Pecan pie, one of the South’s most hallowed desserts, turns out to be a relative newcomer to the southern table. The story of this holiday favorite connects us to a deeper history in the South where Native horticulture, African American ingenuity, and European cooking all come together on the plate.
Farming is not new to the Long family. Harold Long’s Cherokee ancestors have been cultivating the western North Carolina landscape for thousands of years. At their mountain farm of today, the Longs grow out native heirloom varieties, then save the seeds, and assemble garden kits for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to distribute to tribal members. Harold and Nancy Long’s lifelong commitment to caring for the land and for their community recently led the North Carolina Extension Service to name them North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year.
Native farmers were growing organic long before the words sustainable and permaculture were invented. Last week we visited a living example of native organic wisdom, the three sisters garden at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia.
At Red Dirt Productions, we love to travel, and we love to eat. The restaurants on this map satisfy not only bodily hunger but also the pangs of longing for flavors of family and place.
For centuries, cornbread has soothed the soul and nourished the body of southerners. Together these three classic cornbread recipes reflect changes in the food landscape across time.
In these photographs, Marion Post Wolcott captures not only the corn harvesting but the connections between communities in rural North Carolina.The six photos highlighted here illustrate an age-old and essential endeavor, crossing the boundaries of class and race. While caption cards provide the title and other information about each photograph, ultimately the photos tell the story.
by Kensie Gaspard
The cowpea is about to have its moment. Luckily we have a front row seat.
For collard connoisseurs, the small town of Ayden, North Carolina is ground zero. Not only is it home to Bum’s Restaurant, the Skylight Inn, and the Collard Shack – three firmly rooted establishments in the canon of BBQ and greens – but every September heralds a three-day long celebration of the humble brassica—the Ayden Collard Festival
The true stars of the Southern table are our vegetables. While fried chicken and barbecue may get more press, vegetables feed the Southern soul. To a child of the South nothing tastes like the sweet potatoes, okra, greens, peas or beans from their native soil.
In 1979 in Charlottesville,Virginia, I bought my first book on Southern food and culture, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine: Recipes and Reminiscences of a Family by Norma Jean and Carole Darden. New to Virginia, I had just become intrigued with the idea of spoonbread, and who could resist strawberry wine?