Gravy

By Southern Foodways Alliance

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: Food

Open in iTunes


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast


Description

Gravy is a biweekly podcast that tells stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat.

Episode Date
Comfort Food
22:58

This week, we bring you Gravy's first foray into fiction. It's a story of macaroni and cheese and maternal love, set in the fictional Canard County, Kentucky. 

Robert Gipe is the author of the novels Trampoline and Weedeater. He teaches and coordinates the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community College. 

This is the last episode of our summer season. After a short hiatus, Gravy will return with new episodes in the fall. 

Aug 09, 2018
Agave Diplomacy
23:33

Bars mean different things to different people. For some, they are places to find community and discover new ingredients and flavors. They can serve as a gateway for cultural understanding. A group of bar operators in Houston, Texas, use their establishments as vehicles to foster conversation and educate their guests about our neighbors to the south in Mexico. Sean Beck, Bobby Heugel, and Alba Huerta use agave spirits to bridge gaps in divided times. Producer Shanna Farrell explores how their work has ignited interest in Mexican culture alongside craft cocktails. 

Jul 26, 2018
What Is Latino Enough?
29:58

Mine is a slightly funky ancestry: a Colombian mother, a Cuban father, a combination that leads many Latinos to say, “¡Que mezcla tan rara!” But even in saying the phrase myself, it’s clear that neither tongue works comfortably for me. My Spanish is passable, sure, but it is also glaringly self-conscious, mainly because it is a first language that began to fade during a boyhood in the South, despite my parents’ best efforts to preserve it. The fact that it evolved from a first language to a second one for lack of practice—for lack of commitment—evokes a mash of complicated feelings shared by anyone belonging to an immigrant family’s transitional generation who feels adrift between cultures. It begins as code-switching, but over time, the tools you need to switch back are harder to find.

Paul Reyes is the editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. 

Jul 12, 2018
Catfish Dream
24:26

When he was shut out of the industry during the 1980s catfish boom, Scott turned 160 acres of arable farmland into catfish ponds and built a processing plant of concrete and stainless steel atop the bones of an old tractor shed. In doing so, he marched into history. Scott used food as a weapon and a megaphone: feeding civil rights workers, employing dozens of his friends and neighbors, joining a class action suit against the federal government, and providing an example of perseverance for future generations. 

This episode is adapted from the book Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta by Julian Rankin (published by University of Georgia Press; Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place series). Learn more at www.catfishdream.com

Julian Rankin wrote this episode. Beau York of Podastery Studios in Jackson, MS, was the producer. 

Jun 28, 2018
The Price of Cheap Milk
19:16

When we pour a glass of milk, most of us don’t consider the economics that brought that milk from a cow to our kitchen. Reporter-producer Allison Salerno visited two women, friends and neighbors in southeast Georgia, who both grew up and spent their working lives on dairy farms. One woman watched this spring as auctioneers sold her family's cows and farm equipment. The other dairy woman has changed her business model to stay afloat. Their way of life is rapidly disappearing in Georgia and throughout rural America as milk prices remain low.

Jun 14, 2018
Native Strangers of the South
29:28

Writer Naben Ruthnum compares outsiders' expectations and assumptions about the South Asian diaspora to those about the American South. 

This week's episode is adapted from a lecture Ruthnum gave at SFA's Taste of the South at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. 

May 31, 2018
Where Kentucky Meets Somalia
24:55

Many Muslims in the United States feel the stings of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment on a daily basis. For them, safe public spaces are essential.

As many lament the death of the American mall, the International Mall on 8th and York Streets in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, provides a lifeline to thousands of resettled refugees from Somalia.

But this mall is more than a place to buy food, or a place where teenagers hang out. From playing dominoes, to watching soccer to catching up with community news the International Mall serves as a hub for Louisville’s Somali community.

May 17, 2018
A Message and a Verse
03:18

Gravy listeners, we invite you to join us in Lexington, Kentucky, June 21–23, for our annual SFA Summer Symposium. Today, listen to Kentucky poet—and Summer Symposium presenter—Rebecca Gayle Howell reading her poem "What Wealth Is." 

Visit southernfoodways.org to learn more about the Summer Symposium and to purchase tickets. 

Tune in on May 17 when we return from hiatus with a new episode. 

Apr 19, 2018
Subterranean Chop Suey
21:02

In the early 20th century, an Arkansan real estate developer named C.A. Linebarger had an idea. American was in the throes of the Great Depression, and the worst drought in recorded history gripped the heartland. Times were tough. But like many folks on the Ozark Plateau, Linebarger owned a cave. And like many folks with caves in their possession during Prohibition, he was going to make good with it. Thus, the Wonderland Underground Nightclub came to be.

It wasn’t uncommon to find booze or dancing or relics from civilizations gone by in these caves. But what made Wonderland different was that it served a very distinct kind of fare: chop suey.

Reporter-producer (and former Gravy Intern) Robin Miniter travels to Bella Vista, Arkansas to find the cultural threads that led to this dish being served along with chicken salad sandwiches and a side of big band tunes. In a story of policy and palate, she dives into to the attitudes that shaped this menu and shaped the white tourist imagination.

Mar 22, 2018
Hungry in the Mississippi Delta
37:41

While civil rights activists worked in Mississippi in 1964, they encountered a poverty they could never have imagined. People were hungry, starving to death from malnutrition, particularly in the Mississippi Delta.

Doctors and medical professionals, including Dr. Jack Geiger, joined together to form the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Geiger founded a community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he and his medical team wrote prescriptions for food, started a farm cooperative, taught nutrition classes, and ultimately reduced hunger in the region.

This episode was produced by Sarah Reynolds.

Mar 08, 2018
Hostesses of the Movement
39:35

The hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement: They were school teachers, church ladies, and club women. Their subtle contributions played a vital role in the change that was to come.

While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest, and safe rooms for plotting attacks on Jim Crow.

Rosalind Bentley is a longtime journalist, but she didn’t know how a very special aunt became one of those stealth contributors. She traveled to Albany, Georgia to learn more about how that aunt became one of the Hostesses of the Movement.

Feb 22, 2018
Dispatch from Duplin County
32:19

By the end of the twentieth century, hog farming had replaced tobacco as the backbone of eastern North Carolina's economy. Today, the hog industry is a source of both contention and pride in the area. In rural Duplin County, the home of Smithfield Foods, hogs outnumber people 40 to 1.

Open-air lagoons store massive amounts of hog waste, which is then sprayed over the surrounding fields as fertilizer. For decades, residents have claimed that these waste management practices cause a host of health issues, environmental harm, and loss of property value. 

Reporter-producer Otis Gray travels to Duplin County, where a group of concerned citizens believes that industrial hog farms disproportionately affect low-income communities of color. Residents and activists have now filed a civil rights complaint with the EPA, and they hope that their voices will be heard. 

Feb 08, 2018
Home with the Armadillo: The Austin Sound, with a Side of Nachos
26:25
Austin, Texas, calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World. Back in the 1970s, country music mixed with rock-and-roll to create the "Austin sound." Its cradle was the Armadillo World Headquarters, where the so-called hippies and rednecks came together over cold beer, cheap nachos, and cosmic cowboy sounds. Reporter Ryan Katz looks at the history of the Dillo and its legacy in Austin today.
Jan 25, 2018
Hidden in Plain Sight: Las Pulgas of New Orleans
27:21

When people think of New Orleans food, jambalayas, gumbos, and beignets usually come to mind. But with the arrival of thousands of Central American and Mexican immigrants after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Latin foods are increasingly present across the city…if you look in the right places. In 2011, Dix Jazz Market, part of a vending space colloquially calledLa Pulga, opened in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. With over sixty individual vendors and booths, you can find anything from knockoff soccer jerseys to used record players. Thirty of the vendors sell prepared foods, from tacos and carne asada to sopas and the classic Honduran dish, pollo con tajadas. Success fromLa Pulga led to the opening of a second market—the Westbank Pulga—just three miles away.

Meet Ivan, a vendor at the Westbank Pulga, who uses his profits to fund a support group for LGBT Latinx in the New Orleans area.  

Jan 11, 2018
Baptism by Biryani
24:58

If you want to see the American future, visit Greater Houston, the nation's most diverse major metropolitan area and home to the South's biggest city. Since the 1982 collapse of the oil boom, the city's sprawling and overbuilt subdivisions have attracted newcomers, and their food traditions, from around the world.

Reporter Barry Yeoman spent time with one of those families—and particularly with John Marthand, an immigrant from Hyderabad, India, and his 14-year-old, U.S.-born son, Joshua. The Marthand men bond in the kitchen, often while cooking biryani, a rice dish with origins as international as John's adopted home.

Dec 28, 2017
A Taste of Place: Whiskey as Food
24:25

When most people sit down to enjoy a pour of whiskey, they aren't thinking about where the grain that it is made with comes from, nor do they think much about how it's produced agriculturally. Though spirits are distilled from wheat, potatoes, rice, and even quinoa, many don’t view the end result as an agricultural product. The discussion about composition of whiskey’s mashbill is usually where the conversation about the grain begins and ends, creating a disconnect between the way in which we perceive the food on our plates and the alcohol in our snifters. When we do start to engage with this aspect of spirits in a meaningful way, however, we can start to notice their terroir.Reporter-producer Shanna Farrell explores how whiskey can have a sense of place, as seen through High Wire Distilling Company's use of landrace grains in their spirit production.

Husband and wife duo Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall founded High Wire Distilling in 2013, the first distillery in South Carolina since Prohibition. Their mission is to source the best possible ingredients to make small batch spirits. They work with the farm community, as well as with Anson Mills, to source the raw materials for their product. This is true of their Jimmy Red Bourbon, which has a terroir unique to the three farms on which it is grown. Their work in using landrace grains grown locally is a great example of the strong connection between spirit production and agriculture.

Dec 14, 2017
A Most Civil Union: from Reconstruction to Restaurateur
21:14
Brunswick, Georgia's The Farmer & The Larder restaurant is forward-facing with its menu, while paying homage to an agricultural legacy that reaches back to days of Reconstruction. Rose Reid reports the story of self-described "CheFarmer" Matthew Raiford's family connection to the land, and how he and his partner, Jovan Sage, navigate a dual venture on the Georgia coast.
 

Please note: The Farmer & The Larder's hours have changed since this story was reported. For details, please visit the restaurant's website

Nov 30, 2017
Stories from the Hem of my Mother's Apron
25:53

For Hannah Drake, it all started with a trip to Dakar, Senegal.

The author, poet, mother, and native Kentuckian was transformed by the communal experience of simply preparing and eating food with other women.

So occasionally she gathers a group of women for dinner. All the women have to do is bring a dish, along with their mother or sister. The goal: To cook and eat a meal with loved ones, and share stories and recipes.

Reporter and producer Roxanne Scott brings us today's story.  

Nov 16, 2017
Of Hunger and Humanity: Resilience on the Texas Coast
24:20

When Hurricane Harvey unleashed 30 trillion gallons of rain on Texas last summer, thousands of evacuees and first responders needed to be fed. Restaurants and commercial kitchens were turned into relief operations, and residents hauled their grills to rescue staging grounds. The response was extraordinary.

Reporting this episode of Gravy, Barry Yeoman followed two Texans-chef Bryan Caswell and his wife and business partner Jennifer Caswell-as they coordinated a food caravan from their Houston restaurant Reef to the ruined coast. Along the way, he met an immigrant crabber, a military veteran who takes injured warriors fishing, and a volunteer for the Christian ministry Mercy Chefs.

Nov 02, 2017
The Wise Family at Work: A Sound Portrait
34:35

Historically, African Americans played a central role in the nation’s agriculture system, and, through their labor and know-how on farms and plantations, in the very building of the American economy – particularly in the South. Of course, black people did much of that work in bondage, over more than two hundred years, followed by a century of sharecropping and tenant farming. Remarkably, in the early 20th century, black families owned 15 million acres, one-seventh of the nation’s farmland. Today, though, black farm ownership is down to about one million acres, and only one in 100 American farm families is black.

 This episode of Gravy is a sound portrait of an African American farm couple in North Carolina, Eddie and Dorothy Wise. For twenty years, they operated a small hog operation near the town of Rocky Mount, in North Carolina’s rolling Piedmont region. Producer John Biewen, host of the Scene on Radio podcast, visited the Wises many times in 2008 and 2009, and recorded Eddie and Dorothy as they went about their days and as Eddie worked with their herd of hogs. John assembled this documentary, which is mostly narrated by the Wises themselves.

 Update: In early 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture foreclosed on the Wises’ farm loan and evicted them from their land. The Wises accuse the USDA of systematic discrimination over more than two decades, saying that government officials set them up to fail and went out of their way to drive the Wises off. John Biewen tells that story in an investigative documentary, Losing Ground, produced in collaboration with Reveal and available on the Scene on Radio podcast.

 In September, 2017, Dorothy Wise passed away from complications of diabetes.

Oct 19, 2017
Booze Legends
26:31

Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar is accepted, even expected. And storytelling is a big part of that engagement.

But when it comes to origin stories behind cocktails, Wayne Curtis has noticed a shift in focus over the last ten years. Hand in hand with the recent cocktail revival and the increased professionalization of bartending, an obsession with fact over fancy has emerged. “I started hearing a phrase in bars that I don’t think had ever been uttered before inside a bar: ‘What’s your source on that?’”

In this episode of Gravy, Wayne Curtis reflects on what’s lost and gained as cocktail and spirits writers—as well as curious consumers—seek out well-supported history over well-spun stories behind the bar.

Oct 05, 2017
Kimchi and Cornbread
33:58

When you sit down for a meat and three in Montgomery, Alabama, say at the Davis Café, you choose from the menu and you get one plate all for you, but at a Korean table in Montgomery – or anywhere – your plates are all shared. And there are many of them. Meat and six or seven, you might say.

 

Since the Hyundai plant opened in Montgomery in 2005, Koreans have been moving there, some for work at the plant, but others because they see the growing community of Koreans and Korean businesses in this small capital city in Alabama. So, a small southern K-Town is cropping up in the strip malls along the Eastern Boulevard.

 

Reporter and producer, Sarah Reynolds travels to Montgomery to eat at several Korean tables. And Chef Edward Lee joins her – a Korean–American chef who made his name in Louisville, Kentucky. He borrows from Korean and American Southern cuisines to make collards and kimchi, grits and galbi. What’s happening in Montgomery reveals a shared hospitality and love of food between these two cultures.

Sep 21, 2017
Shad Stories: The Ebb and Flow of the Founding Fish
26:46

The American shad were once as plentiful in the water along the east coast as the buffalo were in the west. But after decades of overfishing and pollution, their numbers plummeted and Virginia outlawed commercial fishing of shad in the 1970s. Now, shad are returning to the Chesapeake Bay, due in part to scientists and waterman who have worked on a restoration project for the fish over the last twenty years. Shad are a keystone in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, a food source for animals as varied as other fish, eagles and dolphins. Helping them could help other species rebound, too.

The fish is also important for the Shad Planking, a Virginia political tradition that dates back to the 1930s. The event started in southeast Virginia with a few men gathering to cook shad on planks (where the name comes from) and talk politics. The Shad Planking eventually was taken over by the Wakefield Ruritans, a civic group, and grew to a popular event that would run out of tickets and have the governor flying in every April for the event. In recent years the numbers of attendees have dwindled. Like the shad, the Ruritans are trying to stage a come back, adding local wineries and breweries to attract a new crowd.

Sep 07, 2017
Pie by Another Name: The Burekas of Or Ve Shalom
26:06

Every Tuesday a group of women gets together at Or Ve Shalom Synagogue in Atlanta to bake hundreds of savory hand-held pies. They're called burekas, from the Turkish word Burek, which means pie.

Sephardic Jews trace their heritage to the countries around the Mediterranean including Turkey and medieval Spain; the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 forced Sephardic Jews to leave Spain and settle in other countries.

The weekly ritual of baking Burekas at the Or Ve Shalom Synagogue is a testament to the preservation of Sephardic Jewish culture in the American South.

Aug 24, 2017
Hostesses of the Movement
39:07

This week’s Gravy podcast looks at hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement. They were school teachers, church ladies and club women who were not direct in their assault of segregation, but nonetheless played a vital role in the change that was to come.

While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest, and safe rooms for plotting attacks on Jim Crow.

Rosalind Bentley is a longtime journalist, but she didn’t know how a very special aunt became one of those stealth contributors. She traveled to Albany, Georgia to learn more about how that aunt became one of the Hostesses of the Movement.

Aug 10, 2017
The Mala Project: Chinese Flavors, Tennessee Family
27:31

What happens when a white family in the American South adopts an 11-year-old Chinese girl who’s never eaten a meal other than Chinese in her entire life and has no intention of starting now? Fear and frustration on all sides give way to a solution in this fiery story of creating a family from strangers by cooking Sichuan food. Fongchong steers clear of traditional American food both inside and outside her new home, but eventually finds her place in the New Nashville by befriending other immigrants and refugees and their food, while remaining fiercely loyal to her own cuisine. 

Jul 27, 2017
Bluegrass Tacos
27:23

In the northwestern part of Lexington, Kentucky, just inside the city’s loop road, there is a little bit of Mexico. In all directions, there are signs in Spanish – a bakery, a restaurant, a grocery store, a daycare, a church. And just down the road more of the same, including a bilingual public library. But at the crux of any diaspora is food – the familiar flavor of the old home mixing with a new one – tacos, in this case. And Lexington, Kentucky is expressing just that.

 

At Tortilleria and Taqueria Ramirez, husband and wife team Alberto and Laura make their very Mexican tortillas from local Kentucky corn, farmed just down the road in Hardin County. They’re holding up an ancient tradition from Mexico with Kentucky’s help. In a small shop shop in Lexington, they pump out thousands of tortillas a week with an old tortilla-making machine they hauled all the way from Mexico nearly 20 years ago. They sell them one bag at a time – 28 tortillas per bag will cost you $1.90.

 

Dr. Steve Alvarez taught a class at the University of Kentucky last spring called Taco Literacy and sent his students out into the Mexican community to learn about politics and history and the cultural literacy of this food and these people – that Mexican foodways are southern foodways, too.

Jul 13, 2017
Separation of Church and Coffee
28:47

How many of us would be lost without our regular coffeeshop? In the age of wifi and telecommuting, cafes have become more than purveyors of lattes and cappuccinos. They’re the office, the community hub, and the conference room as much as the provider of our caffeine fix. And now—are they also a surrogate for the church?

In cities and towns across the South, an increasing number of the folks offering up latte art and high-end pourovers are devout Christians. Is it an unlikely and subtle tool for proselytizing? Or a more nuanced expression of 21st Century Christianity, intertwined with social events and professional endeavors. We sent writer T Cooper to explore the coffee scene in the famously bible-minded city of Knoxville, Tennessee, to find out.

 

Jun 29, 2017
Going Whole Hog in Israel
28:13

When you think about Israeli cuisine there are a few things that may come to mind; hummus or shawarma, shakshuka and baba ganoush. What probably doesn’t come to mind is pork. After all, Israel is the self-proclaimed home for Jews in the Middle East. A large portion of the population follows kosher law, which outlaws pork, shellfish, and mixtures of meat and milk.

 

On this episode of Gravy we go global to explore the spread of a prolific Southern food to an unlikely place: pork barbecue in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. We’ll take a look at the state of pork back home as well, learning about the relationship between Jews and pork in the American South, and how the nature of trayf barbecue is changing below the Mason Dixon line, as well as abroad.

Jun 15, 2017
How A Texas Vine Saved European Wine
29:08
Thanks to Texan viticulturist Thomas Volney Munson, you should probably think of Texas when you think of that French wine you're drinking. During an agricultural crisis in France in the late 1800's, his tough grafted Texan vines saved the industry from total collapse. And many of the vines in Europe are still growing strong from that rootstock today. This week's episode tells this story of T.V. Munson and how his obsession with grape vines saved old world wine.

 

May 31, 2017
Farmer's Blues
22:06

Imagine you’re a young person wanting to be a farmer. If you don’t inherit land from your family, the challenges of finding and affording farmland might make your dream a non-starter. The average farmer in the United States is in her late 50s, and much of this country’s farmland is at risk of development or buy-out for intensive monoculture.

In this episode of Gravy, Caroline Leland explores these challenges along with some of the keen individuals and organizations working to overcome them.

May 18, 2017
Halal Memphis
27:59

Chicken shawarma might not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of Memphis. This episode of Gravy takes us inside Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill to meet Mahmoud al-Hazaz, who made his home in the U.S. South after being forced to leave his native Syria.

Syria shares borders with Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. Those countries also share a history and—equally important for us—they share a larder. By peeling back the layers on Mahmoud’s story, producer Rose Reid get a picture of the miles traveled and hardships endured by other Middle Eastern immigrants to Memphis.

May 04, 2017
Booze Legends
26:34

Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar is accepted, even expected. And storytelling is a big part of that engagement.

But when it comes to origin stories behind cocktails, Wayne Curtis has noticed a shift in focus over the last ten years. Hand in hand with the recent cocktail revival and the increased professionalization of bartending, an obsession with fact over fancy has emerged. “I started hearing a phrase in bars that I don’t think had ever been uttered before inside a bar: ‘What’s your source on that?’”

In this episode of Gravy, Wayne Curtis reflects on what’s lost and gained as cocktail and spirits writers—as well as curious consumers—seek out well-supported history over well-spun stories behind the bar.

Apr 19, 2017
Corned Beef Sandwiches in the Delta
20:27

It’s the season for communal meals, like Easter dinners and Passover Seders. In the Mississippi Delta town of Greenville, members of the Hebrew Union Congregation synagogue have been hosting a community meal on the past 130 years. It brings together hundreds of Jews and gentiles from all over the Delta to share a corned beef on rye. 

In the past twenty years, Greenville’s once thriving Jewish population has dwindled to just a few dozen, and there wasn’t enough synagogue members to make the 1,500 sandwiches for the luncheon. So the Jews of Greenville got a little help from their friends - Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, and Episcopalians.

