This Week’s Various

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As always, all images unless otherwise noted copyright Deep Fried Kudzu. Like to use one elsewhere? Kindly contact me here.

Real Lane Cake, From The Original Recipe

Still life with Lane Cake and Fridge, my home, 2010: from the original Emma Rylander Lane recipe

Yewande Komolafe presents a new interpretation of Lane Cake in the NYT, “… takes all of fruitcake’s best elements — bourbon-soaked dried fruit, toasty pecans and shredded coconut — and weaves them into a rich, custardy filling set between three layers of tender vanilla cake” and does that Christina Tosi thing with it being devoid of icing on the outside.

The Bill Traylor ‘4 Figures & Basket in Blue’ in the last Slotin Folk Art Auction blew through the estimate of $40-60k — it sold at $105k.

San Antonio Riverwalk

San Antonio’s Riverwalk, from a visit in 2016

The San Antonio River Walk Association (SARWA) was granted permission from the city for canoers and kayakers to paddle the downtown section during weekends through November, via an outfitter (so it seems one may not just slip into the water). Maybe this can become an ongoing thing.

Pot Likker and Cornbread (and roll, and sweet roll) at Mary Mac's Tea Room, Atlanta GA

“Collard liquor and cornbread to mush it in,” just as Truman Capote spoke of, from a visit to Mary Mac’s in Atlanta, 2005

A library in Delaware (and other places across the nation) hosted a live reading / Zoom of Capote’s The Thanksgiving Visitor for the holiday.

Of course, the story begins with that high-ceilinged old house on the edge of town, living with his much-older maiden cousins and their bachelor brother, a necessity due to the drama with his mother and her situation. He makes sure to note that it was some of the happiest times of his childhood, mainly due to his relationship with the youngest of the cousins who was herself in her 60s:

As she was a child herself (many people thought her less than that, and murmured about her as though she were the twin of poor nice Lester Tucker, who roamed the streets in a sweet daze), she understood children, and understood me absolutely.

That’s Sook, and if that has you thinking it’s time to get the fruitcake going, same.

And I have to go back to his beautiful description of the first meal of the day, described in abundance:

Breakfast was our principal meal; midday dinner, except on Sundays, and supper were casual menus, often composed of leftovers from the morning. These breakfasts, served promptly at 5:30 A.M., were regular stomach swellers. To the present day I retain a nostalgic hunger for those cockcrow repasts of ham and fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried catfish, fried squirrel (in season), fried eggs, hominy grits with gravy, black-eyed peas, collards with collard liquor and cornbread to mush it in, biscuits, pound cake, pancakes and molasses, honey in the comb, homemade jams and jellies, sweet milk, buttermilk, coffee chicory-flavored and hot as Hades.

Truman Capote, Monroeville AL

The Capote historic marker in Monroeville, Alabama, 2006

If we can stay with Truman Capote for just a moment more, there’s this piece in the LA Times from 2006, It was the Joanne and Truman Show, about the the great friendship between him and Joanne Carson; the space in her house post-Johnny that she made for him; her support of him after he was made a social pariah after parts of his ‘Answered Prayers’ came out, and his of her after the divorce and the friends stayed by Johnny; the auction of his items by her at Bonhams, much of it going to pet-centered charities.

The ‘centerpiece’ of that auction? The unfinished short story Joanne asked him to write, about his chance meeting with Willa Cather one snowy day in New York. Vanity Fair published it in 2006.

I was still amazed to think that Willa Cather wore sable coats and occupied a Park Avenue apartment. (I had always imagined her as living on a quiet street in Red Cloud, Nebraska.) 

And back to the LA Times story, including mention of items on the block:

In addition to knickknacks such as embroidered pillows, pens and many Baccarat decanters, there are Polaroid photos, some taken by Carson, of Capote cavorting in her pool after a face-lift and 80-pound weight loss at a Florida spa. (He gained it all back, she said with a sigh.)…

“the baby blanket made by his Aunt Sook, who raised him; the Courreges jacket he wore to Studio 54; the tuxedo he wore to his famous Black and White Ball; his dancing slippers; and little notes he’d leave around the house, including one that simply reads, “I am a genuis.”

“Truman never could spell that word,” said Carson.”

