the Holiday Inn in Knoxville.

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Amish Community of Mississippi
At NPR's The Salt: Amish Leave Pennsylvania for Greener, Less Touristy Pastures:
Where are they headed? To western New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Tennessee, parts of the country where the Amish are much more isolated. Back in Lancaster, Kraybill said, they're running businesses where they deal with non-Amish all day, where their kids interact with technology and where they speak English rather than Pennsylvania Dutch — all of which threatens their lifestyle.

"The big danger is that the Amish here become so assimilated they end up not being Amish," Kraybill said.


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Old Monroe County Courthouse - To Kill A Mockingbird
Nelle Harper Lee has rejected the settlement agreement against the Monroe County Heritage Museum, and her lawyer this week asked a judge to reinstate the lawsuit, which he did.  The new court date is in November.

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George Wallace donated the clothes he was wearing when he was shot in 1972 to the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

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Rural Studio Projects
Slate runs an excerpt from the new book Rural Studio at Twenty: Designing and Building in Hale County, Alabama.

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Wright Dairy Drive-Thru, Alexandria AL
Disappointed to learn that the Buttermilk Trail in Richmond isn't a listing of dairies making my favorite beverage.

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Cornbread
Bloomberg BusinessWeek on America's Last King of Cast Iron Finds His Time Has Come Again:
Over the next two days, the population of South Pittsburg will grow ninefold, as 26,000 visitors convene for the cornbread celebration. Along with the cook-off, highlights include cornbread-eating and buttermilk-chugging contests as well as “cornbread alley,” a nine-pieces-for-$4 smorgasbord. At the end of the weekend, eight girls ages 2 through 17 will win a Miss National Cornbread Festival title.

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Mason jars and mustaches hold hands while jumping the shark at 7-11.

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The Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table (protesting the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act) is written up in the NYT.  It's going to be June 13 at City Grit in NYC, and it's sold out:
In a celebration of inclusion, equality, and the shared sense of community that the culinary world embodies every day, Southern culinary talents, John Currence, Kelly English, Art Smith, Scott Peacock, Bill Smith, Dwayne Ingraham and Virginia Willis will come together with NYC’s own stars Douglas Quint, Bryan Petroff and Aarón Sánchez to serve a unique menu of traditional – yet progressive, modern and open-minded – southern fare.

...in support of the state’s LGBT community, to promote acceptance and equality and celebrate the contributions the LGBT community has made to the state’s creative offerings.

Money raised from the event, and all actionable items will go towards the Pride Network on the campuses of the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State.


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Love that my friend Michael Twitty has a deal with HarperCollins to write a book (out early '16) called 'The Cooking Gene' -- he explains it is '...a woven narrative that began with The Southern Discomfort Tour in 2012, and continued into 2013 as I made more rounds around the South. The more I traveled and researched the more I discovered that we Americans and we, the Southern people were intimately connected by culture, food and kinship–both real and fictive. The chances that the white, black and brown people I encountered were relatives kept increasing. My notion of family–genealogists, living history interpreters, descendants of the same plantations, descendants of major slaveholders, fellow Jews, newly arrived immigrants from Mexico and Vietnamese market growers in New Orleans–expanded until my arms could not hold all of the humanity I was embracing. My DNA results, which keep coming in–also show links to Africa and Europe and communities around the world where those cousins went not so very long ago. And all the while, food remains the glue.'

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Frios Gourmet Pops, Gadsden AL
Super-enjoyed Frios Gourmet Pops in downtown Gadsden, Alabama a couple of weeks ago, where among the flavors we had was muscadine from the Wills Creek Vineyard around Attalla.

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Waffle House
Maybe you saw the selfie of Bubba Watson at Waffle House after his Masters win...he left a $148 tip.

Also at Waffle House: earlier this month, a man carrying a pitchfork robbed a Waffle House in Norcross.

Waffle Houses by latitude and Waffle Houses by density (we see you, Atlanta.)

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At NBC: Tale of Two Deltas: Poverty and Affluence Side by Side in Mississippi Town
At the NYT: Photographing, and Curing, the Blues in the Mississippi Delta

Also:
In My Backyard: Sin and Salvation in the Mississippi Delta by Matt Eich
New Delta Rising by Magdalena Sole
Near the Cross: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta by Tom Rankin

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A picture of Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty at Yaddo in 1941.

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AMERICAN JESUS (TEASER) from Aram Garriga on Vimeo.
The NYT critic Neil Genzliger really does not like the new documentary 'American Jesus':
It’s not clear what Aram Garriga thinks he is accomplishing in his simplistic “American Jesus,” but he’s not accomplishing much. Whatever hopes you might have had that this Spanish filmmaker would be able to do for American Christianity what another outsider, Alexis de Tocqueville, did for America as a whole are dashed as soon as the snake-handling minister shows up.

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Restaurant R'evolution, New Orleans LA
Restaurant R'evolution in New Orleans is expanding.  John Folse and Rick Tramonto have announced that they will open Seafood R'evolution in Ridgeland (just outside Jackson MS), and it's under construction.

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From the Kickstarter campaign:

The NYPost on Mark Landis from Laurel, Mississippi, who has donated his forgeries to Southern museums mostly: The Schizophrenic Art Forger Who Duped Museums For Decades

Also: Landis piece in The New Yorker
in the NYTimes
in Maxim
in The Art Newspaper
in New Orleans Magazine
Intent to Deceive

Variety reviews the new documentary on Mark Landis and they lead the piece with 'This quizzical forgery docu pretends to be on con artist's trail, when it's actually on his side the whole time.'

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Circa 1940s Spiritual Advisor Sister Sophie's sign from Hazlehurst, Mississippi has been found and is being offered online for $6800. It is magnificent.

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And we are now parents of a preschool graduate!  Shugie took a selfie of us!
Shugie's Graduation Selfie

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Let's Eat


Favorite Restaurants:
1. Commander's Palace, New Orleans LA
2. Arnaud's, New Orleans LA
3. Antoine's, New Orleans LA
4. Doe's Eat Place, Greenville MS
5. Root, New Orleans LA
6. Chez Fonfon, Birmingham AL
7. Taylor Grocery, Taylor MS
8. Ninfa's on Navigation, Houston TX
9. Lusco's, Greenwood MS
10. The Dinner Bell, McComb MS

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