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This Week's Various

Friday, October 23, 2015

Starting to Freeze Over, MS Delta 2004
Delta in 2004 just as it was starting to freeze

Mississippi Madness: Expat Life in America's Weirdest State: Richard Grant moving from NYC to Martha Foose's Pluto Plantation in the Delta makes me laugh and cry (not funny-crying either. Just crying.). Oh, the way we are different is so good and so wonderful and so unlike anything anywhere but sometimes it is just sooooo...

The book: Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

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Curried Fried Cauliflower Hummus at Shaya, New Orleans
Best hummus I've had in my life (and I've been to Israel multiple times): this roasted cauliflower hummus at Shaya

From Esquire: 'Best New Restaurant in America: Shaya' but of course! xoxoxoxo to Alon Shaya and team!!

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Dinner at Monell's, Nashville TN
above: Monell's in December

This is how Andrew Zimmern thinks a great day of eating goes in Nashville (hint: breakfast = Monell's).

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Sunflower Store, Rolling Fork MS
They say they'll have an upcoming one at a Pig, but how about the Sunflower

The first Delta Supper Club is already sold out. From Forbes (this article was before it was s/o):

The Delta Supper Club will host dinners at historic locations throughout The Delta. The inaugural dinner on October 30 will be conducted by chef Edward Lee, owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville and known for his appearance on Season 9 of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and Trey Zoeller, the master distiller of Jefferson’s Bourbon.

Some of the supper club proceeds will support local charities, cooks and a scholarship fund for Mississippi Culinary Arts Students. The supper club is flexible with who it will aid, Crews says, suggesting it could be a cook who moved from The Delta to New Orleans and needs help with rent or a culinary student who cannot afford school books.

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Poisson Meuniere Amandine, Galatoire's, New Orleans LA
Overall, no big surprises

Brett Anderson's new list of the best restaurants in New Orleans.

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From CNN:
Georgia's Stone Mountain...will soon be adding a very different symbol: a tower in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

According to CNN affiliate WSB, the tower will feature a replica of the Liberty Bell and give literal representation to a line from King's "I Have a Dream" speech: "Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."


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Charleston Sweetgrass Baskets
above: sweetgrass baskets

At Roads and Kingdoms, A Change is Gonna Come on Geechee culture:

“You have to educate your own people to hold onto the heritage and the culture and the history, because without the land, you ain’t got it,” Bailey told me. “You can’t carry this culture in the middle of Chicago. It doesn’t work.”

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Old Monroe County Courthouse - To Kill A Mockingbird
above: the old Monroe County Courthouse

Wayne Flynt, friend of Nelle Harper Lee, gives a talk in Sylacauga on 'Watchman':

The decades separating the two books—published 55 years and three days apart—fed the controversy. But Flynt asked the crowd, if you start out with "To Kill A Mockingbird," where do you go?

"Perhaps that's why she waits till she's 89 to give permission" for "Watchman's" publication, he said.

Before accepting audience questions, Flynt urged those gathered to read the book:

"You'll like Atticus better because he's not perfect."


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Family Reunion Soul Food Restaurant, Birmingham Alabama
above: at the old Family Reunion in Birmingham

Adrian Miller is interviewed on perceptions of soul food in the Phoenix New Times and says, rightly:
What most people think of as soul food is really the celebration food of the rural South. And in this country, what we define as immigrant cuisine is usually the celebration foods of the old country, which over time, ceases to be the celebration food and becomes more of the core diet. And that's what soul food is. So you know, fried chicken, the glorious cakes and pies, all of those things. At one point in the history, that was once-in-a-while food. But as people moved out of the South, it transplanted in places and gets more prosperous. They remember the good-times food of the old country and they just start to eat it more often as a sign of their new, kind of, status.

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If you live in a town with a Dinner Lab, it looks as though they just dropped their membership fee.

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Emeril's, New Orleans
above: an amuse at Emeril's

Emeril is opening a new Warehouse District restaurant, Meril.

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Sister Manette Durand has joined the ancestors. From Southern Spaces in 2009:
Bodies and Souls illuminates the quiet efforts of Sister Manette Durand, a white Catholic nun running the only health clinic in rural Jonestown, Mississippi. The residents of Jonestown, a largely African American town in the heart of the Delta, share a condition faced by low income, rural Americans struggling to obtain basic medical care. Nearly every family in this town is touched by diabetes and heart disease. Yet many lack the resources to visit a doctor more than once or twice in their entire lives. The video follows Sister Manette through her daily challenge of providing the only health care services this community has seen in the last fifteen years.

Bodies and Souls here from southernspaces on Vimeo.

Here, her obit with information on how to help carry on her work.

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Polk Curry Genealogy - Willie Belle Curry
above: my glam great-grandmother, Belle

Kevin Gillespie's Revival earned two out of four stars in the AJC, but I want to go there just to channel my great-grandmother and her table.

