As always, all images here copyright DeepFriedKudzu unless otherwise noted.
OpenTable.com ‘verified diners’ — meaning people who made their res and kept it, via the OpenTable app — voted on the best barbecue restaurants in the nation, and here’s the list. Oh wait! Before lasers beam out of your eyes, remember that nobody in Lockhart, Texas is taking OpenTable reservations (stand in line like the rest of us!). Okay, now here’s the list. From another planet, one might read that list and think the best smoked meat comes from California, Illinois, and New York. Yeah.
Indian Springs offered the kind of verdant, self-contained setting where one could have a preëmptively nostalgic coming-of-age.
Jackson, Mississippi is getting a Drago’s
From The Guardian: Grounded: the great art treasures that no longer go out on the road
Girl with a Pearl Earring thus joins the select band of art treasures that never see the outside world. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus never leaves the Uffizi in Florence; Las Meninas by Velázquez stays put at the Prado in Madrid; Picasso’s Guernica remains just down the road at the Reina Sofia museum; and his Demoiselles d’Avignon can only be seen at MoMA in New York.
So why are all these famous pieces so stay-at-home? Predictably the principal reason is their state of health…
Elvis Presley Enterprises groundbreaking during Elvis week this month for a new hotel, called ‘The Guesthouse’. Also beginning this month: iPad multimedia tours of Graceland for visitors.
Eli Kirshtein (Top Chef) is opening his first restaurant, The Luminary, in Atlanta on August 5.
My first truly fine-dining experience was at the now-shuttered Louis XVI in New Orleans. I remember that they served sorbet between courses, and salad wasn’t first, which in my early-twenties was a concept I had only read about. In any case, our waiter made the suggestion of having drum as one of the courses, a specialty that evening. I remember wondering what on earth they were trying to do, as I’d always heard drum is a trash-fish (always throwing them back when catching them by accident in the Tennessee River). I was wrong. It was delicious, and we still go to very nice restaurants that serve drum. This summer, GW Fins in the Quarter had a five-course trash-fish supper which was expected to include blackfin tina, lionfish, alligator gar, whelks, Bermuda chub, and mullet. If you go to Pensacola, you’ll know that mullet really isn’t a trash-fish, or maybe nobody cares that it ever was.
A giant armadillo building is hiding in the middle of Paris. And it’s seriously beautiful, especially inside.
Holtville, Alabama in this 1945 American Town documentary is just perfect.
At the Washington Post:
Confederates in the Basement, Liberals in the Living Room
I hid Robert E. Lee in a basement utility closet. Along with a matching framed print of Stonewall Jackson and a large photo of the Confederate flag.
My writers’ group was on the way over for our monthly meeting, which I’d offered to host last month at my parents’ Shenandoah Valley vacation cabin near Lexington, Va. Some hostesses worry about their appetizers, others about the cleanliness of their homes. I worried I’d be branded a garden-variety racist. I didn’t think I could explain away the cabin’s Confederate-lite decor. “Oh, bless your heart, that’s just a regimental battle flag that meant something to somebody a long time ago. Would you like some hummus and pita chips?”
Pie shakes have been around for a while, but HuffPo shows just how easy it is (add slice of pie to milkshake, whirl, enjoy).
A Memphis publishing company has just released Salinger’s first book in 50 years.
Thrillist lists the 33 best burgers in the nation. We all realize these lists are click-bait, right? But anyway, Chez FonFon in B’ham made the list, in the company of Company Burger in New Orleans, the Hay Merchant in Houston, Holeman and Finch in Atlanta, Husk in Charleston, Lamar Lounge in Oxford, Swift’s Attic in Austin…
A ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ tattoo, from Atticus’ quote on courage.
And that’s not all. More literary ink
Selfridge’s in London deserves a big kiss for this. And their windows!!
Oh the windows windows windows windows windows windows. They’ve outdone themselves.