On the Louisiana Landmarks New Orleans’ Nine list:

original Holy Cross School in the Lower 9th Ward, St. Alphonsus in the Lower Garden District, the B.W. Cooper buildings along Earhart Boulevard and the Bolden home in Central City, plus an 1860s era cottage on St. Andrew Street in Central City, and the French Benevolent Society tomb in Lafayette No. 2 Cemetery on Washington Avenue

Country Music, Gordo Alabama

Country Music Tue & Fri Night, Gordo AL, from a visit in 2011 (sign since removed)

I emailed Jack Lewis years ago and asked him to please please please give the world more Olde Surber Station Radio: A Bluegrass and Old Time Music Radio Show but said he didn’t have time as he was was off doing other things.  It was perfection and here’s the first episode. Friends: I’d like to make a Google map of old-time and bluegrass live shows. I’m talking corner-of-a-convenience-store-Friday-night-performances, private houses that open up for this kind of thing weekly or monthly, and opera houses, even though we’re not talking the opera or The Opry. Contact me, please, if you know of one, even if it’s not doing anything right now. 

Super random:

Hotel Talisi - real keys! Tallassee, AL

Hotel Talisi keys, 2005

The founder of Bookshop, a website utilized to order books from local-indie shops across the country (though I don’t see Square Books in Oxford, I do see Thank You in Birmingham): I’m trying to un-disrupt the industry. Most Silicon Valley companies are trying to disrupt the industry, which means that all the old players go out of business and they create a new way of doing it,” he said. “We’re trying to bring in force all the dinosaurs. We’re trying to keep all the dinosaurs alive.”

Robb Report on 10 Great Bakeries Delivering… and this: (Domique Ansel): Christmas Morning Cereal. This is no simple box of Cheerios. Every year, Ansel sells cartons packed with puffed rice that’s covered in caramelized milk chocolate and mixed with smoked cinnamon miniature meringues and candied hazelnuts. It’s crunchy and sweet with just the right amount of spice from the cinnamon. It’s not quite on sale yet, but you can get notified on his site about when you can buy this addictive snack.

Black Bottom Pecan Pie recipe from Erin McDowell

This year’s retail holiday windows in New York

So interesting to see what architecture Australians are critical of

Here’s The Ultimate Texas Tacopedia from Texas Monthly, which — unless I missed something, only mentioned the Panhandle once, with a place in Amarillo that does one with tofu

James Meredith has plans to open a museum in Jackson that will “chronicle his life’s accomplishments, house an archival library and provide a sanctuary for those wanting to study the Bible”

The NYT virtual architecture tours of the city

Houston’s Orange Show Center for Visionary Art has a new exec dir and he comes from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami where he was deputy director

Austin’s Sand Dollar House is on the market, and just took a big price drop. That kitchen island, though…

In the National Review, Joseph Epstein with Our Literary Drought reaches back to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (one of my favorite, favorite books) in answering ‘What is the last novel you can think of that caused a genuine stir?‘ — and laments that The AtlanticHarper’s, and “most sadly” The New Yorker have given incredible space “to politics, to the detriment of their former cultural and literary interests.” And here’s the NYT’s 100 Notable Books of 2020.

Mississippi Magazine named Faulkner’s Rowan OakBest Historic Site 2020”.

On the market in Jarreau, Louisiana: This is the world’s premier collection of Louisiana French Creole and Acadian architecture, art, decorative arts and furniture…4 houses, 3 auxiliary buildings, 75+/- acres on 4 parcels of property…Maison Chanel bears witness to Louisiana’s unique cultural heritage and constitutes the single most comprehensive repository of architectural elements, decorative arts, and material culture from the region before 1830.’

There is an indigenous horse sanctuary, Sacred Way, in the Florence, Alabama area that also includes an interpretive center/museum.

Fast Company with The Nine Most Gorgeous Dishes to Serve at Thanksgiving and  I’m totally making the fluorescent jello for one night of Chanukah.

Coincidentally, that recipe is pulled from Stefan Gates’ The Extraordinary Cookbook, with a jacket that looks a lot like David Sedaris’ new The Best of Me (Amazon here, Square Books here)

Hotel Talisi (Tallassee, Alabama) is on the cusp of being declared a public nuisance. It’s gone from a fab, unique small-town hotel experience with a restaurant serving some of the world’s great fried chicken to a guy setting it on fire (by accident, kinda-sorta), to insurance drama and a rebuild, to it becoming a, well, hostel for feral cats with fleas

Ah, Florida’s The Villages, in this new Some Kind of Heaven:

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

Appalachia, 2019

Watched Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix last week. At this point, not sure why so much weight was put on this being a story set in Appalachia.