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Ribs & Bread, Dreamland in Tuscaloosa
above: just ribs and bread at the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa

Aaron Franklin says:
His ideal barbecue serving would be "a piece of white bread in my hand with a chunk of meat on it," and nothing else. "We don’t need no stinkin’ sides," he added.

Big Daddy Bishop would have agreed.

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Commander's Palace, New Orleans
above: how items are wrapped for bringing home from Commander's palace

The History of our Love-Hate-Love Relationship with Leftovers at NPR

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"Dual Destiny" Monument, Double Springs AL
above: the 'Dual Destiny' monument at the Winston County Courthouse in Double Springs, Alabama. The plaque reads: This Civil War soldier, one-half Union and one-half Confederate, symbolizes the war within a war and honors the Winstonians in both armies. Their shiny new swords in 1861 were by 1865 as broken as the spirits of the men who bore them, and their uniforms of blue and gray, once fresh and clean, were now as worn and patched as the bodies and souls they contained. Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, disillusioned by the realities of war, shared dual destinies as pragmatic Americans in a reunited nation.
Donald B. Dodd


NYT Magazine runs 'Stone-Faced Ghosts of the Confederacy' with a professor of photography supplying images of almost 100 monuments.

In Ukraine, a sculptor turned a Lenin monument into one of Darth Vader.

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Rosario's Mexican Cafe Y Cantina, San Antonio TX
above: queso at Rosario's Mexican Cafe Y Cantina in San Antonio

In Margaret Eby's South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature (loved it!), she mentions a line from John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces in which Ignatius says, "When my brain begins to reel from by literary labors, I make the occasional cheese dip" which -- she's right -- sounds like a Twitter bio.

LSU Press' A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook is out now.

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*Plenty* of reasons I'm disliking Paul Theroux's Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, but, bless him, when asked what meal he could have from the road again, he answered Lottie's in Marion, Alabama -- catfish, macaroni and cheese, biscuit.

His 'The Hypocracy of 'Helping' the Poor' in the NYT is completely worth a read.

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Needing a Lane cake for the holidays? They're a regular on the Liger's Bakery menu in Montgomery. They're obviously up to groom, game, and gag cakes too.

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Burnt Corn General Store, Burnt Corn AL
above: a pic I took of the Burnt Corn, Alabama general store and post office before it closed

Yesssss to Rachel Boillot's Post Script images of rural post offices -- many in Mississippi.

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For whatever reason, I can't believe that Lenox' largest flatware set for 12 includes a spork for each setting. Does anybody not put together spork and KFC in the same thought bubble?

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Gus' Fried Chicken, Memphis TN
Gus' fried chicken

Here's how Wyatt Williams begins his review of the new Gus' Fried Chicken (which has to be top-five in anyone's list) in Atlanta:

Some of the best fried chicken in Atlanta right now is actually from Memphis.

but...the sides are forgettable. Amen to that. We're here for the fried chicken. Yes again to what Aaron Franklin says re: sides.

Gus' is now up to 11 stores, and they're looking to grow that (if anybody here knows anybody at Gus' corporate -- which it sounds funny to say that anyway -- beg them to keep it real. Nobody wants/needs/can bear another Dickey's world domination tour. Wince). Future locations include:
St. Louis, Missouri
Los Angeles, California
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chicago, Illinois
Knoxville, Tennessee
Fort Worth, Texas
Kansas City
Detroit, Michigan
...no Birmingham? They're in Little Rock and Oxford right now but no Magic City? Granted, nobody really likes franchises, and even in Memphis, the Gus' over by Gibson's isn't as good as the one downtown, but Alabama needs Gus'. Especially since nobody is getting a good date on when, if ever, we will be sitting back down to yardbird at Hotel Talisi. Gus': bring it.

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Through November 28: 'Topography' at Tinney Contemporary in Nashville

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K-Paul's, New Orleans
I'm sitting at K-Paul's one day, and guess who comes in the door?

The T-P's ode to Paul Prudhomme's legacy:

Prudhomme took plenty of creative license in the kitchen – blackening was his invention, and he loved Mexican food – and his Magic Seasoning grocery store products, distributed worldwide from its Harahan-based headquarters, continue to enable unpoetic treatments of "Cajun" food. But accusations that Prudhomme's cooking lacked "authenticity" are rendered laughable by his personal history. He grew up making gumbo in a wood-fired oven – his childhood kitchen had no electricity – after searching his parents' yard for the oldest chicken.

"You could cook it for six hours," Prudhomme told me in 2004, "and still you couldn't eat the skin of the rooster."

Prudhomme's prairie-Cajun gumbo, thick with andouille and poultry, is the defacto soup du jour in much of New Orleans, but it was something new when the chef first introduced it at Commander's. Brigtsen, a New Orleans native, said he "thought all gumbo had seafood in it" before meeting Prudhomme.


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Me, Welding

At the Shooting Range

Me, the last two weeks -- a screenprinting and welding class at MakeBhm and a shooting class (just for sport) at Brock's Gap.

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Via Mother Jones: These Striking Photos Will Change the Way You Look at Coal Country. Always such complicated feelings when seeing these kinds of projects.

In the many years Stacy Krantiz has been documenting life in Appalachia—as seen in her ongoing project, As it was Give(n) to Me—she has deftly navigated the minefield that comes with photographing in this often misrepresented part of the county. At least since Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the 1941 book by writer James Agee and photographer Walter Evans that chronicled the lives of poverty-stricken sharecroppers in the South, residents have rightfully complained about how outsiders have portrayed them in photographs—nothing short of a kind of visual openmouthed gawking and pointing. By living with her subjects, Krantiz challenges and plays with common stereotypes...

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Crystal Bridges, Bentonville AR
above: Crystal Bridges

This is what Alice Walton said in an interview with the Observer:

“Art shouldn’t just be for people in big cities,” she slowly and seriously enunciated with her sturdy, Southern drawl. “What I care about is access to the arts for all people of all economic and ethnic backgrounds.”

Amen, amen, amen, amen.

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So many people wondering why they're not living in New Orleans right now: going in to make groceries at Circle Foods, my friend RL Reeves writes about being offered Fireball shots at the entrance. I think two times ago on a visit to Rouse's, Av was offered vodka samples. Never go grocery shopping hungry...or thirsty.

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Eli Frank Brook's Bris
At both our boys' bris, Av handed out Kinky Friedman Texas Jewboy cigars

Yes a million times to this interview at Glide with Kinky Friedman and his new music:



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Pierre-August Renoir: Strawberries
above: a Renoir at Crystal Bridges

Renoir has haters. The best response was from the counter-demonstrators at the Met, one who had a sign that read: You Couldn't Do Better.

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John W. Norton Murals, Jefferson County Courthouse, Birmingham AL

I gave Hyperallergic a couple of images to illustrate their piece on the murals in the Jefferson County Courthouse now that a petition has come up to have them removed as they depict slavery.

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Seen Rick Bragg write pitch-perfect on this region, but surely these aren't his best five quotes on being Southern.

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In November 2017, the $45MM Mississioppi Arts and Entertainment Experience, 'devoted to Mississippi artists in film, literature, music, arts, dance, theater and visual arts' will open in Meridian.

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Toups' Meatery, New Orleans LA
above: just...you know, lunch at Toups' Meatery

Yes: Isaac Toups (Toups' Meatery) is in season 13 of Top Chef (it comes out December 2). The other southern chef is Wesley True, who started True Restaurant -- it's now called A and P Social -- in Montgomery (True in Mobile is closed), was at The Spence for a short time in Atlanta and is now at The Optimist.

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Kenny & Ziggy's, Houston TX
above: Av's sandwich at Kenny and Ziggy's

Food and Wine runs a piece on rethinking bread as a sandwich container and mention how it's substituted for latkes at Zingerman's -- Av gets that at Kenny and Ziggy's in Houston (also: Ziggy's the point-person in the Deli Man doc, and it's on Amazon Prime right now).

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Cornbread

I was taught that any time a person puts a cast iron skillet in a dishwasher, an angel loses its wings. Says Lodge: not necessarily anymore.

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Ooooooh the way I love Ken Burns: he's speaking at Ole Miss this coming Tuesday.

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The bagel shop of all our dreams.

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Amir Safi's "Ode to Whataburger" at the Texas Grand Slam:
We have come to receive your honey butter chicken blessings

Av knew I was the one to marry when I took him to his first Whataburger, between Houston and Galveston. Whatever it takes.

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From Hanna Raskin and the P and C: the interesting history of koliva and its preparation at a church in Charleston that will have it at a genocide commemoration.

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Margaret's Grocery, 2001, Just Outside Vicksburg MS
from one of our first visits: Margaret's Grocery in 2001

The announcement of the latest 10 Most Endangered Places in Mississippi include Margaret's Grocery in Vicksburg.

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Worthwhile:
The Remarkable Thing that Happens to Poor Kids when you Give their Parents a Little Money from WaPo
How to Keep Your City Weird
Why I'm Closing Noma at Lucky Peach
and I thought surely this was going to be Jungle Jim's outside Cincinnati in Inside the Best Grocery Store on Earth but this is okay too

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And just because:
Austin has a cat cafe.
An Abandoned House in Detroit Blooms with Aromatic Plants
Have kids? Let's get this going.
So much this.

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Reading: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative, No Matter How Busy You Are
Watching: When Harry Met Sally for the first time
Learning: course via Highbrow on Ground-breaking Contemporary Artists

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