Also: Lisa Elmaleh’s Folk Portraits
Lisa Elmaleh first heard Appalachian folk music in 2010, and “it stirred something in my soul,” she told me. Since then, she has followed folk musicians from Ohio to Georgia, capturing them with her nineteen-forties Century Universal 8 x 10 camera and the hundred-and-fifty-year-old tintype process. The process (which does not actually involve any tin) creates a direct positive on a thin iron sheet coated with enamel or lacquer. The plates have to be coated, sensitized, and developed while they are still wet, so when Elmaleh is on the road, she said, “my truck is my home and my mobile dark room.”
Yes, yes, yes.
From the WSJ:
Delta Hot Tamales Are Hotter Than Ever
In Mississippi, they do tamales their own way. Now, chefs are converging on the region to push the cornmeal-stuffed envelope even further
Did everyone but me know that Crisco is short for Crystallized Cottonseed Oil?
And the “Happy Birthday” song is not really in copyright, Warner may have to return millions in royalties they should’ve never gotten, and all those restaurants that have their own tacky spin on it can just quit and go back to the original now?
The NYT on Tom Hendrix and Te-Lah-Nay’s Wall.
Dedicated to his Native American great-great grandmother, Te-lah-nay, the wall, recorded in the Library of Congress, ranges in height from four feet to almost six feet in some spots and is the largest unmortared wall in the United States. It commemorates Te-lah-nay’s five-year walk home from Oklahoma to Florence after she was displaced during the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans from the Southeast following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
The wall also exemplifies an eccentric American tradition of individuals who devote their lives to highly personal monuments. In nearby Cullman, Ala., for example, a Benedictine monk carved the Ave Maria Grotto, a miniature collection of buildings from Europe and Jerusalem.
During much of his own project, Mr. Hendrix labored in relative obscurity. “I love it when the master stonemasons come and ask me how many helpers I had,” he told a group of visitors recently. “I wore out three trucks, 22 wheelbarrows, 3,700 pairs of gloves, three dogs and one old man.”
Winston Churchill’s paintings will make a tour of Georgia, on exhibit in seven different gallery spaces, beginning August 2 in LaGrange.
The Alabama Historical Commission has the intention to turn over the day-to-day operations of Gaineswood to the people of Demopolis.
The desired change comes after years of declining state and federal funding as well as visitation at “house museums” across the state.
The commission wants to cede some control of Gaineswood, Magnolia Grove in Greensboro, Fendall Hall in Eufaula and Belle Mont Mansion in Tuscumbia to local nonprofits or municipal governments.
While the commission would still own the properties and insure them, the state wants local groups or governments to manage each site and assume all costs.
…In 2013, Gaineswood brought in $6,292, but cost the state $127,533 to operate. Of the 13 sites operated by the commission, only Magnolia Grove generated less revenue with $2,552.
James Earl Jones reads The Raven. And who’s going to top that?
The first soy sauce microbrewery is in Kentucky. Fermented in re-purposed bourbon barrels, of course.
A reminder of how Delta Airlines got its start: crop-dusting the cotton fields of the Delta to fend off the boll weevil.
Adelaide, Australia’s first Krispy Kreme is open to great acclaim but apparently is a ‘hotbed for crime’ as police have been called out at least 20 times in the first week, once as teens were robbed at knifepoint for six dozen doughnuts. There have been ~150 people fined for parking there, too.
The Chicago Tribune, with this interview with Marja Mills, author of ‘The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee‘:
Also: Vulture on ‘The Decline of Harper Lee‘ (which…what a horrible title, Vulture.)
And: Nelle Harper Lee says she didn’t give authorization for the book (this comes as a surprise to whom? She denied it in 2011 also.)
And: The NYT book review doesn’t care for Marja Mills’ book at all in To Kill A Friendship, and one odd element made it into the piece:
“The Mockingbird Next Door” conjured mostly sad images in my mind. Ms. Lee has a regular booth at McDonald’s, where she goes for coffee. She eats takeout salads from Burger King on movie night. When she fishes, she uses wieners for bait. She feeds the town ducks daily, with seed corn from a plastic Cool Whip Free container, calling “Woo-hoo-HOO! Woo-hoo-HOO!” Somehow learning all this is worse than it would be to learn that she steals money from a local orphanage.
