Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce
2012 Southern Foodways Symposium
October 19-21, 2012
October 18-19, 2012
*NEW! Check out or Barbecue Resources page where you'll find links to SFA’s barbecue bibliography, films, podcasts, and publications— including Cornbread Nation 2: The United States of Barbecue, and our Gravy food letter.
[Photo: James Willis, courtesy of SFA Founder Al Clayton.]
The fifteenth Southern Foodways Symposium will be held October 19–21, 2012, in and around the town of Oxford and on the campus of the University of Mississippi. The Delta Divertissement, now in its tenth year, will take place October 18–19 in nearby Greenwood and Cleveland.
Both events will explore the culture of barbecue.
Ten years back, the SFA staged its first barbecue-focused symposium. (James Willis, whose portrait tops this page, won that year’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award.) In the intervening decade, we’ve learned a lot. And we’re ready to share that knowledge.
It’s still true that much dialogue about barbecue focuses on tradition and intransigence. Yet barbecue, like all products of culture, is not static. It evolves. And so do we. In that spirit, the SFA staff has dedicated 2012 to revisiting the subject, adding new oral histories and films to our archive, while immersing ourselves in continuing barbecue education.
Barbecue speaks to the past, present, and future of the South. Stories of pitmasters—of the places they work, the smoke they conjure, the sauces they stir—evoke larger-picture American narratives of race, class, gender, labor, power, and community.
This year we booked speakers who look at barbecue through lenses that include animal husbandry, workers’ rights, cultural geography, literature, food science, and identity politics.
Eaters at this year’s Southern Foodways Symposium will get schooled in Southern barbecue traditions. From Brunswick stew to banana pudding, we’ll hit the high notes, while traveling from Texas to the Carolinas and from Mexico to Memphis.
The pig will get its due. But so will other beasts. Join us as we revel in smoke-perfumed oysters, cows, fish, and fowl.
And yes, just in case you’re wondering—we will serve vegetables.
Adventurous drinkers will tipple Tennessee whiskey from a new-guard distiller, sip California rosé vinified to complement wood smoke, and slake their thirst with Arkansas-sourced sparkling water.
Artistic expressions of food culture continue to enthrall your SFA programming team. This year, we’ve commissioned a puppet theater homage to pitmasters, with live orchestral accompaniment.
These events provide opportunities for thinkers, writers, cooks, and eaters to come to a better understanding of American regional culinary culture. Lectures and performances, staged on the University of Mississippi campus, and at locations around the city of Oxford, will be amplified by informal breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
The Delta Divertissement begins in Greenwood on Thursday, October 18, at noon, and concludes on Friday, October 19, at ten in the morning.
The Symposium will formally convene at noon on Friday, October 19, and close at noon on Sunday, October 21.
To register, you must be a current SFA member. Members on the rolls July 30 will receive an email on July 31 with a link to the ticket cart. Tickets go on sale August 1 at 10 a.m. CST. Cost for the symposium is $595, inclusive of all meals and lectures.
You must be a 2012 current member of the SFA before purchasing a ticket to attend the symposium. Symposium tickets are not refundable or transferable. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. When all spaces have sold out, the SFA will maintain a waiting list of individuals interested in attending the event. If you must cancel your reservation for any reason, please request cancellation by contacting email@example.com. If someone on the waiting list is willing to purchase a cancelled ticket, then we will refund the purchase price minus the $100 cancellation fee. The waiting list closes on Friday October 5, 2012. No tickets will be cancelled and refunded after that date.
And now for the legal lingo: No refunds, at all, even if cancellation of the symposium is precipitated by an act of God. We’re serious. Triple check your calendar before you register. Must be 21 or older to attend. Symposium participants agree to indemnify, save, and hold harmless the Southern Foodways Alliance and the University of Mississippi from any loss, liability, damage, or cost, including attorney fees, they may incur arising out of or related to his or her participation in the event, whether caused by the negligence of the SFA or the University of Mississippi or otherwise.
HOST AND DONORS
Host for the symposium is the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
Contributors to our efforts include Bouré, Chisholm Foundation, City Grocery, Collier and McKeel Distillery, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Mississippi, Fatback Collective, Foodways Texas, Honey Bee Bakery, LOFT Foundation, Lyric Theater, and Media and Documentary Projects at the University of Mississippi.
Also supporting the cause are Mississippi Delta Community College Culinary School, Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery, R&B Feder Charitable Foundation for the Beaux Arts, Southside Gallery, Tuck Beckstoffer Wines, Wellspring Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and Zingerman’s.
The primary donors that support the Southern Foodways Symposium are:
Biltmore Estate Wine Company
Blackberry Farm Taste of the South
Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco® Brand Products
Mountain Valley Spring Water
Order of the Okra
Piggy Bank Dinner Series
Royal Cup Coffee
Stir the Pot Dinner Series
Taqueria del Sol
For those who plan to arrive in Mississippi on Thursday, but do not plan to join the Delta Divertissement, here’s the scoop:
THACKER MOUNTAIN RADIO broadcasts a special edible edition live from the Lyric Theater
CARNIVORE’S DELIGHT DINNER dished by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo at Bouré on the Square
(By separate registration. Look for an email in late September with details on how to book a seat at this dinner. Pricing will be reasonable and availability will be limited.)
REGISTRATION begins at ten in the morning
ROYAL CUP COFFEE FIX—hold on to your SFA travel mug for the rest of the weekend
SNAG A COPY OF CORNBREAD NATION 6, smeared with sauce and signed by SFA contributors
DESAYUNO TEJANO, featuring brisket breakfast tacos from Texans Lolo Garcia and Tim Byres
THE POLITICS OF PROTEIN AND TOMATOES, in which workers’ rights activist Greg Asbed, cattleman Will Harris, and pig preservationist Nick Pihakis hold forth
STATE OF THE NATION: SFA membership meeting, led by board president Sara Roahen
FRIDAY'S MAIN EVENT
TED OWNBY AND GLENN HOPKINS WELCOME all to Barbecue Nation
RANDALL KENAN explains why it is that, in the South, “pigs are us”
COZY ANDREW MICHAEL CORNER LUNCH presented by the Order of the Okra, cooked by Andy Ticer and Mike Hudman, with guest of honor Desiree Robinson
THE PIG IS THE PLACE TO START, argues Mark Essig
AND THEN YOU CASE THE JOINT, says Robert Moss
MONIQUE TRUONG AND JOHN DUFRESNE offer literary love letters to two beloved barbecue joints
COCKTAIL PARTY, featuring farm-fresh bites from Whitney Otawka and bathtub drinks from spirit savant Greg Best
EGERTON AWARD presentation for food-world work on social and environmental justice
SMOKE-SCREEN(ING) OF A DOCUMENTARY, honoring the 2012 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award winner, presented by Randy Fertel
THE BEST SCHOOL BUS RIDE YOU’VE EVER TAKEN, eight miles south down a dark country road
TAYLOR GROCERY CATFISH FEED, featuring Lynn Hewlett, master of the fry basket and saltshaker
WITH COLD-SMOKED, BUTTER-SIZZLED OYSTERS served on the porch by New Orleans seafood shaman Tenney Flynn
PASTRAMI BISCUIT BREAKFAST, featuring Sheila and Matt Neal, who smoke their own and dare you to remain a ham biscuit purist
EDDIE HUANG raps about barbecue, bao, and Taiwanese-Southern identity
BARBECUE AND TRUANCY have long inspired George Singleton
ELDER(ISH) STATESMEN LOLIS ELIE AND JOHN EGERTON proclaim the state of the barbecue union
A COMMONWEALTH PRIMER on Kentucky barbecue from Wes Berry
BARBACOA is the future, says Gustavo Arellano
SLOW-SMOKED INVOCATION by barbecue bard Jake Adam York
VIKING RANGE LUNCHEON featuring Ashley Christensen, the supreme pot stirrer
WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THOSE RIBS? Alton Brown puts on his lab coat and tells us
GET SFA TOMES SIGNED at Off Square Books
LINCOLN-DOUGLAS BARBECUE DEBATE featuring scribes Wright Thompson and Brett Martin
BAROQUE BITES from Drew Robinson whet our palates
BILTMORE TOAST to the SFA’s Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award winner
RETREAT TO WOODSON RIDGE FARM for an evening in the country
LODGE CAST IRON FEED by a cavalcade of smoked-meat masters, featuring Tim Byres, Samuel Jones, Patrick Martin, and Ed Mitchell
SHARDE THOMAS AND THE RISING STAR FIFE AND DRUM CORPS fan the flames
BENEDICTION by Jake Adam York
GRIME AND GLORY: PITMASTER PUPPETRY from Lyon Hill and Kimi Maeda
SLADE LEWIS AND THE IN-A-POKE ORCHESTRA provide musical accompaniment
TABASCO BRUNCH, in which Ryan Prewitt asks—and answers—the question, “How do you barbecue a fish?”
Book your symposium flights to and from Memphis (Tennessee) International Airport. Rental cars from all the major companies are available at the airport. SFA will post a rideshare board on our website for attendees who wish to coordinate travel to Oxford. All travel and contact information will be posted online, and attendees may contact one another to arrange rideshares. Rideshare coordination begins October 1.
A block of rooms has been reserved at the Downtown Inn, 234-3031, located just off the Oxford Square, and at the Inn at Ole Miss, 234-2331, located on the campus. The area code for all calls is 662. Other accommodations include:
Comfort Inn: 234-6000
Days Inn: 234-9500
Hampton Inn: 232-2442 (West) or 234-5565 (Conference Center)
Holiday Inn Express: 236-2500
Puddin’ Place: 234-1250
Super 8: 234-7013
Join the SFA for our tenth Delta Divertissement. This overnight trip to Greenwood, hometown of Viking Range, and Cleveland will explore the multicultural barbecue traditions of the Mississippi Delta and the connections between barbecue and blues music.
Delta Divertissement registration is limited to 40 people and sells out quickly. You must be a current SFA member and be attending the 2012 symposium to register. Cost for the Delta Divertissement is $185, inclusive of meals and lectures.
Rooms at the Alluvian require a separate registration and are priced at a discounted rate of $175. Upon confirmation of your Delta Divertissement registration, you will receive a password. With that in hand, you may reserve an Alluvian room by dialing 866-600-5201.
The Alluvian is a luxury boutique hotel in Greenwood, Mississippi, within walking distance of the Yazoo River. Original art by Delta artists and a vibrant lobby scene put the Alluvian at the center of contemporary Delta culture.
DELTA HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE
BAPTIST TOWN BARBECUE featuring ribs from Greenwood favorite Spooney Kenter and sides by Taylor Bowen Ricketts
WRIGHT THOMPSON waxes sweet and savory on his lifelong love affair with Delta foodways
DOWN ON DOCKERY FARM, where the blues was arguably born, Gentle Lee Rainey and McKay Dockery Clark will talk history
TAMALES, TALLBOYS, AND DANCING with music by Jimbo Mathus and the Tristate Coalition, paying tribute to blues great Charley Patton
FATBACK PIG PROJECT PIT DINNER, featuring whole hog from Rodney Scott and green, leafy things from Elizabeth Heiskell
JUKE TIME at Po’ Monkey’s Lounge with Willie Seaberry
BREAKFAST AND A MOVIE featuring Joe York’s new feature, Pride and Joy
Gustavo Arellano is the author of the long-running syndicated column, “¡Ask a Mexican!” as well as the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.
Greg Asbed has dedicated his career to human rights as a co-founder of the Florida-based Coalition for Immokalee Workers.
Wes Berry, a native of Kentucky, teaches creative writing at Western Kentucky University and has recently finished a book about barbecue in his home state.
Greg Best is a partner in Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta, where he oversees a pleasantly delirious selection of craft cocktails.
Alton Brown is a writer, chef, and television host with deep Georgia roots.
Tim Byres opened Smoke restaurant in Dallas after traveling across the United States on a self-guided barbecue walkabout. His new place is called Chicken Scratch.
Ashley Christensen, a chef and philanthropist, is the owner of Poole’s Downtown Diner, Chuck’s, Beasley’s, and Fox Liquor Bar, all in Raleigh, North Carolina.
McKay Dockery Clark is the granddaughter of Will Dockery, who founded Dockery Farms near Cleveland, Mississippi, in 1895.
John Currence of City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford serves on the SFA board of directors. His manic energy and muscle fuels all symposium food service.
Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, both Florida natives, are the keen chefs behind Animal and Son of a Gun restaurants in Los Angeles.
John Dufresne, who teaches creative writing at Florida International University in Miami, has published a plethora of books, including the novel Louisiana Power and Light.
John Egerton of Nashville is a founder of the SFA and the author of the seminal volume Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History.
Lolis Eric Elie is an SFA founder, the story editor of the HBO series Treme, and the author of Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country.
Mark Essig, who makes his home in the North Carolina mountains, is the author of Edison & the Electric Chair. Pig: A Nose-to-Tail History of Civilization is forthcoming.
Randy Fertel of New Orleans is president of the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation. He is author of the memoir The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak.
Tenney Flynn, the chef at GW Fins in New Orleans, is an authority on virtually everything that swims and is a dedicated advocate for Gulf Coast seafood.
Lolo Garcia has earned a statewide following for the scrambled-egg-and-brisket breakfast tacos he serves at his Plantation BBQ Trailer in Richmond, Texas.
Will Harris, who farms the south Georgia land his great-grandfather settled in 1866, practices sustainable and organic methods of animal husbandry at White Oak Pastures.
Elizabeth and Luke Heiskell run Woodson Ridge Farms on the outskirts of Oxford, where they raise vegetables, puppies, and daughters.
Lynn Hewlett is the proprietor of Taylor Grocery, arguably the South’s most fabled catfish house. His wife, Debbie, smiles a thousand-kilowatt smile.
Lyon Hill and Kimi Maeda are multimedia artists based in South Carolina who perform, construct, and animate puppets for their company, Belle et Bête. Both are veterans of the Columbia Marionette Theatre.
Glenn Hopkins is the dean of the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts, home of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the SFA.
Eddie Huang is a New York–based restaurateur, writer, and hip-hop enthusiast who won the Zora Neale Hurston Award as an undergraduate at Rollins College in Florida.
Mike Hudman and Andy Ticer, friends since grade school, work as co-chefs at two Memphis restaurants, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy.
Samuel Jones of Ayden, North Carolina’s Skylight Inn cooks whole hogs over wood, just like his grandfather did. You really should see Capitol Q, Joe York’s film on his family.
Randall Kenan, a novelist, short story writer, and essayist who teaches at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, captures eastern North Carolina in books like Let The Dead Bury their Dead.
Spooney Kenter of Greenwood, Mississippi, is a master of charcoal and brimstone, known throughout the Delta lowlands for his way with chicken and ribs.
Slade Lewis is an Oxford, Mississippi–based musician who has scored many of the SFA’s documentary films and also plays a mean bass.
Brett Martin is writing a book about twenty-first-century television dramas as an art form—that is, when he isn’t on assignment for GQ or Bon Appetit.
Patrick Martin runs Martin’s Barbecue Joint in his hometown of Nolensville, Tennessee, where he serves hot open-faced pork sandwiches on sweet hoecakes.
Ed Mitchell, who hails from Wilson, North Carolina, is choosy about his pigs; look for his newest restaurant to open in Durham, soon.
Jimbo Mathus, a founding member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, sings catfish music for the masses. His latest disc is Confederate Buddha.
Robert Moss of Charleston, South Carolina, is the author of Barbecue: The History of an American Institution and a contributor to the SFA’s Barbecue Digest blog.
Sheila and Matt Neal serve house-cured pastrami, homemade biscuits, and other breakfast and lunch favorites at Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, North Carolina.
Whitney Otawka, a “Top Chef” alumna, makes her home in Athens, Georgia, where she works wonders with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients at Farm 255.
Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is the co-editor of a forthcoming collection of academic foodways essays focused on the South.
Nick Pihakis, the “Nick” of Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, is a founder of the Fatback Collective, a group dedicated to leveraging the possibilities of the pig.
Ryan Prewitt, a native of Memphis, is the chef at Herbsaint in New Orleans, where blue crabs, frog legs, and redfish get the pedestals they deserve.
Gentle Lee Rainey, who was born on Dockery Farm, is the proprietor of Delta Fast Food in Cleveland, Mississippi, famous for its hot tamales.
Taylor Bowen Ricketts, the chef at Delta Bistro in Greenwood, Mississippi, interprets local bounty, from pastured quail to sweet potato greens.
Sara Roahen of New Orleans writes, collects oral histories, and serves as president of the SFA’s board of directors. She is the author of Gumbo Tales.
Desiree Robinson is the matriarch of the Cozy Corner Restaurant in Memphis, which her late husband founded thirty-five years ago.
Drew Robinson is the lead chef and pitmaster for Jim ’N Nick’s, a family of Southern cooking and barbecue restaurants based in Birmingham.
Rodney Scott, pitmaster at Scott’s Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, South Carolina, is the subject of the Joe York film Cut, Chop, Cook.
Willie Seaberry, known as Po Monkey, began his career as a farmer near Merigold, Mississippi. In 1963 he opened a juke joint in his home, and continues to welcome visitors today.
George Singleton, the South Carolina writer, skipped school as a teenager to patronize his favorite barbecue joint. His fifth collection of short stories, Stray Decorum, is out in September.
Sharde Thomas is the torch-bearer for North Mississippi’s fife-and-drum music, which she learned from her grandfather, Otha Turner.
Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com who embedded with the Fatback Collective for the 2011 Memphis in May World Barbecue Championship.
Monique Truong, a Vietnamese-born, Brooklyn-based writer who grew up in North Carolina and Texas, is the author of the novels Bitter in the Mouth and The Book of Salt.
Jake Adam York, a native son of Alabama, is a University of Colorado-Denver poet whose work explores, among other themes, the legacies of the civil rights movement.
Joe York, who has directed more than thirty short foodways documentaries, just finished his first foodways feature, Pride and Joy, set for nationwide PBS release in the spring of 2013.