This Week’s Various

Tomato Aspicabove: tomato aspic, 2008

Adam Platt’s In Defense of WASP Cooking at Grub Street:

 Back in the day, however, Wasps feasted on a brand of sturdy, regional cooking which would have caused discerning farm-to-table chefs of today to nod their heads in approval. Julia Child was a Wasp, after all, and so was Fannie Merritt Farmer, whose groundbreaking recipe-based theories were famous in her home town of Boston long before her books became popular around the country. The old beefsteak house (which bred the modern steakhouse) is a Wasp invention by way of jolly old England, along with most chowders you’d care to mention (with a little help from our French Canadian cousins to the north) and any kind of apple (or blueberry, or cherry) pie. My ancestors, who migrated to New York City from the wilds of Massachusetts and Connecticut during the 1800s, took fresh vegetables for granted and used to dine like kings on rib roasts, country hams cured in the local smokehouse, and seasonal delicacies like rashers of roast shad when the fish ran in great schools up the Hudson river in springtime.

Also: How Jell-o Molds Claimed their spot on the American Table by Julia Moskin

“It goes on the buffet with the turkey and the ham, and it stays through the pies,” said Jeffrey Zweben, a lawyer in Atlanta. He ignores Jell-O for most of the year, but starts stockpiling his favorite, the hard-to-find black cherry flavor, in September. For his signature Thanksgiving mold, he combines it with whole cranberries, crushed pineapple, cream cheese, whipped cream and — of course — a tablespoon of mayonnaise.

“It goes with everything,” he said firmly. “Jell-O is a processed joy.”

Thanksgiving 2017 Pies: 49 above: prev Thanksgiving pie scene at my house

At the Post and Courier, Hanna Raskin writes Think You’re Growing a Big Thanksgiving? These South Carolina Families Expect 400 Guests

Rather than cancel their hunt on account of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving would henceforth be brought to them. Every year since sometime around World War II, the Damon Hunt Club has hosted a Thanksgiving picnic for its members; their families and an assorted group of in-laws and trusted acquaintances. “It became the custom that once you’re invited, you become a permanent guest,” Bristow says. The hunt hasn’t happened since the 1960s. But the picnic endures.

Simmons-Wright Company General Store, Toomsuba MS

above: portrait of FDR at the Simmons-Wright store in Toomsuba, Mississippi

Through January 19 at the Art Institute of Chicago: Photography + Folk Art: Looking for America in the FDR era. From the press release:

At the heart of the display are works of art representing two major projects launched in 1935 under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Both the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) were instrumental in fostering new aesthetics and expanding artistic canons. Initiated by the WPA, the Index of American Design catalogued some 18,000 examples of folk arts deemed traditionally American, and the objects on view are emblematic of the types of work captured in the Index. At the same time, the FSA employed the country’s leading photographers—including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, and Arthur Rothstein—to document the daily plight of Americans. Photography + Folk Art brings together these twin strands of cultural production, reflecting on a pivotal moment in US history and the artwork that would come to define the nation during an era of social and economic upheaval. 

Staircase, Square Books, Oxford MS

above: staircase at Square Books

The NYT reviews
Tiny Love: the Complete Stories of Larry Brown. One thing that particularly stood out in Daniel Woodrell’s piece was his insightful statement on the things that make us wince today:

Readers may occasionally sniff at Larry Brown’s characterization of women; breasts and curves and desirability are assessed. Racial slurs that reflect their day and age are uttered a few times, but lest we ruin our enjoyment of such great works, we should be slow to judge, because, as with the flow of time unfurling in this vast collection, 25 years from now who knows what will make us uneasy. But we very much need these markers standing as witnesses to the evolution of our conduct.

Square Books will be hosting Celebrating the Life of Oxford’s Own Larry Brown on 12/3 at 5:30p

Oldham Theatre in Winchester, TN

above: the Oldham Theatre in Winchester, TN 2013

Also: the Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2019 and Netflix’ 2019 Holiday Movies, Reviewed and Ranked
And: The New Yorker with the 27 Best Movies of the Decade and wow, I’ve only seen one of them (Clint Eastwood’s The Mule)

Uggghhhhh the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay sweater is already sold out. My birthday wish (granted) for turning 16? Getting to order crab legs there. RL is a source of jokes now, but child-me coveted their popcorn shrimp and fancy-as-all-get-out baked potatoes because ::gasp:: they were salt-encrusted. Oh Cheddar Bay…

Motlow Ad, Birmingham AL above: the Motlow’s mural in downtown Birmingham 2012

Not yet on the JD website, but Delish reports that the Jack Daniels Advent Calendar, so popular last year in the UK, will be available here this season.

The calendar will feature four 50-milliliter bottles each of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. Oh, and there will also be two 50-milliliter bottles each of Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select.

East 59 Vintage & Cafe, East Lake / Birmingham AL

above: turkey sandwich at Vintage 59 in East Lake, 2016

Via Lists of Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Turkey Recipes: Turkey Remains and How to Inter Them, with Numerous Scarce Recipes, which begins:

 At this post holiday season, the refrigerators of the nation are overstuffed with large masses of turkey, the sight of which is calculated to give an adult an attack of dizziness. It seems, therefore, an appropriate time to give the owners the benefit of my experience as an old gourmet, in using this surplus material. Some of the recipes have been in my family for generations. (This usually occurs when rigor mortis sets in.) They were collected over years, from old cook books, yellowed diaries of the Pilgrim Fathers, mail order catalogues, golf-bags and trash cans. Not one but has been tried and proven—there are headstones all over America to testify to the fact.