At the NYT, apparently they’re unfamiliar with what works for fish bait, how ducks like to be talked to, and the multifaceted virtues of an empty Cool Whip container.
On the new book, Bourbon Street: A History, from the T-P:
“Like other serious observers of New Orleans, I held Bourbon Street in contempt,” Campanella said. “I had succumbed to the elitist delusion that only certain limited groups of people participate in culture in an authentic manner. I thought of Bourbon Street as fake – whatever that means – and that made me an arbiter of reality instead of a good observer.”
…”In the days and weeks after the storm Bourbon Street sent an important message to the world: Johnny White’s was open, the buskers were singing on the sidewalk outside, the heart of New Orleans continued to beat,” Campanella said. “Bourbon Street didn’t blink during the city’s darkest hours: it went back to work. It was the first commercial area to re-open, the first to send tax dollars to city government – at least in a spotty fashion – and Bourbon Street has never gotten credit for that. It never even sought credit.”
…”I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this is the first, serious, full-length book about Bourbon Street. It’s a place that appalls preservationists, reformers and intellectuals — anyone who gets social rewards by decrying noise and garish commercialism,” Campanella said. “On the other hand, Bourbon Street is incredibly influential. It’s the most recognized place name in the city – and for better or worse, it has exported a vision of New Orleans culture around the world. It should be the most written about phenomenon in New Orleans – and instead, it’s gotten the least attention.”
The more informed you are, the more likely you are to choose store brands. Pharmacists, for example, are especially likely to buy store brands of headache medicines. Chefs are far less inclined to select national brands of salt and sugar than are nonchefs who are otherwise demographically identical. In other words, national brands are succeeding largely because of consumer ignorance.
Also: Taco Bell refers to its cashiers as ‘service champions’ and the cooks are…what else? Food champions.
Wow. Just look at the genius, genius, genius project Paducah, Kentucky is doing.
Fourteen years ago, the city of Paducah in Kentucky started the Artist Relocation Program. Now a national model for using arts for economic development, it allowed artists to move into dilapidated housing at little cost (often as low as $1). Over time, people used art to renovate the city and to create new life.
The Ritz London is serving a new cocktail named ‘The Tallulah’ after our Tallulah Bankhead, who once famously sipped champagne out of her slipper during a press conference.
…a new concoction, The Tallulah, presented in a striking black shoe with a glass heel designed by Christian Louboutin.
My neighbors told me this week that their home (mid-century) has a real, honest-to-goodness bomb shelter in it.
When I was in school (I was born in the ’70s), we had three safety drills at school:
fire — leave quickly in orderly fashion
tornado — open windows(!!), go into hall or basement, crouch and cover your head
and nuclear bomb — duck and cover under your desk — I think the last time we did this was 2nd grade, while we were still in the Cold War
I found this ’50s film from the government. It gets real right around 2:07. “It could knock you down, hard…but if you duck, and cover…you’ll be much safer…”
From Roll Call, Senate Seersucker Thursday is back (finally!) and this reaction from Trent Lott:
For those who think Seersucker Day is beneath the dignity of the Senate, he rolls his eyes.
“The Senate’s too damn stuffy,” he said. “They need to loosen up a little bit.”
Also, maybe/probably it’s because I’m just this much truly in love with seersucker, but Trent Lott is completely rocking that suit in this picture. Note, the sticker behind him just reads ‘Dang’. Indeed.
From Smithsonian: Why Museums Don’t Need Gleaming New Buildings, Especially Not in Los Angeles, in which the author says (and see if this doesn’t resonate):
Most art museums today resemble either palaces (if they are old), or upscale automobile showrooms (if they are new).