This review at KUNC mentions: “there is no culture, there’s only the strife. This family may be JD Vance’s home, but nothing of the beauty of Appalachian life pokes through.”

— and indeed, it’s just filled with misery. People behaving badly generally, profanity throughout, and bad parenting that would probably generationally necessitate therapy. Have you ever been in a social setting (ball game, grocery store) and witnessed people talking to each other in an unnecessary yell? There’s just so much underpinned angst that the person’s voice modulates that way? These people’s default setting is…that. If I hadn’t known this was set where it was, with those accents, it might as well have been set in some poor community probably anywhere else in this country.

Other reviews: Cassie Chambers Armstrong in The Atlantic with Hillbilly Elegy Doesn’t Reflect the Appalachia I Know; A.O. Scott’s I Remember MaMaw in the NYT; Searching for the Real Appalachia in the Washington Post; some reactions from the local press where the movie was set; and particularly stinging, WBUR’s Sean Burns’ Films ‘Uncle Frank’ And ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Are Two Cluelessly Condescending Hollywood Trips To The Heartland:

It’s amusing to note that Howard grew up in front of the cameras on “The Andy Griffith Show,” as the blighted Ohio of his “Hillbilly Elegy” is like Mayberry’s oxy-addled inverse, full of boarded-up small businesses and junk cars in the yard. Yet, it feels as false as any sitcom set, a Hollywood vision of poverty…

which ends with “Devoid of politics or insight, “Hillbilly Elegy” is just the story of how some jerk from Yale got a fancy job at a law firm.”

Also: the bottom of the NYT review gives these details:

Hillbilly Elegy
Rated R. Fussing, fighting, cussing, smoking. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes.

“Fussing, fighting, cussing, smoking”

Well, yeah. That’s about right.


Delta Dog Trot by Bill Dunlap, Alluvian Hotel, Greenwood MS

The Alluvian, 2018

The Local Palate with 12 Historic Southern Hotels and they must be going by some weird interpretation of the word ‘historic’ (just in an older 20th C building?) because The Alluvian in Greenwood (est 2003) is there, along with the Redmont in Birmingham — nothing against the Redmont (I’ve stayed there too) but there’s not much about it even whispering ‘historic’ albeit the operation has been in existence since 1925…just look at the pics on their site. They include the Watergate Hotel in DC, but not the Greenbrier? No love for the St Anthony or the Driskill? Granted, the 21c in Louisville is in a cool downtown building, but I’ve stayed there and there’s not a whole lot lending a particularly historic vibe to one’s stay.

Mt. Ararat, Nashville TN

Mt Ararat Cemetery Nashville, where several Edmondson monuments had been installed, 2011

On Historic Nashville’s 2020 listing of the Nashville Nine endangered properties:

Tennessee State Prison – 6410 Centennial Boulevard
The Henry Allen and Georgia Bradford Boyd House — 1601 Meharry Boulevard
Z. Alexander Looby House — 2012 Meharry Boulevard
Eldorado Motel Sign — 2806 Buchanan Street
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church — 908 Monroe Street
Chaffin’s Barn — 8204 TN-100
The Barbizon Apartments — 2006 Broadway
The Firestone Building — 2416-2418 West End Avenue
William Edmondson Headstones — Located in various Davidson County cemeteries

Irondale Cafe, Irondale AL

Advice at the Irondale Cafe, Irondale AL, 2017

This review in the AJC for the Magnolia Room Cafeteria ” a temple to trout amandine, congealed salad and yeast rolls” in Tucker:

As a South Georgia kid who thought Sundays at Morrison’s was the be-all and end-all, I’ve been a fan of Magnolia Room from the beginning, when I had to explain to a couple of non-Southern colleagues that the gelatin creations were “salads,” not desserts…

As Squires so aptly stated, the beauty of a cafeteria is that you can sit down and eat within minutes. You can ask for a little more gravy, or say, “Oh, I want that piece.”

Anthony's, Bainbridge GA

Anthony’s in Bainbridge GA, from a visit in 2011

Eater Atlanta wonders if there is such a thing as Georgia barbecue — talk about sweet sauce, pork over brisket, and collards being a popular side. And:

“I think there is a claim to what Georgia barbecue is,” says Texas native Jonathan Fox. Fox and his twin brother, Justin, own Atlanta’s popular barbecue restaurant Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in the city’s Candler Park neighborhood. But to find what could be considered true Georgia barbecue, Fox says, people need to venture outside of Atlanta.