Each year the number of Jews in Greenville gets smaller. Some older residents have died. The children have moved to places like Atlanta, Jackson, and Memphis. Even Esther Solomon - the matriarch of Greenville’s Jewish community whose great-great grandmother started the tradition in the 1880s - is leaving after this year’s luncheon to be with her adult children in Atlanta. Solomon worries that even with the help of Christian volunteers, the days of the luncheon - and the Jewish community in Greenville - are numbered, and the 130-year old tradition of Jews in Greenville and the deli lunch will disappear.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 06, 2017
The Chili Powder Cheat: A Tex-Mex Story
29:39

 

Texas: the land of BBQ, breakfast tacos…and of course Tex-Mex. But what if we told you Tex-Mex wasn’t created by a Texan or Mexican, but a German immigrant? On this episode of Gravy, we tell you the story of William Gebhardt, the inventor of chili powder.

Gebhardt loved the chili con carne of the streetfood sold in the plazas of San Antonio. He adapted it back at his café, but quickly ran into a problem: chili peppers proved expensive and difficult to import. So he devised a solution. Gebhardt dried the peppers in an oven and used a hand-cranked coffee mill to grind them into a dust. He then mixed together the ground peppers with cumin seeds, oregano and some black pepper until he reached the right flavor. The end result? Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder.

As it spread, chili powder came to define the taste of Tex-Mex. Chili, enchiladas, fajitas, nachos are all dishes built on the spice. And today, Tex-Mex dominates; traditional cuisines of the region are less popular.

Gebhardt’s history is a typical inventor tale. But he essentially took what poor Mexican-American streetfood vendors made, changed it and sold it for wider consumption. And boy, did Gebhardt market the heck out of it. Gebhardt’s slogan was “that real Mexican tang.”

Ryan Katz looks into the issue of chili powder’s authenticity.

Mar 22, 2017
Southern Food Gets Christopher Columbus-ed
33:07

So much of our national culture—food, music, dance—has come from the South. Where would American dance be without Jane Brown? Where would American music be without Robert Johnson, the Delta blues player? Where would American modern food be now if you didn't have grits and fried chicken and biscuits on every menu around the country, from fine dining restaurants to fast food establishments?

But what happens if these cultural expressions become so generic as to no longer be associated with anywhere in particular?

Mar 09, 2017
Korean BBQ in Coolsville: A Memphis Report
20:39

What happens when Korean barbecue goes from suburban strip malls to restaurant rows in cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis? On the latest Gravy, new host (and old SFA director) John T Edge reports from DWJ Korean BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, where kalbi (grilled beef short ribs) is the money dish.

Looking back to his grad school days, when he wrote a paper about the Italian-inspired Memphis dishes barbecue pizza and barbecue spaghetti, Edge argues that this traditional-seeming barbecue town has long been a hotbed of multicultural experimentation and innovation.

Feb 23, 2017
Reclaiming Native Ground
29:03

For centuries, the bayous and lowlands of coastal Louisiana have fed the Point-au-Chien Indian Tribe. From cattle to crabs, oranges to okra, the fertile landscape provided almost everything they needed to eat. But now, the land is disappearing,  and the Point-au-Chien are joining together with other tribes to figure out what to do next. In this episode of Gravy, Barry Yeoman reports on the rich food traditions of tribes in South Louisiana, the threat to them posed by coastal land loss, and intertribal efforts towards solutions.

Feb 09, 2017
Ironies and Onion Rings: The Layered Story of the Vidalia Onion
28:43

If you know and love the Vidalia onion—an onion sweet enough, its fans say, to eat like an apple—you likely also know it as a product of Georgia, as proudly claimed as the peach. But the story of the Vidalia’s popularity is far more complex than just one of a local onion made good. In this episode of Gravy: an onion’s success story, born of clever marketing, government wrangling, technological innovation and global trade.

Jan 26, 2017
Hungry in the Mississippi Delta
37:50

While civil rights activists worked in Mississippi in 1964, they encountered a poverty they could never have imagined. People were hungry, starving to death from malnutrition, particularly in the Mississippi Delta.

Doctors and medical professionals, including Dr. Jack Geiger, joined together to form the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Geiger founded a community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he and his medical team wrote prescriptions for food, started a farm cooperative, taught nutrition classes, and ultimately reduced hunger in the region.

Jan 12, 2017
ENCORE: The Emotional Life of Eating
23:13

Many of the stories we hear and tell about food are positive—food’s power to nourish, to comfort, to bring people together. But it also has the potential to cause shame, fear, disgust and a whole host of other uncomfortable emotions. Today on Gravy: personal stories around food that aren’t so sweet.

These are the kinds of stories Francis Lam wanted to explore for a presentation he gave at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual Symposium. Francis is an editor at large at Clarkson Potter Publishers and a New York Times Magazine columnist. He’s also someone who’s spent a lot of time eating in the South and writing about it. (You can check out some of his SFA oral histories about Biloxi, Mississippi’s shrimping industry here.) Francis was curious about the food stories that often go untold because they deal with topics we’d prefer not to talk about.

Dec 29, 2016
A Tale of Two Krauts
29:42
Sarah Reynolds takes us into the kitchens of Louise Frazier and Sandor Katz to learn how fermenting vegetables has helped them both carry on through illness and aging. Frazier learned to ferment from her mother in the 1920s, while Katz studied the the practice after moving to rural Tennessee from New York City.
Dec 15, 2016
The Southern Story of Coca Cola (Gravy Ep. 51)
25:25

You might think of Coca Cola as an iconic American brand… and you’d be right. But: it was born in the South. How did Coke’s Atlanta birthplace shape what the soft drink became? And how has Coke shaped the South? It’s a story that includes many surprising twists turns, from Civil War wounds to temperance movements, racist fears to philanthropy, small town soda jerks to Peruvian coca farmers.

 

Dec 01, 2016
Beyond the Golden Leaf (Gravy Ep. 50)
26:02

For generations, farmers in western North Carolina have relied on tobacco as a core crop, their lifeblood. It was more than just income, though: tobacco supplied these families with a cultural backbone, a way of ordering their year—and their meals. So: what’s happening to that culture as the tobacco industry has changed? In this episode of Gravy, radio producer Jen Nathan Orris tells the story of two farmers following different paths, and how food is part of the solution for each.

Nov 17, 2016
Maize Migrations (Gravy Ep. 49)
25:22

Corn is a ubiquitous part of Southern food—from bread to whiskey. But how did it get to be that way? In this episode of Gravy, we go on a hunt for the origins of corn, and how it came to be so fully embedded in the South. Stephen Satterfield is a fifth generation Atlantan who can trace his ancestors back to the plantations on which they were enslaved. His family has been eating corn for more than a century. In this story, Stephen takes us along in his quest for corn’s prehistory. On the way, he stumbles upon some delicious ideas about corn’s future too.

Nov 03, 2016
Transplanted Traditions: From Southeast Asia to North Carolina (Gravy Ep. 48)
27:15

In Chapel Hill, there’s a farm that’s much more than just a spot to grow food: it’s a gathering place for refugees, including a group of Karen teenagers from Burma. In this episode of Gravy, those teens report on the farm, their lives, and the ups and downs of trying to be both Karen and American.

Radio producer Alix Blair spent a week teaching Ree Ree Wei, Hla Win Tway, Talar Hso, Aw Kaw Joon, Eh Paw (who goes by Tatha), Kawla Htee, and Hickrihay Htee about the basics of radio recording. She sent them off to interview one another, and tape themselves at home and around the farm. From pop songs on the radio to intimate moments in the kitchen with their families, they provide us, in this episode, with a little glimpse into their world.

Oct 20, 2016
What Is White Trash Cooking? (Gravy ep. 47)
27:32

In 1986, Ernest Matthew Mickler of Palm Valley, Florida, published White Trash Cooking. It was a loving ode to his people—rural, white, working-class and poor Southerners—and their recipes: tuna casserole, baked possum, white-bread tomato sandwiches.

Mickler died of AIDS in 1988 at age 48, but White Trash Cooking continues to sell. In this episode, Sarah Reynolds explores its lasting influence. 

Oct 06, 2016
Repast (Gravy Ep. 46)
36:08

One spring day in 1965, a waiter in Greenwood, Mississippi gave an interview for an NBC television documentary. What he said has made him an unlikely Civil Rights hero… and the subject of an opera oratorio. In this episode of Gravy, the story of that waiter, Booker Wright, put to the music written about him.

Sep 22, 2016
Dancing the Shrimp Dry: How Chinese Immigrants Drove Louisiana Seafood (Gravy Ep. 45)
25:45

Imagine this: deep in the Louisiana wetlands, a wooden platform the size of three football fields, covered in shrimp, drying in the sun… which are being danced on by Chinese immigrants, to rid them of their brittle shrimp shells. Now multiply that vision by a hundred, and you have some idea of the vast dried shrimp industry that existed in South Louisiana in the late 19th century. In the new episode of Gravy, Laine Kaplan Levenson, host of Tripod, brings us a story of Chinese immigration, family businesses, and how dried shrimp globalized Louisiana’s seafood industry.

Sep 08, 2016
The Leftovers In A Coal Miner's Lunchbox (Gravy Ep. 44)
31:49

For decades, Ronnie Johnson woke up in the late afternoon, and fixed a lunch to bring with him 2,000 feet underground, as he worked all night in a coal mine. In this episode of Gravy, his son, Caleb, tells the story of the evolution of his father’s lunchtime ritual, as the mining industry in Alabama has changed.

Caleb tells a personal narrative of his dad’s lunches and the logistics of eating a meal so far underground, but it’s also one of a family reckoning with a changing economy, and the story of coal’s impact on Alabama.

Aug 25, 2016
An Apple Quest (Gravy Ep. 43)
26:10

You’ve heard of explorers discovering new lands, but new… fruits? Fruit exploring has a long and abundant history, including in the American South, a region once rich in apple orchards. In this episode of Gravy, a couple of young fruit explorers scour the South on a hunt for the perfect cider apple. Reporter Mary Helen Montgomery takes us on their search, and along the way delves into the little-known story of apple-growing and cider-making in this region.

Aug 11, 2016
Schnitzel and the Saturn V (Gravy Ep. 42)
33:43

How did Huntsville, Alabama become home to a whole host of German restaurants? It has more to do with rocket science, than with Southerners’ love of spaetzle. In this episode of Gravy: a story of space exploration, World War II, nationalism—and the food that emigrated to Alabama along with a rocket scientist named Werner von Braun. Reporter Dana Bialek explains how his arrival in the South not only led America into the space race; it led Huntsville into an ongoing fondness for schnitzel.

Jul 28, 2016
ENCORE: Dinner at the Patel Motel (Gravy Ep. 33)
0

We stay at them around the South and across the United States: Day’s Inn. Best Western. Quality Inn. But there is a food world behind the scenes at some motels that most people are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, a partnership with the Post & Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, we delve into that world. Hanna Raskin brings us the story of how so many motels came to be owned by families from the Gujarat region of India, and the secret cooking they do to keep their culinary traditions going here in the United States.

 

Jul 14, 2016
Fish Camps: Fried Seafood and Family in a North Carolina Mill Town
22:46

For years in Gaston County, North Carolina, just west of Charlotte, there was a local tradition on Friday or Saturday night: Get the whole family in the car, and head to the fish camp.

A fish camp is not what it sounds like. You don't fish there. You don't camp there. Instead, it's a place to eat—a simple, family-owned seafood restaurant.

For much of the twentieth century, these restaurants were a centerpiece of family life and social life. Nowadays, though, they're hard to come by. Mary Helen Montgomery explores the role fish camps once played in Gaston County communities and the causes for their recent decline.

Jun 30, 2016
A Seafood Phenomenon: the Wonder of Alabama Jubilees (Gravy Ep. 40)
22:02

Imagine: crabs, fish, eels—a whole team of sea creatures—rushing towards the shore, and then sitting there, as if waiting to be caught. This isn’t some fisherman’s daydream. It really happens in Alabama’s Mobile Bay. In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of the Jubilee, a rare natural phenomenon that provides local residents with a bounty of seafood.

Jun 16, 2016
The Middle East in Music City (Gravy Ep. 39)
28:21

The pride of Nashville: honky tonks and… Halal lamb? The area of the city known as Little Kurdistan contains a whole culinary universe that many people—even those who live in the city—are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, we partner with Jakob Lewis of the podcast Neighbors from Nashville Public Radio. Jakob takes us on a tour of the Kurdish part of Nashville with Shirzad Tayyar, a resident who’s made it his mission to make his corner of the city better known by everyone.

Jun 02, 2016
What’s Growing in Mossville? (Gravy Ep. 38)
31:37

The residents of Mossville, Louisiana have long prized self-sufficiency. Founded by freed slaves in the 1700s, Mossville was a place where everyone grew their own fruits and vegetables, caught fish, and hunted. African American families built the town from the ground up, and the land provided so well for them that, even into the 20th century, many didn’t realize they were technically “poor.” And then: the petrochemical industry moved in.

In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of Mossville, its gardens and fisheries, and the uneasy relationship that’s evolved between residents and industry.

May 19, 2016
Halo Halo: Growing up “Mix Mix,” Filipino in the American South (Gravy Ep. 37)
26:14

When Alexis Diao’s father arrived in Tallahassee, Florida, he couldn’t even find coconut milk—let alone many other ingredients to make the Filipino food of his home. But there was an even bigger problem: he didn’t know how to cook. His feeling of remove from everything familiar was intensified; he was in a new land with unfamiliar foods, and not a clue how to cook them.

In this episode of Gravy, Alexis ponders how her family and others made a culinary home for Filipinos in the Florida panhandle, and how to impart that hybrid Filipino-Southern identity to her own daughter.

May 05, 2016
The New Old Country Store (Gravy Ep. 36)
26:04

Every week, Cracker Barrel provides 4 million Americans with a studied version of down-home Southern food and hospitality. The dumplins and the chicken-fried steak. The country knick-knacks and the rocking chairs. What are we really consuming, culturally, along with the hashbrown casserole? In this episode of Gravy, Besha Rodell ponders the restaurant chain, the trickiness of Southern nostalgia, and how all of that has ended up informing her understanding of family.

Apr 21, 2016
Wanting the Bourbon You Can’t Have (Gravy Ep. 35)
26:51

When it comes to a certain kind of bourbon, it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have—you can’t get it unless you’re exceptionally lucky or you’re willing to break the law. In this episode of Gravy, we teamed up with the podcast Criminal to bring you the story of the cult of popularity surrounding Pappy Van Winkle… and how it’s driven some to crime. The Pappy frenzy has law enforcement, bartenders, and even the Van Winkle family themselves wringing their hands.

Apr 07, 2016
Jell-O Makes the Modern (Mountain) Woman (Gravy Ep. 34)
21:42

Jell-O could seem like a trivial food. It’s brightly colored-- vibrantly orange, electric green or unsettlingly blue—nutritionally void, and, hey, it jiggles. But in Appalachia, Jell-O marked a transformation in the lives of rural residents.

In this episode of Gravy, Kentucky writer Lora Smith sifts through a trove of oral histories that demonstrate the sea change in culinary that Jell-O represented. It served, for these communities, as a benchmark in a time. Life could be sorted into a pre-Jell-O and a post-Jell-O era.

Mar 24, 2016
Dinner at the Patel Motel (Gravy Ep. 33)
28:50

We stay at them around the South and across the United States: Day’s Inn. Best Western. Quality Inn. But there is a food world behind the scenes at some motels that most people are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, a partnership with the Post & Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, we delve into that world. Hanna Raskin brings us the story of how so many motels came to be owned by families from the Gujarat region of India, and the secret cooking they do to keep their culinary traditions going here in the United States.

Mar 09, 2016
Mexican-ish: How Arkansas Came to Love Cheese Dip (Gravy Ep. 32)
26:35

There’s a dish you’ll find at every kind of restaurant in Little Rock, from the pizza places to the burger joints: cheese dip. How did it become so beloved in Arkansas? And what does it reveal about the state’s past—and present? In this episode of Gravy, Dana Bialek and host Tina Antolini investigate this story of highways, demographic changes, and a food’s shifting identity over time.

Feb 25, 2016
A Trailer, a Temple, a Feast: Making Laos in North Carolina (Gravy Ep. 31)
29:45

Sticky rice. It may not be the first dish you expect to be served in a double-wide trailer in the mountain South, but in Morganton, North Carolina, you will find it in abundance. In this episode of Gravy, Katy Clune brings us the story of one Laotian family that’s introducing their community to their food and faith, and working to make themselves a home in the South. Food weaves in and around this story, from the solitary egg that fed a whole family fleeing Laos to become refugees in Thailand, to the sticky rice cooked in offering to a new temple’s monk in North Carolina.

Feb 11, 2016
The Pull of Pollo: How the Chicken Industry Transformed One Arkansas Town (Gravy Ep. 30)
21:16

When you think of Southern food, especially if you're not from the South, fried chicken might be the first dish that comes to mind. Chicken is a Southern staple, and the biggest chicken companies in the world are all based in the South. The second-largest poultry state is Arkansas, and the northwest region—home to the Walmart empire—is also home to Tyson, Cargill, and George's, among others. 

Twenty years ago, it was more than 80% white, but today—because of big chicken—there's a ballooning population of Latino, Marshall Island, and Asian immigrants. The school system is nearly half Latino, and streets once marked by poultry plants and feed stores are lined with taquerias and signs en español

This is the story of Springdale, Arkansas, and how chicken transformed a once-sleepy rural town into the most ethnically diverse city in the state—and among the most diverse in the South.

Jan 28, 2016
Hip Hop to Bibimbap: the Atlanta of Christiane Lauterbach (Gravy Ep. 11)
30:36

What kind of view of a city can you have through its restaurants? Or—more specifically—through its strip mall restaurants? Christiane Lauterbach’s multi-decade career proves: a whole lot.

Christiane is a woman full of contradictions. A loner who is unfailingly gregarious. A self-described hermit who loves to ramble around her adopted city of Atlanta, Georgia. A French transplant who refuses to claim a Southern identity, but has changed the way Atlantans think about their restaurants. In this episode of Gravy, we learn how a Parisian woman came to document the evolution of a Southern restaurant scene, and what her work reveals about Atlanta’s global population.

Jan 14, 2016
Fighting for the Promised Land: A Story of Farming and Racism (Gravy Ep. 29)
50:15

Shirley Sherrod’s introduction to the intermingling of agriculture and racism came when she was 17 years old, with an incident that changed the course of her life. And, after that moment, her life has been one defined by the fight for black-owned farmland. It’s a fight that has included devastating racism, the biggest class action lawsuit in the history of the United States, and a high-profile firing from the USDA. 

But Shirley’s story taps into a much bigger one; she and her family are just some of the tens of thousands of black farmers who have been victims of institutional racism. This is a story about how those farmers lost ownership of millions of acres of land in the U.S., in part because of USDA discrimination. It’s also a story of how Shirley Sherrod and others have kept fighting back—and, in some surprising ways, winning.

 

Dec 31, 2015
Southern Fried Baked Alaska (Gravy Ep. 28)
28:03

What do the restaurants of your childhood say about the place you grew up? In Jack Hitt’s case, the Oysters Mornay and Escargots Bourguignonne of his Charleston, South Carolina home revealed a South attempting to be less… Southern.

This was the 1970s, an era in which serving shrimp & grits in a fine dining restaurant was about as chic as wearing your bathrobe out on the town. Fine for home, not for going out. Bu the fancy fake French food of that period tells us plenty about Southern identity—then and now. In this episode of Gravy, Jack Hitt digs through his youthful dining exploits to see what Baked Alaska uncovers about what the South longed to be and what it was.

Dec 17, 2015
Delta Jewels (Gravy Ep. 27)
25:17

When Alysia Burton Steele moved to Mississippi, she found herself drawn to the Delta. Something about it reminded her of her grandmother, who’d grown up in rural South Carolina. That observation would lead Alysia on a journey of discovery, seeking out the stories of elderly women of her grandmother’s generation. Their memories often focused on food. And they painted a portrait of the Mississippi Delta that is usually missed by an outside world that focuses on the poverty, the racism, the hardship. In this episode of Gravy, the stories church mothers across the Mississippi Delta reveal a region of extraordinary generosity.

Dec 03, 2015
South by South of the Border Soul Food (Gravy Ep. 26)
27:09

Black-eyed peas and collards. Fried chicken and peach cobbler. Customers at Delicious Southern Cuisine in Los Angeles come for these soul food staples, a taste that reminds some of their Southern roots. But: there’s a different narrative going on in the kitchen… one with a Latino flavor.

When Southerners leave the South, their food comes too. Hence, the density of soul food restaurants in cities that were destinations for African Americans during the Great Migration, cities like Los Angeles. But there have been many other migrants to Southern California… And that makes for mash-ups of Southern food and other cuisines. In this episode of Gravy, Lena Nozizwe takes us to two restaurants that serve up an edible version of the demographic shifts of in their Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Nov 19, 2015
The Cajun Reconnection (Gravy Ep. 25)
25:56

How is a region of the far north—Canada—intimately connected to a region 2,000 miles away in the Deep South? It’s a story that begins 250 years ago, and involves both loss and reunification, the reconnection of a people with shared ancestry.

In this episode of Gravy, Simon Thibault looks at how a bunch of Acadians, the cousins of the Cajuns of Louisiana, came to understand their extended family through copious meals of gumbo, boudin, jambalaya and everything étouffé’d that they can eat. 

This group of Acadians, some of whom have made a life in Lafayette, not only found a second home, but a second family in Louisiane. They’ve learned what it truly meant to be un bon cadien, and subsequently looked at their own Acadian identity, and how and where culture is transmitted through generations. 

Nov 05, 2015
The Mason Jar Pickle (Gravy Ep. 24)
25:47

They’re everywhere: in your fancy cocktail bar and your down home country restaurant. In the hands of farmer’s market shoppers and 7-Eleven Slurpee slurpers. How did mason jars get to be so ubiquitous? How did they come to be embraced by the DIY canner and the hipster chicken & waffles restaurant? And what does their omnipresence tell us about the cultural cache of the South?

In this episode of Gravy, Gabe Bullard takes on the cultural politics of the Mason Jar: how it became hip, and what that hipness means.