Joey Chestnut lost again this year at the Slugburger Festival in Corinth. The winner, Matt Stonie, ate 43 of them in ten minutes.
If you have some hesitancy about eating a slugburger (it’s just hamburger meat plus some filler in the bread family (although now, some use soybean)), allow a bit more pause to consider as the LA Times put it, Is there wood pulp in your burger or taco? ’cause we need that.
Chicago S-T interviews Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, and he explains in his upcoming cookbook how he sees the historical background of pimento cheese:
Even pimento cheese has a kind of wild and interesting story. It pops up in the late 19th century tea rooms all around the country. It wasn’t a particularly southern thing. In the 1920s it was considered so high class and desirable that when Kraft first started making its cheeses, pimento cheese was one of the first ones they put in a jar. And all of a sudden what had been kind of highbrow was suddenly lowbrow, along with Velveeta. And so millworkers in the south started making sandwiches to take with them to work; it sort of infiltrated the south that way. Pimento cheese was one of those things people would put in their lunch boxes and take to the mills because they were encouraged to work through their lunch break, eat standing up. It would hold together better than, I guess, a chicken salad sandwich.
In The New Republic:
Revival Revival: Mid-century Blues obsessives are getting a lot of attention lately
Estately (a national real estate site) came up with a list of the most barbecue-crazed states in the nation — and before all the cynical creeps in and one imagines an intern coming up with something to post based on a few Google searches — it was done with some data (that you could bat around on the weight of, but…):
Barbecue restaurants per capita (source: Yellow Pages)
Facebook interest in barbecue (source: Facebook)
Percentage of restaurants that are barbecue (source: Yellow Pages)
Google searches for “barbecue” (source: Google Trends)
Barbecue accessory stores and charcoal producers (Yellow Pages)
and who’s #1?
Another great obituary, this of June Shaw of B’ham. In part:
On July 15, Dr. June Fore Shaw of Birmingham ended her lifelong fight against conventionality. Her loved ones are fairly certain of two things: she was ready, keys in hand, the night before, and, that when she screeched up to her final destination in her royal blue Porsche, she demanded to speak to the woman in charge.
…As a determined single mother, she enlisted her parents in the care of her toddler and enrolled in college. She then astounded them by declaring her intentions of becoming a physician, going on to graduate from the University of Alabama College of Medicine in 1960–with only a handful of other women–and completing residencies in both clinical and anatomical pathology. At the height of her career, publishing prolifically, she was the director of both the blood bank and the tissue-typing lab at the University of Alabama Hospitals in Birmingham and was a founder of the American Association for Clinical Histocompatibility Testing. All this, and sitting atop her desk in miniskirt and go-go boots, she lectured to med students too.
The drive that propelled June through her medical career was equaled only by her passion for what she believed in. Of course, there were her less weighty interests: her 1964 Ford Mustang and her 1970 911S; competitive tennis, through which she met her dearest friends, Della Huber and Melinda Powers; music of all kinds, but particularly the Grateful Dead; late-night games at the pool hall; and then, when she had more physical constraints, duplicate bridge. But what June most strongly cared about were justice and compassion for all humankind, and especially the rights of women and minorities in the white man’s world. She was known for clearing out many a holiday table arguing impatiently over just these matters with her brother and male cousins. As an early member of NOW, a proponent of the ERA, and a self-proclaimed Yellow Dog Democrat, she would have been elated at our prospect of another chance to vote for Hillary Clinton.
In awe of her fiercely independent and sometimes outlandish life, June leaves behind…a host of amazed friends and bewildered strangers with whom she crossed paths over the decades. We’re certain that she would be the first to suggest that we skip the church service, throw on our jeans, and begin the eating and drinking. Please join us for that celebration…
Next time at Rouse’s — well, beginning August 8 — you can pick up a pack of Lucky Dogs.
