The Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, will host the 14th annual Southern Foodways Symposium October 28-30, 2011, in Oxford, Mississippi, and on the campus of the University of Mississippi. This year’s theme is the Cultivated South. For much of our region’s history, agriculture has driven the Southern economy. From sugarcane plantations in the Gulf South to bean-and-corn subsistence farms in the Mountain South, our lives have long revolved around the cultivation of soils and the propagation of crops.
Recently much good work has been done on the documentation and preservation of our natural resources. We now know the names of imperiled strains of rice and their histories in the Lowcountry. We know the value of saving the seeds of shuck beans to ensure the future of Appalachian biodiversity.
Now it’s time to explore the culture of agriculture. To investigate the farm ideal, from both Christian and Muslim perspectives. To comprehend the unfulfilled promises of Forty Acres and a Mule. To reclaim the pimento as a vegetable. To welcome the return of olive trees to Georgia and South Carolina. Now it’s time to explore the Cultivated South.
Curious eaters will sample Lowcountry riffs on the prevailing farm-to-table ethic from Mike Lata of Charleston, South Carolina. And April McGreger, a daughter of Mississippi, now pickling and preserving in Carrboro, North Carolina. And Billy Allin, the locavore-in-charge at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Georgia.
Curious drinkers will taste tipples from the late Eugene Walter, bard of Mobile. And listen to the musings of Dave Wondrich and Jack Pendarvis, who know a thing or three about cultivating a taste for drink.
Artistic expressions of food culture continue to make our hearts go pitter-pat. Amos Kennedy, the Alabama letterpress maven, will pay broadside tribute to okra’s import. And on Sunday morning, following hard on the heels of the ballet we staged a couple years back, we’ve commissioned an opera, based on Leaves of Greens, a collection of poems from Ayden, North Carolina’s Collard Festival.
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, as well as in Oxford, at the Lyric Theatre and the Powerhouse, are amplified by informal lunches and dinners, served in and around the town.
The Delta Divertissement begins in Greenwood on Thursday, October 27, at noon and concludes on Friday, October 28, at ten in the morning. The Symposium formally convenes at noon on Friday, October 28, and closes at noon on Sunday, October 30. Host for the symposium is the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
The SFA’s mission is to document, study, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. That mission is grounded in the notion that food is a lens through which a region and culture as vast and varied as ours can be embraced and understood.
The primary donors that support the Southern Foodways Symposium are:
Biltmore Estate Wine Company
Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Que
McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco® Brand Products
Mountain Valley Spring Water
Royal Cup Coffee
Taqueria del Sol