“Atlanta’s a tough city. It’s a transplant city. The further you get out of the city, you see more of what I would call ‘Georgia barbecue.’ You kind of lose that true sense of what barbecue is in larger metropolitan areas,” Fox explains. “I don’t think, unfortunately, Georgia would rank up there with your Carolinas, or your Memphis, your Texas.”

HBO’s official trailer for Alabama Snake:

At Guernica, Leah Hampton’s Lost in a (Mis)Gendered Appalachia:

Nina Simone was a mountain girl, is what I’m saying. I am asking you to picture her that way, to set aside what you know of this iconic artist and think of her rural beginnings. Her entire experience, her whole world before jazz, before fame and legend and fight, was the Jim Crow South and the hills of the Blue Ridge. That little house in Tryon overlooks some of the oldest geological formations in North America. The railroad tracks she crossed every Saturday to attend her music lessons mark the boundary of the first Cherokee land seizures of 1767.

The latest Georgia Trust Places in Peril list has been released, and on it:

Ashby Street Theatre (Atlanta, Fulton County)
Atlanta Eagle and Kodak Buildings (Atlanta, Fulton County)
Blackshear City Jail (Blackshear, Pierce County)
Cherry Grove Schoolhouse (Washington, Wilkes County)
Cohutta African American Civic District (Cohutta, Whitfield County)
Downtown Toomsboro (Toomsboro, Wilkinson County)
Kiah House Museum (Savannah, Chatham County)
Old Monticello United Methodist Church (Monticello, Jasper County)
Terrell County Courthouse (Dawson, Terrell County)
Vineville Avenue Corridor (Macon, Bibb County)

Staircase, Square Books, Oxford MS

The staircase at Square Books, Oxford

The 2020 cover by Wyatt Waters for Square Books’ holiday catalog is perfect.

Of note, at their Rare Square, a first printing of Faulkner’s The Hamlet at $700; #46 of 200 Homecomings by Willie Morris and William Dunlap and signed by both at $250; a likely second printing of Helen Keller’s Let Us Have Faith, signed, at $650.

Joe Minter's African Village in America, Birmingham AL

from a visit with Joe in September

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts opens the exhibit  In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African American Art on December 12, and it goes through July 18, 2021.

Inspired by sculptor Joe Minter’s quotation referencing “art in the presence of 100,000 African Ancestors,” the exhibition …bridges North and South in a debut of newly acquired gifts from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Featuring 22 works, including an assemblage by Thornton Dial, sculpture by Joe Minter, and quilts by celebrated Gee’s Bend artists Lottie Mooney and Lola Pettway, this exhibition explores themes of origin, communal ritual, foresight, and spiritual reflection.

Chinese Restaurant, Selma AL

Chinese restaurant, downtown Selma AL, 2020

Podcast: listened to Splendid Table #721, ‘Let’s Talk Chinese American Food’ and this, from chef Lucas Sin: “I am so sick and tired of people telling me that American Chinese food made by Chinese Americans for the last 100-200 years or whatever it is, isn’t authentic. It’s such a silly way to characterize a cuisine…” and later, two points, “…a place of respect. You have to understand that these are real human beings are cooking this food and respect for the people making the food…” and “…second, a careful study of history. When you start to understand how important this cuisine was in sort of shaping American history…”

This is a big thing to glean from his thoughts here, especially, on recipes: “despite the fact that there’s so much Chinese food everywhere and there is remarkable similarity between the Sesame Chicken in Arizona and the Sesame Chicken in New York,  despite that fact there’s no headquarters saying “this is the recipe” all this information just passed through this diaspora, this network…and everybody just knows how to do these things…”

Sesame Chicken from the Chinese spot in the old (still steepled!) KFC next to the Goodyear tire store will be served in this home tonight.

Also: loved what he said about people coming in and saying they are “elevating” a certain type of food, which often makes me wince. “American Chinese food doesn’t need to be elevated…elevation sort of assumes that the person ‘elevating’ it has a higher than thou type of position, that they know better…”

Wrestling Signs, Hanceville AL

Hanceville AL, 2017

Texas Monthly with The Thrills of Houston’s 1970s-Era Friday Night Wrestling Come Alive in a Stunning Photo Book, on Geoff Winningham’s ‘Friday Night in the Coliseum‘.  I sent this to one of my IG friends who was getting his MFA at Georgia and is documenting this scene in more rural areas currently and is putting together a magazine on it, to be out early 2021. And  Bitter Southerner just posted A Night of All Star Catharsis about a group of wrestlers who perform in a West Virginia parking lot in a drive-up show.