Food and Loathing in Charleston
…a notion of Charleston not as just another contemporary American city, but as the ancestral home of the chicken bog and frogmore stew, where loaf sugar sweetens and wormwood brightens, where corn dodgers fry in benne seed oil and rice-fed canvasback ducks roast alongside moon fish and croakers, and the whole thing is washed down with plantation-brewed persimmon beer. The work that has gone into reclaiming the richness of antebellum and 19th century food in Charleston, the kind of cuisine where you can taste the West African mixing with the Caribbean and Colonial, was natural groundwork for Cook it Raw.
And who better to school us than Aaron Franklin?
The new home of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum opens September 29 in New Orleans.
The NYT asks (and it hurts): What’s Wrong with Eastern Kentucky?
The queasy answer that economists come to is that it would be better to help the people than the place — in some cases, helping people leave the place.
Here it is: Where are the Hardest Places to Live in the US?
The Amish Plowboy produce auction barn in Ethridge, Tennessee — which does more than $1MM in business annually — is now owned and run by an ‘English’ woman. As she put it:
“When you’re standing in a room of 40 Amish men looking at you, what do you do?”
Here, an excerpt from Robert Khayat’s autobiography, The Education of a Lifetime — he was Chancellor at Ole Miss for 14 years beginning in 1995:
One letter contained a tape recording from a Mississippi minister’s sermon. The preacher, from a nearby church, delivered a rousing message to his congregation about how it was absolutely and simply “un-Christian” to consider any changes in the use of the Confederate flag.
Among the boxes that arrived at the Lyceum was one bearing a return address I recognized. It was from a friend from Starkville (home of our in-state rival Mississippi State). My assistant opened the box and brought it into my office. She handed it to me, and I looked inside. It was a complete set of women’s pink underwear. The note inside read: Try these, Robert. They should fit.
Not sure how I missed this, but last year a Harvard study (I do love a study) published that:
…in a conclusion that surely would have pleased Freud, the findings suggest that the warmth of your relationship with Mommy matters long into adulthood. Specifically:
Men who had “warm” childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men whose mothers were uncaring.
Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.
Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
…Vaillant’s key takeaway, in his own words: “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the Grant Study points … to a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ ”
Kentucky has approved $18 million in new tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park that is to feature a 510-foot-long replica of Noah’s Ark.
…As we reported in January, the project nearly foundered when the Christian nonprofit Answers in Genesis — which also operates the Creation Museum and is leading the effort to build the new theme park — was close to triggering a redemption of unrated municipal bonds because it had fallen short of selling the $29 million it needed.
Answers in Genesis is headed by Ken Ham, who in February engaged in a high-profile debate with Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”
A Ringgold, Georgia man goes to Waffle House every day of the year and says he has only missed 20 days in the last 30 years.
Johnny adds, “I get tired of laying around like a sick cat, so I’ve got this place to rely on.”
Sorry in advance for some of his language, but here’s M.T. in his own words.
Some of artist M.T. Liggett’s artwork was vandalized in June.
But you know what we really need? Guerilla lace.
We all know the Weinermobile; now there’s a Nutmobile.
Old food is good food. From the WSJ:
…This Saturday, the museum is throwing the ham a 112th birthday party.
…Dyer’s Burgers on Beale Street in Memphis tells the story on its website: The late Elmer “Doc” Dyer began to develop a burger-cooking process in 1912, and according to legend, the secret was an “ageless cooking grease.”
…The Willis Museum in Basingstoke, England, displays a wedding cake from the 1890s.
…Ms. Anistratov said the bakery’s founder, Yonah Schimmel, brought the culture they use to New York from Eastern Europe more than 100 years ago. “It’s still alive until today,” she said.
…Clare Burson, an educator at New York’s Tenement Museum, has written songs about a piece of cheese made in Lithuania circa 1893 that she keeps in a glass jar in her Brooklyn apartment.
In the NYT this week, Chefs Move Beyond New York which mentions John Hall who used to be at Per Se and Gramercy Tavern — he’s now back home in Birmingham where he’s opened Post Office Pies. So that’s where we had lunch one day this week: