Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Play with Your Food

During this holiday season SoFAB teamed with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art to offer a day of "gingerbread" house building. We decided to use graham crackers instead of sheets of gingerbread, icing as glue and as cement, and candy, sugar and other assorted sweets to adorn the buildings. Kate Barron, the education curator at the Ogden, and I anticipated that the architectural creations of the kids would be very much like houses. Little did we know how charmingly creative these kids would be. They built stables for horses, complete with horse patties (chocolate chips), a ship, and a warehouse.

The exercise was lots of fun for the adults, as well as the children. It has made me sure that we will have regular "Play with Your Food" programs at SoFAB when we open.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

lady marmalade

I just made meyer lemon marmalade which I am now relabelling on the christmas bag as "meyer lemon sauce"because it took forever to gel and in doing so all the sugar caramellized and turned dark copper and it's pretty and also caramelly and very very tart and not sweet like marmalade at all. I followed the recipe, well sort of, I quadrupled it but it took so long to cook, it only made triple the number of jars. I asked my neighbor to come taste and she loves it and said it would be amazing on chicken or pork and lord knows i have enough lemons left over on the tree to make something more sweet. Liz will love this stuff.

I am not talking about the museum because it is Christmas, and I am sticky and tired and need to go to sleep and will post my new chocolate chip, cranberry, crystallized ginger oatmeal cookie recipe later when I do not have to go wrap cd's. this canning business was very zen. especially when the chopping, juicing and slicing are done while watching Murder on the Orient Express and Mary Poppins. i spent almost a whole day not thinking about or doing any work for the museum. weird. and probably healthy. Ho Ho Ho. Am off to wrap.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Wiki Is Launched!

We have been talking about it. Now it is launched. It is now up to everyone else to begin posting information about things culinary and Southern on the wiki. Now is the chance to let everyone know what you know about some favorite foodway. Now is the opportunity to memorialize that chef, that product, that treasured memory of something that perhaps no longer exists.

This project is new. Please be patient. If you come to explore and cannot find an entry, add it. But eventually this wiki will be the most comprehensive source of information about Southern food, beverages and foodways. It will include biographies, the history of businesses, agricultural practices, and so much more. Join us in building this compilation of information.

And don't forget that photos and diagrams can form a part of this project to better help readers and researchers understand what you write about.

Monday, December 10, 2007

antoine's archives

So Antoine's has been feeding this city since 1840. And they haven't thrown anything away since then. Well, almost. Recently Liz and I met with Rick Blount, a fifth generation member of the family and he took us on a tour of the attic of Antoine's and there we saw years and years of amazing artifacts and memorabilia: old receipts, magazines, letters, thank-you cards, holy cards (he was a good Catholic), dishes, silverware, posters, menus, photographs and you guess it and it's probably there. He really wanted to organize it in a searchable way but was daunted by the task. Plus, he has a business to run. That's when Liz mentioned the Culinary Corps was coming to town. Like Santa, but they cook.

I dialed Christine Carroll's number and she said "Sure, I'd be happy to bring my volunteers over to sort through restaurant stuff" and they did. We threw away a lot (Just who decided to keep all the covers from Time magazine for 16 years?) but also found amazing items like an invitation to the opening of Lutece. Menus from famous dinners, thank-yous from happy customers, letters of complaint from disgruntled lawyers and photographs of the famous and not so famous. Everything got a good dusting and was sorted into archival boxes with clear labels of what was in them to be catalogued at a future date. We hardly made a dent, (you can't polish off almost 170 years of packrat in 3 hours) but it was a start. I think the Culinary Corp enjoyed the break from cooking and I know Rick appreciated their efforts. He not only fed us well, but everyone went home with an Antoine's cookbook. Hopefully on their next round the Culinary Corps can work a little more on the mountain and soon the museum will be able to use the catalogue for research and exhibits. And Rick will have more attic space to fill with future generations of material...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wish List

As we count down until December 31, we are all thinking about what we need to do before the end of the year. We are also looking ahead to those New Year's resolutions. Why not combine those two concepts on behalf of SoFAB. Join or make a donation. Clean off your bookshelves and send us Southern cookbooks and books about the South. (Send them to 1435 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130.) Send us the menus that you have collected at work or at home that you use for take out calls. Mail those menus to us and update your collection for yourself. If you are cleaning out the attic or garage or basement and you find culinary artifacts, send us an email and see if we can use it. Our archives now hold many recipe boxes and scrapbooks full of recipes and clippings. We'd love to have yours or Aunt Sally's.

Most of all we want your stories. Please send them. We are documenting the South. You are part of it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Team SoFAB

We had our first meeting of "Team SoFAB". I can't believe I am actually using this expression. When I worked for the Hilton, there were all these signs in the back about "Team Hilton" and how "There's no "I" in "TEAM" and slogans like that. I scoffed. But now I know I scoffed because I wasn't on a team I cared about. And now? I'm on the team. We have exhibit designers, builders, graphic designers and others to come. Oh yeah, and me. I'm putting the content together. But really we are all building this. It will only work with lots of communication and everyone tapping into all their creativity and problem solving. And that of their significant others. And family. And friends. Yep, whether all these other people wish to be on the team, if they are in our lives for the next few months, they will all be on the team. Dragged into helping do whatever needs to be done. And you can help, too. I sent out a call in our newsletter for donations of artifacts, stories, photographs and anything else that can help our opening exhibits on Louisiana and Corn. Please feel free to contact me: if you can help.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Backyard Largesse

As weather reports in some parts of the country bring real chills, the weather here in New Orleans continues to be pleasant. It's too late for figs, but the Meyer lemons are big, juicy and ripe. We have we trees and every year I hunt for yet another way to preserve lemons or juice. Besides giving away lots of lemons, this year I have been experimenting with lemon curd. This stuff is wicked. Try this:

2 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups fresh lemon juice, Meyer lemons if they are available
2 sticks butter

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the eggs are fluffy. (This version does not leave me with lots of extra egg whites.) Mix in the lemon juice and heat over a flame diffuser stirring often. As the mixture begins to thicken, add the butter, a little bit at a time. Continue cooking until the mixture thickly coats a spoon.

This stuff makes a great tart over a crust made of ginger snaps. This curd is not for the meek. It really packs in the lemon flavor and is VERY tart. That's the way I like it.

Since I grow this in the backyard in an urban area, I decided to check into the lead absorption of plants. See the article Lead in the Home Garden to answer your questions.

My backyard is also yielding mirlitons - that's chayote to some of you - and oranges. I'll share more recipes soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Business plan

I am trying to create an organization that will be able to earn its own way. That means that between paying entrance fees, memberships, sales of gift shop items and other ways of earning our income, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will not have to go begging just to survive. We may still have to go begging to start new programs and to expand. But our existence will be secure.

But we aren't there yet. We aren't open. All of the avenues for earning revenue are not available to us. So as we come to the end of the year I would like to ask all of you who support what we are doing, who want there to be a museum that celebrates the food and drink of the South, to join SoFAB. You can join via our website or print out the membership form and mail us a check. Or, don't join. Just make a donation. The donation is tax deductible and will help make it possible for us to open and become self-sufficient. We are creating a new institution in New Orleans for all of the South.

We are currently working on our library, our exhibits and wiki. Our opening changing exhibit will deal with corn. A title is forthcoming. If you have stories of corn, artifacts or pictures, we would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

go to girl

So most days, it's me doing the calling, begging, nudging , cajoling and outright pestering to other people to do things for me. So it's actually kind of nice when people call me and ask for help. It means they see me and the museum as a resource for their work. And this has happened a bit recently. Starting in January, I will be leading a bi-monthly book club at La Divina Gelateria, with all the books somehow dealing with food. I got to choose the first book: The Omnivore's Dilemma. I know, I know, everybody has already read that. It's so last year. Whatever. I haven't read it and since I am leading the discussion, it will make me read it. Also, the issues it raises have not gone away since it has come out in paperback. And it will be a nice break from all the Louisiana and Southern food book reading I have been doing in preparation for the opening exhibits.
I have also been approached by a group at UNO and a PR organization in Memphis to come speak to them about my work. Of course, now I have to plan the speeches....hmmm. Anyway, it's nice to be pursued once in a while.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Everything at Once

This is the ultimate in delayed gratification. We have been working since 2004 (really since 2003, but officially since 2004) to make the Southern Food and Beverage Museum happen. We have been laying foundations, meeting people, beginning projects and exhibits. All in all we have been acting like a museum even though sometimes it felt as shallow as a movie set. Now it is paying off.

The Institut du Goût is working with us to spread their message of taste sensibility. We are receiving many books from libraries, which is helping us document the Southern experience. Our menu collection is burgeoning, and now we are receiving older menus as well as current ones. We have a traveling exhibit. We have a terrific, engaged Board of Directors. We building a wiki. We are planning our opening exhibits. And there is more and more and more. I actually feel as though I will pop, I am so excited.

Keep a close eye on what we are doing. Many announcements will be bursting forth soon. Thanks to all of our supporters, our donors and well-wishers. Soon you will be bursting too. When we all pop, we will explode into the world as a full-fledged institution, not a movie set. Just around the corner. Just wait and see.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fall Fest

I spent the weekend in Lake Charles at the Fall Festival held there at the Sam Houston Jones State Park. If you have never been, you should check out the lovely trails and pond where you can rent boats to paddle around. After walking awhile along the river, I started to remember why I like nature and wondered why I don't get away from the concrete more often. The museum was invited to attend the fair and we set up a booth, encouraging people to send us menus and join the museum. I think we may get a fair amount of menus donated soon. We are also hoping to do more with state parks, using them as a venu to make connections between our eating habits and nature. We'll see what happens. Food can be used to connect with pretty much everything, can't it? Also, if you are in Lake Charles, I highly recommend the margaritas at Cancun on Ryan St. And the carne asada. I'm just sayin...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Building the Ultimate Southern Food Wiki

This is the goal - building the ultimate wiki about Southern food and drink. The infrastructure is set, so now we are asking you for your in-put. We don't want to hang this thing out there totally unpopulated, so we are asking you to help us. Please begin sending us your entries and let us add them for a few weeks, until we have a critical mass. That will also allow the internal organization to become more apparent.

Send us your information, your pictures, your ideas. Please. If you want to be part of monitoring and editing the wiki, let us know. If you are from a company that makes an iconic Southern food, i.e., Moon Pies, send us an entry that describes the history of your company. We would rather be overwhelmed with response than struggle to find entries. If you fancy yourself the expert on something - say funeral food in south Alabama - write about it.

Recipes have a place in this wiki. They will illustrate the text. Biographies of chefs, noted home cooks, writers and critics, product developers and restaurateurs all have a place. Don't hold back. This needs to be the most comprehensive and broadly defined place to find information about Southern food. In just a few weeks, with your help, we will be ready to say, "Ya'll come!"

Monday, October 22, 2007

texas and some other stuff

first things first. we are on the National Geographic Traveler website blog thingy. here:
cool. huh?

ok, I just got back from a trip to Texas to attend my friend Scott's wedding just outside San Antonio. Lovely. He married Eva, a woman I instantly liked when I met her under difficult circumstances, (I evacuated to her apartment in Houston after Katrina en route to London for a wedding. "Hello girlfriend of Scott I have just met. Now I am going to go sob in your bathroom.") which she responded to beautifully ("Here's a kleenex, Elizabeth. Now let's get to Target and buy you some clothes.") So anyway, I was happy to see them. But of course as I have mentioned in other blogs, the museum rules my life, so I couldn't just go to a wedding in Texas, a SOUTHERN STATE, without visiting some food people and seeing what connections I could make. So I did.

I met with Shelley Grieshaber at the new branch of the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, the Center for Food of the Americas . (If you have the August issue of Gourmet lying around, check out the great article about them) We discussed ways the food museum could partner with the school and it was through Shelley that I found out about the Museo Alameda, , a museum dedicated to the Latino experience in the Americas. It is the only branch of the Smithsonian located outside Washington D.C. I promised her I'd check it out.

After my visit with Shelley on Friday, I took her advice and ate at Rosario's for lunch: delicious fish tacos. Oh, there are many wonderful things here in NOLA, but fish tacos aren't one of them. Checked into the hotel, tooled around the Riverwalk for a spell, embraced my role as tourist and ended up at Acenar (also Shelley's reccomendation.) Chef James Sanchez not only fed me beautifully, but joined me at the end of the night and we talked Tex-Mex (well, he talked, I listened) and told me his story. James was excited about the new CIA in San Antonio because he had to leave San Antonio to go to NY for his training. He was a local boy with a strong background in food, since his grandfather was the Market Manager for the San Antonio famer's market. He remembered walking through the market with his grandfather and all the vendors would just give him fruit to eat and never take payment, since his grandfather was so respected.

He spent several years, working in the corporate food world and choose to leave it all to run a restaurant where he gets to cook like he wants to cook. He said "This is the first restaurant I've cooked in where my father comes to eat." He tried to explain to me the differences between the TexMex in San Antonio, Houston, Laredo, El Paso, etc... I realized I knew nothing. And it made me aware of how big this task is, putting together a museum about ALL southern food. I took another sip of my margarita and ignored the terror of the task and concentrated on my duck crepe which, frankly was so delicious it could take your mind off anything, even professional anxiety.

The wedding in Seguin Texas was lovely, held on the banks of the Guadalupe River. I had two pieces of the yummy cake with real frosting, none of that fondant mess, and too much wine.

I made my way back to San Antonio Sunday and met up with Jim Peyton, a cookbook author, menu consultant and all around great guy for breakfast at Mirador. I told Jim about the Menu Project and he told me he has just worked with a restaurant in Bejing, creating a TexMex menu and teaching the staff how to cook it. He promised me a menu from that place and others from the San Antonio area, then he and I and my friend Mark headed to the Museo Alameda. Fantastic exhibit on Celia Cruz and Huipiles. Check it out if you are in town. I didn't expect to find any head staff there, but the director was and she and I talked about putting an exhibit together in the future and then told me she had discussed working with the Center for Food of the Americas and I got to say I had already talked with Shelley and it felt just like being in New Orleans where everybody knows everybody and so I am optimistic about that contact and we'll see what happens. Hung out at the Riverwalk some more, but stuck to iced tea. Good times, good contacts, good food.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It Grows and Grows

The plans for the next steps for SoFAB are unfolding and we are closer and closer to taking the museum to opening. It is exciting beyond belief to have watched and shepherded the idea of a museum to where we are today. But it is also terrifying. There is so much to do, so much to think about, so much to look forward to...

As we get closer to opening, it is also possible to look back and see how far we have come. We have a serious menu collection, we have the beginnings of a library (despite having setbacks caused by Hurricane Katrina), and we have a budding collection of artifacts. This is due to the interest and generosity of many people. I thank all of them. Everyone who has sent us a menu or a book or an artifact has created yet another bit of foundation under our feet and given us a little moral and emotional boost.

We have also benefited from the time and talent of so many people who have given us their energy as gifts. I continue to be so humbled by their generosity and good will. And I am working for all of you. Thank you for working for SoFAB.

Friday, October 12, 2007


It seems like everyday, I do something for this job that I have never done before. Ok, maybe not everyday. But frequently, certainly. And I don't know about y'all but whenever I do something I've never done (or done rarely) I always wonder if I'm doing an even halfway decent job. So it was a pleasure to attend the New York Women's Culinary Alliance's Speed Networking held at Hill County BBQ restaurant last week. It began with a workshop on creating one's elevator speech, the 20 second explanation of who you are and what you do. This I had done many times, but I learned a different technique about it. Emphasis was placed on making your job one that offered something to the listener. That was new. It was hard to come up with something for the museum. I mean, inherent in its definition is construction for the common good. But then I realized that was inherent in my definition. So I ended up reminding people how we collect and preserve stories and artifacts about food traditions, especially those that might not be automatically valid. This could encourage people to want to donate their artifacts/menus/recipe collections and the like.

Next in the lecture was a discussion about networking in general. How you do it everywhere, but without expectation. You are always putting yourself out there, looking for contacts, because you never knw who can help you. Whether you are on the bus or at a wedding or wherever, you can network. Then we had the speed networking, talking to someone for only 4 minutes then moving on to someone else. And it was not only fun, but I made some good contacts. So all that was satisfying.

But then last night, I was at the table at my step-sister's wedding rehearsal dinner, sitting next to my step-father's sister, Lee, who lives in Florida. I started talking about the museum and then peppering her with questions about whom I should contact there to start a dineout. And then I wondered, will I ever not talk about this? Will I ever be able to just go to a wedding or function or play or concert or anywhere and not be lookng for connections for the museum. And right now, I cannot imagine that. I told Lee I feel like those parents who cannot quit talking about their kid. Because their lives are consumed and to a great degree defined by their children. And that's where I am right now. So to all my friends and people I have yet to meet, I apologize for when I cannot shutup about the museum and just talk about a movie or article I read or book I'm in the middle of or new CD I like or restaurant I ate at or dish I made. Because I don't really do these things anymore. But if you know a chef who you think might like to host a dineout in Louisville, lemme know.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

More and more books

I cannot believe that I am doing this again today, but I just can't help it. Not a day goes by that I don't encounter something very exciting and often unexpected that shows that SoFAB is on the map, it is in the minds of people and that it is filling a need. For example, we have received unsolicited donations of an old ice cream maker and an Elmer's candy box. There are other donations, but these are representative. People are spending money making sure that when they send us these artifacts, they arrive in good condition. We often do not even have a return address and cannot properly express our gratitude.