New Exhibit Explores Cultures and Traditions of Canary Island Descendants in Louisiana through March 17 at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge

The Graduate Hotel, Athens GA above: a Crosley in my room at The Graduate in Athens GA, 2017

40 years of Terry Gross’ Fresh Air, archived. 22k+ episodes. Think I’ll get this started with Fame Studios and the Road to Nashville Songwriting Glory

Usually we hear about losing ground (literally) but here: wetland growth in Louisiana.


Bitter Southerner’s most-read story of 2019 was Micah Carter’s Waffle House Vistas and the photographs has been made into a limited-edition book.

Waffle House does not care how much you are worth, what you look like, where you are from, what your political beliefs are, or where you’ve been so long as you respect the unwritten rules of Waffle House: Be kind, be respectful, and don’t overstay when others are waiting for a table. Besides, everyone who has ever stepped foot in a Waffle House has a story to tell…

The BB King Museum in Indianola is undergoing a $2.5M expansion and will include space to exhibit King’s tour bus, Rolls Royce, and his El Camino.

Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford MS above: Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford

The new edition of William Faulkner: the Cofield Collection is now available.

Belle Meade Cafeteria, Nashville TN

Dining Room at Belle Meade Cafeteria, Nashville TN Belle Meade Cafeteria, Nashville TN

above: one we lost, the Belle Meade Cafeteria in Nashville

Food & Wine with The Best Cafeterias in America (#8 on the list is Arnold’s in Nashville, #9 Niki’s West in Bham).

Joe Minter's African Village in America, Birmingham AL

above: Joe Minter’s truck

At artnet: William Arnett Helped Bring Self-Taught Artists into Elite Museums. Now, He’s Presenting His Own Collection at a Gallery for the First Time. His A Different Mountain exhibit at the Marlborough in NYC goes through January 11, 2020 and includes Hawkins Bolden, Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Joe Minter, Mary T. Smith, James “Son” Thomas, Purvis Young, and a selection of quilts.

BTW, we had Thanksgiving yesterday with Joe and Hilda Minter; they are doing fine and wish everyone a happy holiday. xoxo!

While this article is about a museum director being fired for loaning out a copy of the Gettysburg Address without board approval, it’s surprising that there are only five known copies of the document in Lincoln’s handwriting (and the one that was loaned, valued at $20M).

The NYT with Looking for Frederick Douglass in Savannah and why now is such a good time

That they were even available and affordable, he said, attested to the lack of interest of major institutions in the 1980s in African-American letters — a situation that has changed. “They weren’t biting then,” he said. “But boy, are they biting now.”

The SCAD exhibition “Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom” is the last time Mr. Evans intends to show materials from this archive in his lifetime, because of their fragility. (They are being digitized.) Humberto Moro, one of the museum’s curators, said they offered an opportunity to connect archives and contemporary art.


Fred Sauceman, on vinegar pie. The WSJ publishes Why Vinegar Pie Belongs on your Holiday Table

This spinach gratin at Thanksgiving was crazy good.

Arnold's, Nashville TN above: from a visit to Arnold’s last year

How to Eat like an Award Winner in Nashville at JBF, which of course includes the beloved Arnold’s.

A New Orleans hotel group has purchased Dunleith in Natchez. A date for its reopening hasn’t been yet, but some renovations will be undertaken in the meantime.

Willie Nelson at the Alabama, 2012

above: Willie Nelson at the Alabama, 2012 (I saw him last year in Huntsville too — he’s always on tour so usually pretty easy to catch a show)

A rewind story:

Trigger: the Life of Willie Nelson’s Guitar at Texas Monthly:

No guitar is as beloved—or as famed. On Trigger’s face you can see the topography of modern music, the countless hours Willie has spent playing country, blues, jazz, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, swing, folk, reggae, thirties pop, forties pop, and eighties pop. Trigger was there at the very beginning of outlaw country. He was there at the first Farm Aid. And he was there when Willie serenaded President Jimmy Carter. He has shared stage and studio with Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. He has hung from Willie’s neck as tens of thousands of fans sang along to “Whiskey River.” And he has sat in Willie’s lap as Willie comforted friends, such as the time the two of them played “Healing Hands of Time” to Darrell and Edith Royal in their home after their daughter’s death, and then again nine years later after their son’s death.

Without Willie, there would be no Trigger. And it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that without Trigger, there would be no Willie.

Overlooked No More: Lillian Harris Dean, Culinary Entrepreneur Known as ‘Pig Foot Mary’ in the NYT — she was from the Delta, and from the baby carriage she used to transport, served her fellow New Yorkers fried chicken, corn, and pig’s feet.

Harris Dean became a philanthropist later in life. In 1927 she gained attention for cooking “an old fashion pig foot dinner” for the Working Women’s League. An article in The Age about the event described her as “one of the wealthiest women in Harlem.”

She left New York in 1923 and traveled for six months, stopping in places like Yellowstone National Park and Los Angeles, The Age wrote.

She died, on July 16, 1929, in Los Angeles while visiting friends. By then she had amassed a fortune of $375,000 (about $5.5 million today).

Willa Jean, New Orleans

above: biscuit layers, at Willa Jean 2015

The Grey in Savannah is selling their (highly laminated) biscuits on GoldBelly now; the cost: $75 for a dozen.

You know what this world needs? A Google Map of of restaurants with laminated biscuits. The first two I’m thinking: Willa Jean in New Orleans, 1885 Grill in Chattanooga… (and P.S. Willa Jean is also on GoldBelly)

William Eggleston has founded a Memphis-based foundation to preserve his art.

Here’s what Camille Walala did with this Ft Smith, Arkansas gas station

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! xoxo!