This Week’s Various

Wild Cherry, Hansens Sno-Bliz, New Orleans LA
It’s Spring!  Hansen’s opens today!

Oh, my.  Yes, yes, yes. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson on ‘The Most Astounding Fact’:

1795 Mary Plantation House in Plaquemines Parish is up for auction on Saturday.  A sale of more than 300 furnishings (1830 tester bed, 82″ cast iron sugar kettle, will take place later that day.

The Oxford American interviews one of my favorite artists, Clyde Broadway (you’ve seen his Trinity painting, with Jesus, Elvis, and Robert E. Lee at the Ogden).

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On:

The Loveless gives their recipe for red velvet pancakes.  And then there’s deep fried red velvet cake (but no pic) at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo this week.  Article here.

I think it’s interesting the kinds of over-the-top concoctions that people come up with for these events, but isn’t *real* fair food supposed to be about who makes the best homemade this-or-that?  Isn’t, historically, fair food supposed to be Aunt Sally’s blue ribbon whatever?  Maybe it’s time to take fair food a few steps back and the Lions Club members would make barbecue and others would be set up with an array of fresh cakes and pies.  Who wouldn’t like that?

The NYT: They Made Main Street Their Own, How Four Women Revived a Derelict Mississippi Town (Water Valley).  Thanks, Erin!

Stephen King + John Mellencamp + T Bone Burnett = a musical, “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” premiering at the Alliance in Atlanta on April 4.  Atlanta Magazine characterizes it as Southern Gothic:  King’s script flits from past to present as it tells the story of two generations of the McCandless family touched by a 1967 triple homicide in a backwoods Mississippi cabin.

Atlanta Magazine asks about Southern authenticity:

John has worked with a lot of musicians in places like Muscle Shoals [Sound Studio]. And he just finished making a record in Sun Studio in Nashville. And T Bone worships that kind of music. And it lends itself naturally to what we were doing. John and I said from the beginning the last thing that we want is a slick New York show. We are people who are not from the city. We’re pretty much ordinary kind of blue jeans folks and we wanted that kind of music…

I spent some time in Mississippi and also in Selma, and I wanted to get a feel for the place. And I also spent a year…in Asheville, North Carolina, and places like that. I know a little about the South, and I’m humble enough to not want to think I know it all. You don’t just swagger in from another part of the country and say you know the South. …But at the same time, all respect to Atlanta, we didn’t want that South either. That’s the new South. 

From the WSJ: Amasa Coleman Lee, whose legal work led his daughter, Harper, to write about his work through the character of Atticus Finch, also helped write the Alabama law that says whether or not a municipality can file for Chapter 9 protection. Every state is required to note whether its counties and cities can file for bankruptcy—nearly half forbid it—and Lee was credited for helping write that wording in a 1930s statute.

Wendell Pierce (The Wire, now Treme) opens a grocery store in New Orleans.  The NYT reports: Many celebrities with a taste for good food veer into the restaurant business, but Mr. Pierce has taken a different tack. This summer, he and two business partners plan to open a grocery store called Sterling Farms, the first of several in New Orleans’s low-income neighborhoods, where supermarkets are scarce.

In December, they opened Sterling Express, the first in a convenience store chain that will sell fresh produce, salads and competitively priced staples in addition to the usual chips and sodas.

Schwartz’s in Montreal, some of the most delicious smoked meat in the whole world, has new owners (including a famous one) but they thankfully promise… “Without referring to his previous chain venture, Angelil sought to assuage the concerns of any purists that he’ll create a similar business model out of Schwartz’s, a place immortalized in the literature of Mordecai Richler.  Angelil promised not to allow franchises, and to keep the authenticity of the establishment.”

The Story of Sushi, done all in miniature:

The Story of Sushi from Bamboo Sushi on Vimeo.

The first Southern Crossroads Music and Tamale Festival will be held August 10-12 in Jackson.  Yay for a tamale festival!  Maybe they could have a logo contest for next year’s event.

The WP ran an article about Jim ‘n Nick’s, the barbecue chain based in Birmingham (of barbecue chains, they’re really not bad) …it’s policy that every day, everything is made from scratch…As if to prove a point, Jim ’N Nick’s owner Nick Pihakis refuses even to put a freezer in the kitchen.

Pihakis caught sustainable-food fever about seven years ago after meeting Bill Niman, the founder of Niman Ranch. …What he learned is that it would be far more complicated than simply making deals with small farmers. Each year, Jim ’N Nick’s serves 4 million pounds of pork. To produce enough meat at a price his customers would pay, Pihakis would have to address processing, packaging and distribution. “I realized I needed to be in the system to fix the system,” he says.

Pihakis projects that it will take at least five years to have his new food chain up and running. But next month he is taking the first step: opening a pork processing facility in Eva, Ala…

In the meantime, Pihakis and his crew are developing an ideal heritage breed for barbecue, a cross between the popular Berkshire pig and the Mangalitsa…also recruiting the farmers to raise them for him. To meet the demand from Jim ’N Nick’s, he calculates he will need 40 farms to each raise 400 pigs a year. So far, only four have committed.  …Pihakis also is signing up farmers to grow vegetables…

How much will these changes cost Jim ’N Nick’s customers? Pihakis says that to put heritage pork on the plate, he will need to raise prices by only 50 cents for a sandwich and $1 for a platter. 

“Sogginess is an acceptable attribute in Southern food” according to the Seattle Weekly. Really?

This week, the FLW-designed Florida Southern College campus was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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