Warm Chocolate Babka with Hazelnut Gelato and Blackberry Sauce, Saba, New Orleans

The warm, chocolate babka with hazelnut gelato and blackberry sauce from a visit to Saba in 2018

Alon Shaya is shipping babka — or you can pick it up in New Orleans. Also, he’s doing a virtual class on how to make his latkes on December 13.

NYT Cooking with salt-rising bread, a recipe borne from Appalachians without ready access to yeast.

Futuro House, Pensacola Beach FL

The Futuro in Pensacola Beach, 2018

Autoevolution has gorgeous pics of Futuro homes in its article mentioning the one that just came available in New Zealand

Darlene's Cookies

My friend Darlene’s platter at a cookie swap we went to in 2007

The NYT with how to put together the perfect cookie box this year, and really, it’s all about having different varieties included: fruity/jammy; sparkly and colorful; crunchy; chocolate; maybe w/ alcohol.

Fox Brothers BBQ, Atlanta GA

The frito pie at Fox Bros in Atlanta, 2014

Frito Chili Pie had a hand in starting Alice Waters‘ important work with reforming school lunches and food attitudes  (from her ’08 Edible Schoolyard):

Parked in the middle of the asphalt, this building sold soda pop to the children during their recess and lunch hour, and it also sold something called a “walking taco,” which is as perfect a symbol of a broken culture as I can imagine. Opening a plastic bag of mass-produced corn chips, the food workers would simply pour in a kind of beef-and-tomato slurry from a can. The kids would then walk away…

PS: that “beef and tomato slurry” has a name,

And goshamighty who else has ever called chili a “beef and tomato slurry” even if it’s from a #10 can off a Sysco truck? Hey, it’s Frito Pie weather and no one should let this dissuade them from — occasionally, according to one’s health tenets — enjoying what is most certainly one of this planet’s great culinary (maybe low-brow since one is traditionally eating it directly from a chip bag with a plastic spoon/spork (extra points if it came from a Friday night HS football game concession stand), but still…) comforts. 

It’s that “walking taco” — that **perfect symbol of a broken culture** as she put it — that got Alice to agree to develop the garden at the King School in Berkeley so that the students there could absolutely rightly have “experience-based learning that illustrates the pleasure of meaningful work, personal responsibility, the need for nutritious, sustainably raised, and sensually stimulating food, and the important socializing effect of the ritual of the table”

Edible Schoolyard (ESY) is in its 25th year now; from an article earlier this year about how there will be a new emphasis on eating choices and climate change: “We have 10 classes a week, roughly 30 students per class… it’s well over 250 people a week in each [kitchen and garden] class,” said Geoff Palla, the operations manager and senior garden teacher at King. Which means that, all told, King’s ESY teachers see about 500 students a week, or roughly half the school’s population of sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

PPS: Just going back to football game food for a sec: how about those rubbery cheap pickles from a wax paper sleeve featuring an anthropomorphic pickle on it…pretty sure those, stadium cheese, and stale popcorn make up the first three blocks of a high school football game bingo card.

Jared Small: Encounters Exhibit at the Huntsville Museum of Art

from the exhibit at the HMA, 2019

Memphis native Jared Small: New Work on view now through December 23 at Nashville David Lusk Gallery. I saw his Encounters: Southern Moments in Time at the Huntsville Museum of Art last year. Fab.

Shug’s bar mitzvah won’t take place as planned this coming weekend. We were advised by the shul medical committee that starting this week, no in-person congregating will be taking place due to the general uptick in contagion. We’re okay and agree with it as the well-being of our community (though we were going to keep it spaced and only minyan-size) absolutely comes first. I’ve tried to frame this whole thing since March as a positive: that the boys will have the most interesting stories to tell their kids and grandchildren. As it turns out, Shugie and Shug have decided to have their bar mitzvahs together later this year — I guess an unexpected plus in having them 15 months apart! We’ll be celebrating late 2021 and we’re all looking forward to that. Have a happy, healthy week, friends! xoxo!