Oct 22, 2015
Combat Ready Kitchen (Gravy Ep. 23)
28:22

One of the more important places for the modern Southern (and American) diet may be... an obscure army base in Natick, Massachusetts. The Combat Feeding Directorate looks just like any other suburban office park, but it’s an origin point for many of the processed foods that find their way onto our grocery store shelves. In this episode of Gravy, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of "Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat," takes host Tina Antolini along on an investigation of how the military’s food engineering research for combat rations has filtered down to the food we civilians eat.

Oct 08, 2015
A Salt Story: West Virginia Siblings Mine the Past to Build a Future (Gravy Ep. 22)
23:22

While West Virginia may be known for resources like coal, the country once turned to this mountain state for a culinary staple: salt. Salt production started in this part of the Appalachian mountains in the late 1700s. It was an industry built on the backs of slaves, and one that proved destructive to the region’s environment. Now, a seventh generation salt-making family is reviving the business. In this week’s episode of Gravy, Caleb Johnson and Irina Zhorov bring us the story of one family's attempt to reconcile its salt-making past with a more environmentally and socially responsible future.  

Sep 24, 2015
Coming Out Meatless (Gravy Ep. 21)
24:40

What does *not* eating meat say about you? In one young biracial man’s family, his dietary change was construed as white, elite, even feminine. In the new episode of Gravy, radio producer Renee Gross tells us Choya Webb’s story, and how he has navigated the cultural politics of going vegetarian. For Choya, it has to do with more than food—it has to do with race and sexual orientation.

Sep 10, 2015
Red Beans, Red Wine, & Rebuilds: a Katrina Anniversary Special (Gravy Ep. 20)
01:01:30

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, how does the city’s food reveal how the place has changed? This hour-long special episode of Gravy takes on that question, from what was eaten just after the storm to the stories of two restaurants that tap into the post-Katrina gentrification and marketing of New Orleans to the outside world.

In part one, we hear the personal stories of three New Orleanians, taken from blogs they kept in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Food figures largely in their writing, and that food reveals residents who were already wrestling with what had irrevocably changed and what was holding true about their city. In part two: what does a once-bohemian wine store and restaurant in one of the city’s fastest gentrifying neighborhoods show us about the cultural transformation that part of town is undergoing? Writer Sara Roahen brings us the story of Bacchanal and the Bywater. And in part three: was the post-storm resurrection of a beloved soul food restaurant in New Orleans uniformly a good thing? Reporter Keith O’Brien tells the story of the rebuilding of Willie Mae’s Scotch House, once purely a local’s favorite which now serves a growing clientele of tourists.  

Aug 27, 2015
Ice Cream, Coffee, and Community in Alabama: A Gravy Road Trip (Gravy Ep. 19)
21:54

The Shoals is a community in Northwest Alabama made up of four towns: Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. Tucked in the foothills of the Tennessee River Valley, the Shoals is an hour from any interstate, and at least a two-hour drive from the nearest big cities—Nashville to the north and Birmingham to the south.

 

The Shoals is one of the most documented places in the world of music. The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, the Allman Brothers, Bobbie Gentry, even the Osmond Brothers -- all made pilgrimages to record at legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, with locals like Percy Sledge and the Swampers, FAME’s in-house rhythm section.

But music is only part of the cultural story here. There’s a rich food culture, too. On this Gravy Road trip, we take a look at two sides of that story, one a local icon and the other, a newer kid in town.

 

 

Aug 13, 2015
Bill Smith Turns Up the Volume (Gravy Ep. 9)
0

How does a chef’s taste in things other than food wind up influencing what’s on the plate? For example, if they like rocking out to, say, the Butthole Surfers—is that relevant?

If you were to meet Bill Smith riding his bike around town, you might not realize you’d encountered an avid rock fan. Bill is 66, bespectacled, usually wearing a baseball cap over his white hair. He’s the chef at Crook’s Corner, the James Beard Award-winning Southern restaurant. The giveaway as to his musical predilections might be his t-shirt. Does it read Drive By Truckers? Or maybe Corrosion of Conformity?

Today: the story of Bill Smith’s t-shirt collection and what it tells us about the intertwined worlds of music and food in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Jul 30, 2015
Holding Onto the Bayou (Gravy Ep. 18)
32:44

Five years ago this week, the BP oil spill ended. On July 15, 2010, the well that had been spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was capped, after 87 days. It was the largest spill in the nation’s history, and had a devastating impact on Gulf Coast fisheries. The long term effects of the spill continue to reveal themselves for the Louisiana Coast, which has supported communities of fishermen for centuries. But the oil spill isn’t the only thing they’re up against. The land is disappearing, and both man-made and natural disasters are speeding up the sinking process.

What would it be like if the place you’d lived your whole life started to disappear? For Tony Goutierrez of St. Bernard Parish, that’s not just a nightmare scenario. In this episode of Gravy, producer Laine Kaplan Levenson tells us Tony’s story, and what he’s trying to do to maintain his life on the water. 

Jul 16, 2015
A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation (Gravy Ep. 17)
28:18

Charleston, South Carolina has become the center of discussions about race and violence in America these past few weeks. The massacre of nine African American parishioners at a historic black church there has prompted a national discussion and collective soul-searching: how did this happen in 2015? What work still needs to be done to prevent this sort of racial hatred and terrorism?

But Charleston is also home to a historical bright spot, a moment from 150 years ago that is still inspiring South Carolinians today. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, an unusual dinner party was held in Charleston that brought white and black residents together. In this episode of Gravy, producer Philip Graitcer brings us the story that dinner, and how it’s still resonating today.

Jul 02, 2015
Fried Chicken: A Complicated Comfort Food (Gravy Ep. 16)
25:51

It’s easy to love fried chicken. The light crunch of a crisped wing or leg, followed by the moist meat of the interior; it’s understandably beloved. But there is more going on with this comfort food than you might think. Fried chicken has both been the vehicle for the economic empowerment of a whole group of people—and the accessory to an ugly racial stereotype. How can something so delicious be both? In this episode of Gravy, Lauren Ober goes from a Virginia Fried Chicken Festival to a soul food restaurant in Harlem to find out.

 

Jun 18, 2015
A City Built on Barbecue (Gravy Ep. 15)
26:22

Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” (In fact, the state legislature got a little more specific about it, dubbing the city “the Hickory Smoked Barbecue Capital of North Carolina.”) For more than one hundred years, pitmasters there have been cooking pork shoulders slowly over coals from a wood fire, and slicking them with a sweet, red barbecue sauce.

And so, when Lexington officials began to renovate a municipal building, they were thrilled by an unexpected barbecue-related discovery. In this episode of Gravy, Sarah Delia takes us to Lexington to learn what that was, and what it might mean for a barbecue landscape in which some are worried history is being forgotten.

Jun 04, 2015
The Last Jews of Natchez (Gravy Ep. 14)
35:01

People are often surprised when Robin Amer tells them her family is from the South. That’s because her family is Jewish, and a lot of people don’t realize there are Jews in the South, especially in tiny towns like Natchez, Mississippi. But Robin’s family has lived there for 160 years, and their traditions—and foodways—are a unique hybrid of their European Jewish heritage and their Southern home.

The Jewish community in Natchez has been dwindling for years, though. Now, it’s down to only a handful of people, including Robin’s 96-year-old grandmother and 98-year-old grandfather. In this episode of Gravy, Robin returns to Natchez to learn what might be lost when they’re gone.

May 21, 2015
A Migration Reversed (Gravy Ep. 13)
23:50

Once you’ve left home in search of a better life, what might make you return? During the Great Migration, six million African Americans left the South for the North. Donnie “Pen” Travis was one of them. But that was just the start of his journey.

In this episode of Gravy, Eve Abrams brings us the story of one man’s migration, and how farming prompted both his depature… and his return.

May 07, 2015
Tamales for the Derby (Gravy Ep. 12)
24:10

Most of us know the Kentucky Derby from the front side of the track: the fancy Derby hats, the mint juleps, the thrill of the race. But there’s a whole other world to racetracks in the South—and one with food that tells a story about who’s working there.

In this episode of Gravy, we follow the horse racing seasons from track to track to learn about the workers behind the scenes, and what their food tells about who they are.

 

Apr 23, 2015
Hip Hop to Bibimbap: the Atlanta of Christiane Lauterbach (Gravy Ep. 11)
29:37

What kind of view of a city can you have through its restaurants? Or—more specifically—through its strip mall restaurants? Christiane Lauterbach’s multi-decade career proves: a whole lot.

Christiane is a woman full of contradictions. A loner who is unfailingly gregarious. A self-described hermit who loves to ramble around her adopted city of Atlanta, Georgia. A French transplant who refuses to claim a Southern identity, but has changed the way Atlantans think about their restaurants. In this episode of Gravy, we learn how a Parisian woman came to document the evolution of a Southern restaurant scene, and what her work reveals about Atlanta’s global population.

Apr 09, 2015
Our Bourbon Street or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Hand Grenade (Gravy Ep. 10)
26:13

You probably have a mental image of Bourbon Street: drunken revelers, neon signs, debauchery of many kinds. Well, it once was just a residential street in the heart of the French Quarter—totally normal. No Big Ass Beers or Huge Ass Beers. How did it go from that to the temple of over indulgence that it is today?

In this episode of Gravy, Rien Fertel brings us the people’s history of Bourbon Street—and the story of the wickedly strong cocktail that has become one of its staples.

Mar 26, 2015
Bill Smith Turns Up the Volume (Gravy Ep. 9)
24:07

How does a chef’s taste in things other than food wind up influencing what’s on the plate? For example, if they like rocking out to, say, the Butthole Surfers—is that relevant?

If you were to meet Bill Smith riding his bike around town, you might not realize you’d encountered an avid rock fan. Bill is 66, bespectacled, usually wearing a baseball cap over his white hair. He’s the chef at Crook’s Corner, the James Beard Award-winning Southern restaurant. The giveaway as to his musical predilections might be his t-shirt. Does it read Drive By Truckers? Or maybe Corrosion of Conformity?

Today: the story of Bill Smith’s t-shirt collection and what it tells us about the intertwined worlds of music and food in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Mar 12, 2015
The Pie Formerly Known as Derby (Gravy Ep. 8)
20:48

In and around Louisville, lots of things are named after the Kentucky Derby. The famous horse race, held at Churchill Downs every first weekend in May, has leant its name to everything from apartment complexes to hats to… pie. It’s a part of many Kentuckians Derby Day celebrations. But as beloved as Derby Pie is, it’s also been the source of controversy. In this episode of Gravy, producer Nina Feldman brings us the story of how the name of a confection has tapped into something surprisingly emotional—and divisive—for one Southern community.

Feb 26, 2015
Brothers, Soldiers, Farmers (Gravy Ep. 7)
23:34

There are more military veterans in the South than any other part of the United States. This region has also been losing farmers at an astonishing rate. Those two things sound disconnected? Not if two brothers in Kentucky have any say about it.

This is the story of two soldiers who found their way into farming after war. But it’s also the story of two brothers whose experience in uniform and in the fields has been very different from one another. Producer Alix Blair takes us to rural Kentucky to learn what agriculture holds for men who’ve been soldiers.

Feb 12, 2015
The Jemima Code (Gravy Ep. 6)
22:29

Toni Tipton Martin was just starting out as a reporter back in the 1980’s, when she noticed something that struck her as odd about the cookbook section of the newspaper she was working for. There were no cookbooks by black people. “That just didn’t jive with my experience,” she says, having grown up in an African American household of skilled cooks. “It didn’t make sense that African Americans didn’t make any contribution at all.” Little did Toni know that that observation would set her on a multi-decade journey of research and discovery. In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of the world of black cookbooks that Toni eventually uncovered, and what they tell us about culinary history in the United States.

Jan 29, 2015
Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty: The Emotional Life of Eating (Gravy Ep. 5)
23:19

Many of the stories we hear and tell about food are positive—food’s power to nourish, to comfort, to bring people together. But it also has the potential to cause shame, fear, disgust and a whole host of other uncomfortable emotions. Today on Gravy: personal stories around food that aren’t so sweet.

These are the kinds of stories Francis Lam wanted to explore for a presentation he gave at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual Symposium a few months ago. Francis is an editor at large at Clarkson Potter Publishers and a New York Times Magazine columnist. He’s also someone who’s spent a lot of time eating in the South and writing about it. Francis was curious about the food stories that often go untold because they deal with topics we’d prefer not to talk about. So, he asked a handful of people: tell me about a time when you felt tension in your emotional life of eating.

Jan 15, 2015
Live at Fred's Lounge (Gravy Ep. 4)
27:17

Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana, is a dancing and drinking destination… on Saturday mornings only. That’s the only time it’s open. For years, Saturdays have featured live traditional Cajun music, a live radio show, a devoted community of Cajun dancers, and visitors from around the region—and the world. What started as a local dive has become internationally famous. By nine a.m., middle-aged couples waltz a wide arc around the band, as 83-year-old proprietor Tante Sue takes healthy swigs from a bottle of cinnamon-flavored schnapps while squeezing her chest in time to the music as if playing an accordion. How does Fred’s maintain this mix of locals and outsiders? We sent reporter Eve Troeh out on a Saturday morning to drink a few beers (or Bloody Mary’s) and find out. 

Jan 01, 2015
The Fight for Water and Oysters (Gravy Ep. 3)
28:29

Atlanta can seem like it’s a very long way from the oystering communities in Florida’s Panhandle. There are, in fact, hundreds of miles between them. But there are ways even distant places are intimately connected, perhaps more intimately than you’d guess. And when one of those places is in trouble, those connections get revealed.

This is the story of what’s happening to the oysters in Apalachicola Bay, and why that has inspired interstate legal battles—even a Supreme Court lawsuit. It’s also the story of what a place whose whole identity revolves around seafood does, when that seafood is threatened. 

Dec 18, 2014
Separation of Church and Coffee (Gravy Ep. 2)
27:00

In cities and towns across the South, an increasing number of the folks offering up latte art and high-end pourover brewing are devout Christians. Is it an unlikely and subtle tool for proselytizing? Or a more nuanced expression of 21st Century Christianity, intertwined with social events and professional endeavors. 

Dec 04, 2014
Adaptation, Survival, Gratitude: a Lumbee Thanksgiving Story (Gravy Ep. 1)
24:22

For Thanksgiving, a Native American story… but not the one you’re imagining. No Pilgrims here. For the Lumbee Indians in North Carolina, the holiday meal involves cornbread, collards and a whole lot of pork. The Lumbee food story is a portal to a hybrid Southern-Native history that’s rarely glimpsed outside the tribe. Through Lumbee foods, we get to know this tribe in Robeson County, its persistence through colonialism, poverty, and Jim Crow era of tri-racial segregation. And we get to taste the stereotype-shattering reality of Indian foodways.

Nov 20, 2014
Welcome to Gravy
02:05
Nov 17, 2014