Besides a growing number of inquiries asking for traveling exhibits and our participation in festivals, the most exciting development is the number of books that are finding their way to us. It is part of our mission to build a research library that holds cookbooks and other books relevant to the cultural foodways of the South. This includes books from other parts of the United States, because foodways do not respect political boundaries. It also includes international books, because so many influences from immigrants can be documented through books about other countries. Thank you to all of you who have sent us books. It is exciting to think that you are supporting our efforts. Please, when you send us your books, please let us know who you are. We want to acknowledge you.

Many thanks.

Connecting the South

We are busily trying to create a network of ambassadors throughout the South to represent the voice of SoFAB in their region, as well as to be envoys back to us of what's happening in that region. We hope that you will consider volunteering to be one of our ambassadors. The advisors will sit on our Board of Advisors who will be acknowledged on our website and be the eyes, ears and voice of SoFAB around the South. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

By the way, as you troll for information about the South - both culinary and otherwise - be sure to visit Bluegatco. Always something new from the South.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New York New York it's a helluva town...

Those were the original lyrics, censored for the movies to "wonderful town". but I think it's both. Stayed with Christine Carroll of the Culinary Corps on Roosevelt Island and Courtney Knapp of Martha Stewart in Brooklyn (Prospect Park) and here's what all I did.

Thursday night:Ate super salty fishy Japanese raman, can't find the menu so I cannot tell you where, and the fancy desserts at Chikalicious.

Friday:Put up the Restaurant Restorative exhibit at the James Beard House and got ready for a party to which we were graciously invited by Jamie Tiampo of Seefood Media. Check out his beautiful photos. Big party. Lots of good wine from Italian Wine Merchants. Late night slice at Two Boots, Louisana inspired pizza. get it? 2 boots?

Saturday:Hit Queens for Taste of Jackson Heights, a food and film festival and my cheapest meal of the trip. indian, burmese, bbq and tarts
Grand Central Station for an Oyster Festival, Beer Bottle opening contest and overpriced but delicious Sidecar at the Cipriani Bar. So pretty there.
An art opening at Chelsea market where the vodka was not free, as promised. sigh. late night burgers at POP burger. very very good. make sure you get the shake. and fries.

Sunday: Took the train to Stone Barnes/ Blue Hill. Had the tasting menu even though it was not on the menu because I was at a table of foodies. Concord grape cocktails. Move over Welch's. Everything so perfectly seasonal and beautiful. late tomatoes, pork that melted in your mouth, a picked that morning soft boiled egg over just shelled beans, plum souffle and lots of other things I don't even remember. big blur of food and conversation and wine. big tour of the farm. big nap on the train back.

MondayMoved my exhibit from James Beard to French Culinary Institute where it is installed on 2nd floor until December. Then off to meeting at Google about stuff that hasn't happened but OMG their cafeteria. Raw food bar. Vegan and Vegetarian options. Lots. Everything organic. All the farms they get their food from are listed on a big board. Daily changing ceviche. Sustainably harvested seafood. But they had something for everyone. Can we say Chicken fried steak and fries? I ate a lot. A LOT. then I had gelato.

Took some time for me. Met a friend for coffee. Guggenheim.
Then SPEED NETWORKING at New York Women's Culinary Alliance event hosted at Hill Country BBQ. tasty. useful. I sure have a lot of business cards now. then it was late and I had to get back to Brooklyn. which is far.
in fact, that is my only complaint about NY. everything was far. and it took a helluva long time to get around to all the places I had to get to. but i guess that's what makes it a helluva town.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Creating a Wiki

I have been searching the web for a site that really tells the story of Southern food. I can find very interesting sites which are full of information. But I have not found one single Southern food site that really covers all of the aspects of Southern food with cross references and with a deep discussion of influences. So we are going to launch one.

We are planning it now. If you have any ideas, if you are an expert on a particular topic related to Southern food, or if you just want to have input, please get in touch with me. As the "Southern Food and Beverage Wiki" is launched we will be building an important document that will belong to everyone. Think about your state. Think about your favorite foods. Don't let them be neglected on this wiki.

We would like to launch within 90 days, so let us hear from you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Even more Memphis

What a great town. Our event at The Inn at Hunt Phelan was a real success. My belly is full of Chef Stephen Hassinger's menu, a salute to southern cooking, as well as some delicious beer from Jim and Nicks and pomengranate cocktails concocted by David Parks, mixologist extraordinaire from rum and vodka graciously donated by United Liquor. There were food writers Andria Lisle (most recently published in Gardens and Guns) and Jennifer Chandler (whose book Simply Salads is sitting open on my kitchen counter) and Melissa Peterson from Edible Memphis. Museum directors Deborah Leman from Casey Jones Museum and Ken Hall of the Memphis Cotton Museum also attended, along with a bevy of Memphis food lovers, like the Squirrel Squad and Kjeld Peterson of Slow Food Memphis. Everyone who came ( and even some who could not attend) donated menus to our collection, which seems to be growing exponentially! Keep those menus coming folks and I hope to be back in Memphis soon with our exhibit Restaurant Restorative. And thanks to all who made the evening so delightful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Exploding Opportunities

I would so like this blog to be a way to express my excitement about all of the opportunities that are appearing in the ever widening path of SoFAB and share all of these opportunities with you. I am actually frustrated by the fact that prudence and good sense tell me that I can only share those opportunities that are fully realized and not just the inquiries and the possibilities. So let me share one exciting reality that is formed enough to discuss... SoFAB has partnered with the French Consulate in New Orleans as well as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art to bring to those who can attend on October 29, 30 and 31, 2007, training by the noted, Institut du Goût. This training can then be brought to the classroom to help children understand how to appreciate food and how taste happens. The details will be on our website soon.

So as you can see very real and important activities are forming, and the depth and importance of them continues to grow. I cannot wait until I can write about more.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery

I just returned from England and the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. Despite jet lag, i have returned invigorated and a reminded of how food connects us all. The symposium is two days of intellectual stimulation, fun, eating and companionship. I heard presentations and considered challenges on the theme of Food and Morality on topics ranging from the culture of growing poppies in Turkey to considerations of cannibalism. The vibrancy of the research and the breadth of topics merely underscores the importance of the study of food.

Upon returning I find an in-box full of emails referencing great projects for SoFAB, many menus and ephemera having been donated and plans for new exhibits. I am very excited to see just how relevant SoFAB is to the world. I am glad to be back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


So I just got back from Memphis. What generous, gracious town, especially the folks at The Inn at Hunt Phelan. Chef Stephen Hassinger and the whole staff fed and watered me so well. If you are visiting Memphis or lucky enough to live there, make sure to try the tasting menu at Hunt Phelan. My delicious meal was a sure sign that our dinner there next week will be scrumptious. I appeared on Live at 9, a popular morning show, then held a cookbook sale at the Cotton Museum, where I served red beans and hawked our reprint of Red Beans and Ricely Yours. About 40 folks showed up to chow and chat. Wight Boggs, who runs the Memphis Restaurant Association gave me lots of contacts to invite to our dinner and I finished the night at Mollie Fontaine's, Karen Carrier's newest venture (formerly the restaurant Cielo), a tapas lounge in Midtown (At least I think it's in Midtown. My Memphis geography is still a bit fuzzy). While there, I got to meet the Knipples, the family behind the Squirrel Squad, a blog about Memphis food. I also hung out with Melissa Peterson of Edible Memphis and her husband, Kjeld Peterson of Slow Food Memphis. Everyone I met was very excited about the museum and our Menu Project. I hope it is a successful evening.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

lots of updates

so many things have happened since I last posted, including things that happened before I posted. Hmmm. Ok. So I was a speaker at Satchmo Fest, this great festival held each summer to celebrate the life of Louis Armstrong. This year, the presentations were planned by my buddy John who asked me to give talk about Louis' red beans and rice recipe. John began to explain the recipe came from this out of print cookbook titled "Red Beans and Ricely Yours" till I told him it wasn't out of print anymore, since SoFAB had republished it. I had a great time talking about and eating some beans, hearing Louis stories and John later told me that everyone who attended said it was their favorite ending to Satchmo Fest. Maybe I can do a bit more research and give an updated version of the talk next year...

The I went to San Francisco, which I already wrote about. Got back and turned around to go to Kendall College, in Chicago where our Restaurant Restorative exhibit is currently on display until September 21. They showed the museum some wonderful hospitality and had a reception where they served some killer crab cakes, mini grit cakes with grillades (so delish that my vegetarian friend ate several) and some scrumptious gumbo. Many thanks to Chef Billy Alexander, a southern boy from Mo-Beel, who did the culinary honors. Almost 100 people came to see the exhibit and taste the goodies, representing many facets of the food industry, from chefs and food product testers to culinary historians and gourmet club members.

I got home and did some laundry and now am headed to Memphis tomorrow to be on TV Thursday the 6th to promote our menu Collecting Event/Fundraising Dinner at Hunt Phelan September 17 (I'll be on Live at 9, for those of you in the area) and have a book event later that day at the Cotton Museum from 11-1 , where we will be selling, you guessed it, Red Beans and Ricely Yours. I'll post next week and let you know how it went. Time to put the laundry in the suitcase...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Culinary camp redux

As I sit here planning activities for the last week of camp, I looked through the pictures of 10 days worth of cooking with a group of kids aged from seven to nine. I continue to be amazed at their enthusiasm and interest. And not only do they get to make things, but they get to eat what they have made. Last week on bean day, we made lentil soup with carrots. We cut off the tops of the carrots and set them to sprout in water. Just so that everyone could keep track of his or her personal carrot, we made a little name flag on a toothpick, which we stuck into the flesh of the carrot. By Friday campers could take home carrots which had green feathers of leaves beginning to leaf out. We also soaked beans overnight to allow our beans to sprout. They were just emerging on Friday to go home with the campers.

Also during the week we visited the Homebase of Emeril Lagasse and had a tour of the test kitchen. We learned all about basil there. And on Friday we made pasta! We ate pasta with pesto to finish the week with yet another taste of basil. I look forward to this coming week. Who knows what we may discover?

Many thanks to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and to Aqua2Go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ye olde college inn

Ye Olde College Inn was packed last night and thank goodness since they donated 20% of their sales to the museum. I know my belly is full of their delicious onion rings. Owner Johnny Blanchard was so pleased he suggested we do it again in the next few months. We'll keep you posted and thanks to all who came and made last night so successful. More good news: Restaurant Restorative got a nice write-up in the Chicago Sun Times. Check out this link,FOO-News-katrina22.article.

Be sure to let any of your Chicago friends know about the exhibit and encourage them to go see it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Town Hall

So I just got back from a cool and breezy trip in San Francisco and one of the highlights of my visit was my dinner at Town Hall. Owner and chef Mitch Rosenthal is an East Coast native who has cooked all over, but one of his favorite experiences was when he got the opportunity back in the 80's to cook with Paul Prudhomme. It was that experience and his love of Louisiana cooking that have shaped his menu that, though grounded in West Coast seafood, is peppered with Louisiana dishes and ingredients. Tuna tartare with fried green tomatoes and BBQ shrimp are served up alongside hamachi and halibut. Mitch's enthusiasm for New Orleans is not only seen in his menu. Every year, he and his staff hold a huge Mardi Gras party, inviting locals to a taste of Big Easy fun. In the past, the event has raised funds for a local charity, but this year, to our delight, he has offered to donate the proceeds to the museum. In addition, he has offered space in the restaurant to house the Restaurant Restorative exhibit. As soon as the dates get sorted out, we'll let all Bay Area residents know when they can visit this amazing restaurant and see the exhibit. In the meantime, if you are in SF, give Town Hall a try.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Culinary Camp

27 kids and I learned about peanuts today. After talking about this New World food, singing peanut songs, and tasting raw and roasted peanuts we made peanut butter. Kids are so great. After they told me that they hated whole wheat bread and that they would only eat sweetened peanut butter, they made sandwiches from the peanut butter that we had all made (shelling 2 pounds of peanuts) and thought that it was the best thing ever. I hope we find that this is true throughout the week. Tomorrow we learn about tomatoes. The rest of the week offers bananas, watermelon, and peppers. Next week (this week is fruits and vegetables week) we'll be eating heritage foods. Kids will eat good food. They aren't wedded to junk. We just give them messages of low expectations.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Opening in Chicago

I am very excited about the opening of Restaurant/Restorative, our traveling exhibit, in Chicago. The exhibit is at Kendall College and tells the story of the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina through the reopening of restaurants.

Also about to happen is the Culinary Camp we are initiating with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. This camp is a prototype. We hope that after we complete the camp we will be able to develop after school and school activities on an on-going basis, develop a teacher manual, and make eating nutritious food important to children. This is a bit ambitious, but we think it is important.

Check out our web site for the other fun activities that are planned, including the dining out at Ye Olde College Inn and the Invitation to the Memphis Table.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Natchez Food and Wine Festival

As a quick snapshot of a town, a Food and Wine Festival is always a treat. The Festival in Natchez is no exception. Area restaurants participated in a contest voted on by the visitors. That meant that each restaurant was putting on its best face. The wines were in competition also, which made for a great opportunity for tasting. And my favorite part is the local culinary businesses that support the event, letting me see the variety of businesses operating in the area. I loved it.

I collected menus - my compulsion - and tasted and talked. This event benefits a scholarship fund for culinary students from the Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez. The terrific idea is to send a graduate of the Co-Lin program on for further education and training. They return to Natchez better chefs with a breadth of experience.

I am also looking forward to our culinary camp, which starts in a week. And we are working up to Invitation to the Memphis Table in September.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Discoveries

It couldn't have been more exciting. I mean that discovery of a great work of art where you least expect it. Amid the cast iron pots and pans and silver tea pots, all of which were fun and wonderful, was a person carrying a cup and saucer bearing the hand painted landscape by a noted artist. This was obviously a gift and not a mass produced item. It was a pleasure to be have had just a little bit to do with its discovery.

Thanks to everyone who came. Special thanks to Pepper Brown and Steve Clayton, who talked, and examined and valued, with great authority. Thanks to Savvy Gourmet for the space to do this appropriately. Thanks to all of you who are pack rats and collectors or just those who treasure things from your family. Without you hording your mementos, museums would not exist.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lots of Activity

I am very excited about our Culinary Roadshow tomorrow. Thanks to Pepper Brown and Stephen Clayton from Mathew Clayton Brown and the folks from Savvy Gourmet, all of us who have mystery items from kitchens and dining rooms of our parents and grand parents or have great garage sale finds, can have them identified. Not only will we be able to find out what these things are, but we can get at least an idea of their value.

I am looking forward to a room full of gadgets or pictures of interesting large, nonportable items, that will be like an anthropological experiment. And I can just imagine the conversations of those people standing in line. The stories that go with the items. I look forward to a day of meeting people and being amazed with the diversity of the kitchen.

It will be the place to be tomorrow. And I will be reporting on the oddities that we encounter on the kitchen expedition.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I spent the last few days attending the fifth Tales of the Cocktail, an annual event celebrating spirits, their history and exploring what is new in the cocktail world. There were seminars on the influence of women in spirit's history, the impact of ice and refrigeration, matching music and drinks, and many more. As with any event in New Orleans, there was plenty of great food as well. But what stood out most in my mind from these past 4 days was the response I would get when I asked people why they were here. Everyone from journalists to distributers all said they had heard it was professionally a great place to be. If you wanted to meet everyone in the industry, this was one of the top five events in the western world. As someone who is used to walking or driving through my city and seeing what I call the "T-Shirts", those volunteers who cme from all over the country to help rebuild my city, this answer was suprising and heartening. While there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done here, I was glad to hear that most people's motivations to come for this conference were the old reasons: I'm here for work and I'm here to have a good time. Not one word about support or recovery. And that was nice.

Inspite of most attendees' motivations to visit, it was still reassuring to know that the city's rebuilding process has not been forgotten. Absolut Vodka held a press conference the first day of the conference and announced the release of a new vodka: Absolut New Orleans. All of the proceeds of the sale will benefit 5 Gulf Coast charities, including the Tipatina's Musician's Fund and Habitat for Humanity. I always suspected that liquor would rebuild this city. It certainly has a more reliably productive presence here than the government...

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Partners

It is always exciting to talk to people about SoFAB. It is even more than exciting, when they get excited too. That is what happened today at a great meeting at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University at Thibodaux, LA. Meeting with Assistant Dean, Anne Parr, we created many bridges to a very promising long-term partnership. I can imagine easily research and exhibit partnerships. We laid that groundwork today. But I can see opportunities to work with students, create new programs and to build a future together - each institution growing stronger with the support of the other.

I am also looking forward to the Culinary Roadshow we are planning on July 28 at Savvy Gourmet. I know that all of the interesting things that people have in their closets will find their way into Savvy Gourmet. What a terrific way for people to have fun, learn a little something about their possessions and to visit with other people who are also interested in culinary gizmos.
Our culinary camp will get into gear in August. We are also planning the Invitation to the Memphis Table to be held at the Inn at Hunt Phelan in Memphis. This is taking place in September. So much is happening and we aren't open yet. Just wait until we are open!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

credit cards

I am wondering when I will be able to have a conversation and not mention the food museum. Never? Today I tried to have lunch with a friend who is moving away, and even though we talked about our boyfriends, we only did that at the end, at her insistance. Instead of sharing our lives, she shared technology tips, for both me and the museum. I have been considering making the leap into buying a blackberry, especially since I am planning all of these fundraisers across the country, and Bridget had lots of advice about them . Also, since the museum now needs to be able to take people's money on the spot at all of these dinners, we need to embrace wireless credit card machies. She directed me to the Market Umbrella, home of the Crescent City Farmer's Market, which has already done some of the research for us and I think we will bite the bullet soon and buy a machine and set up that system. Also, I think this weekend, I will tromp out to the Alltell store and see what they have to offer. I am not terribly excited about this next step, as I have been trying to make my life less consumed by my job, but maybe instead it will help me get a handle on all the tasks and give me more time. Time I can use, for example, to write this blog. And needing to get all of these tasks organized means there are an awful lot of them, which means things are rocking along with the museum, and maybe that is why I cannot quit talking about it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What Do YOU Want?

As we are busily trying to invent this new museum, we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to see in a food and beverage museum. We already have created a good bit of what we have thought about. Right now, one of our exhibits, Restaurant/Restorative, is being readied for shipment to Chicago. It will be open there in August. From there it travels to New York. It means that what we have imagined is coming true.

We have lots more to imagine. Right now we are talking about keeping this exhibit current by focusing on one restaurant that has lots of meaning to the City of New Orleans, Dunbar's. This historic restaurant was flooded and the owners are operating out of the Loyola University cafeteria. That is true grit. We are planning to make their progress a part of our exhibit and show you on our website.

But ultimately we need to know what you want and expect from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Do you want recipes, programs, more traveling exhibits that come to your area, a magazine, more web activities? We need to know. Please let us know!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

full time future

When I started dating my beau, Bill, I know that many of my friends breathed a sigh of relief that now, finally, I would have something else to talk about besides the food museum. And they were right, to a degree. Building an institution is a consuming, exhilerating task and they have heard every detail, and often been corraled into "volunteering" in a variety of ways to get exhibits up, facilitate meetings, proofread text, you name it, they've helped out. So it was with genuine enthusiasm that tonight, some of my good buddies all toasted my moving into a full time position with the museum starting next month. It is something I have been working toward since early 2004 and it not only gives me a tremendous sense of acomplishment, but also confims that the museum is growing stronger than ever. We are all truly on the road to success.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This and That

Last night we had a very interesting program presented by Walter Wolf - thanks, Walter - which was attended by people interested in opening a food based business in New Orleans. It was very heartening to see people who are interested in taking the plunge and start a new business in the city.

I am also excited about the success of the Invitation to the Southern Table events. We have events coming up in Memphis and in Lafayette. More are in the works.

We have a summer camp called "Eating in New Orleans - Who I Am" starting in August. This camp will combine art projects and culinary projects, teaching the art of dining and good nutrition.

We are planning a great event with the French Cultural Attache in New Orleans, our newsletter is being received by an ever-expanding list of people, our library, our artifact collection, archives and menus are growing. We are just riding a rocket, and it is a great experience, establishing this new institution in a city that is emerging from its disaster.

Thanks to everyone who is part of this. And here is a way to celebrate. If you make a show of preparing this, it is even more festive. Ladling flaming coffee into cups is very dramatic. Enjoy.

Café Brûlot

Serves 8

8 sugar cubes
peel of one orange, without pith
peel of ½ lemon, without pith
1 small stick cinnamon
½ tsp. whole cloves
½ cup brandy or bourbon
3 cups hot, freshly brewed dark roast coffee (with chicory if possible)

Rub the sugar cubes with the orange and lemon rinds. Place a sugar cube in each of 8 demitasse cups. Heat the cinnamon stick, orange and lemon rinds, cloves and brandy together in a chafing dish. Flame the mixture. Carefully add the hot coffee. Stir. Ladle the mixture into the prepared demitasse cups.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday I went to Lafayette to meet with several supporters about a fundraiser we are planning to hold in Lafayette sometime in October. They included Michael Doumit, a local restaurateur, Marcelle Bienvenu and Sandra Day, food writers and recipe creators, and Judy Corne, my aunt and Lafayette resident. We discussed several possibilities, but the one that recieved the most interest was to have a boucherie brunch. All of them remarked that true boucheries are held less and less these days. They are such fun but an awful lot of work, and more than anything require a commitment of time---something everyone seems to be in short suppy of these days. I thought having this kind of event would be perectly in keeping with the museum's mission to support the culinary traditions of the south. We are still deciding on a location, but as soon as we do, I will let you all know about it. I bet it will be delicious.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bash in DC

That's me in civilian clothes. From left to right at Chefs Louis Osteen, Ann Cashion, Linton Hopkins, David Guas and Jeff Tunks at Acadiana. Photo by Glade Bilby © 2007.

The fundraiser in Washington, DC at Acadiana on Sunday, June 10 was so much fun. The chefs all outdid themselves, and this was after some of them had driven in with equipment and food from Pawleys Island, SC (Chef Louis Osteen from Louis at Pawleys Island) and Atlanta (Chef Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene). Thanks are also due to Chef Jeff Buben from Vidalia, Chef Ann Cashion from Johnny's Half Shell, Chef David Guas from Acadiana, and most special thanks to the staff and owners of Acadiana, especially Chef Jeff Tunks.

The food was so good that it made me happy to have a stomach. I had gone prepared by wearing lose clothing. We had fried soft-shell crabs, barbeque on biscuits, fried oysters and crawfish, crab, pork belly and shrimp. It was fun. It was full of sparkling conversation.

So now as we plan these events - Invitations to the Southern Table - in other cities, we have a very high bar set. But you can look forward to events in Memphis, Natchez, Boca Raton, Nashville, Lafayette, Jackson, MS, and Dallas, just to name a few.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NO Rum

Well, actually, there was plenty of rum at Celebration Distillation Corporation, where Old New Orleans Rum is made. You might know this beverage in some of its older incarnations including NO Rum and New Orleans Rum. But its newest moniker, post-Katrina, is Old New Orleans Rum. Though immediately after the storm there was concern they would not be able to re-open, they have returned and are thriving. That should not come as a suprise to anyone who has had the fortune to sample their tasty wares.

Last night I attended a party to promote some of their new rums, including a very spicy and not too sweet Creole Spice Rum. The attendees were mostly local bartenders, but relatives and friends of the employees were also welcome. I took a tour of the distillery with master distillers Gavin and Chris and then got to sample not only the new spiced rum, but also savor their new ginger rum served up in a great cocktail called a Gingeroo: rum mixed with freshly pressed ginger juice, sour and soda. Delicious!

My friend Monique (who is the sister of one of the employees) and I also had special access to the lab where we sampled some really outstanding and startlingly flavored rums. The strawberries steeped in Crystal rum was my favorite flavor, but I won't soon forget the extra spicy rum with 6 chile peppers in the bottle! Memorable, to say the least. I am hoping that the museum will be able to partner with Old New Orleans Rum in the near future and create a special tasting event for our members and others in the community. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I think I'll go have a nip of their aged Amber rum with a lime. To keep the scurvy away, of course...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Off to DC

I am off to Washington, DC today. Tomorrow night there will be a grand fundraiser for SoFAB at Acadiana restaurant. Many of our Board members are either participating as chefs or attending. This is going to be such a fun event. I am still half asleep, having gotten up at the crack of dawn to make it to the airport in time for the flight. But I am full of anticipation.

Things are full of promise for the museum right now. We are right on the cusp of an explosion of activity. We have begun to actually plan the museum - its design, the permanent exhibits, and the way that it will operate. We are already making in roads all over the South, meeting people who have collections of artifacts and books, who are interested in supporting us. More people are sending us menus, so that important collection is growing. We are taxiing down the runway, about to take off. And it is very exciting.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Culinary Corps and PoBoys

On Friday night I joined a group of culinary students, instructors, and supporters from all over the country, who have traveled to New Orleans to do good. We all sat eating the very best roast beef poboys at Kevin Parker's Jazzy Poboys on Port Street. This is the kind of poboy that is so juicy that juice drips down your arms to your elbows. I looked at everyone and smiled at how the communion of poboys can make us all happy.

The people who traveled to New Orleans are going to be here doing good for about a week. Some of them have decided to live here. We are trying to enlist them in collecting menus for the Menu Project of SoFAB. We are collecting menus from restaurants throughout the entire South. In addition we are collecting menus from restaurants which consider themselves southern restaurants in other parts of the United States and the world. If you have a menu from a cajun restaurant in Tokyo, we want it.

Culinary Corps is the brainchild of Christine Carroll. She is showing us once again, how much heart the people in the culinary industry have. I want to thank all of the participants for their generosity. And our thanks to Christine for not only having a great idea, but for having the tenacity and the creativity to make the idea a reality.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Produce Promise

So the plan to not waste anymore produce is going well, and here's why. I am taking advice I have read about how to change one's diet or lose weight and am applying that to this new habit: start with very small steps. I have decided, at least for the next few weeks to only buy one vegetable that needs cooking per week and no more. Here's why. It's so easy to go to the grocery or farmer's market, see all the pretty vegetables, think how healthy I'd be if I ate them all, buy them all and then get busy and cook none of them. So last week, I only bought 2 eggplants and a ton of tomatoes (since all you have to do is slice them). I dug out my binder where I stick all of the recipes I want to cook one day and found an eggplant recipe I wanted to try. This recipe based on an ancient Greek recipe where you roast the eggplant and mix it with ricotta, walnuts and a little honey. Wow! It was delicious. I'm going to see if I can be strong at the farmer's market this weekend and only come back with one bag of produce and try to stick to my plan. We'll see...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Road Trip to Memphis

This past week-end, Elizabeth Pearce (Senior Curator) and I took a road trip to Memphis. Part of representing the South at SoFAB is traveling the South. On the way from New Orleans we stopped at the Tomato Museum in Crystal Springs, MS, but found it closed. That will be a stop on another trip. But that was probably our only disappointment. We visited at the Hunt Phelan Inn - more about that soon - met many great people, ate serious barbeque and fixings, and travelled that part of the state. We hope that we have made connections for borrowing artifacts for future exhibits. And we collected menus!

At one stop we ate a wonderful cole slaw made with very fresh cabbage and apple and pear. Here is my rendition of that recipe.

one head of cabbage sliced thinly
2 apples, chopped
2 pears, chopped
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly

Toss all of the ingredients with a dressing made of 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, the juice of a lemon, a bit of dill seed, salt and pepper. Enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2007

produce problems

I read the other day that over 25% of purchased produce is tossed out due to spoilage. I was thinking of this problem as I pitched my wilted half bunch of parsley and some bruised, sad onions. While I try to stay on top of the vegetables in my fridge, inevitably I keep making promises to that lone eggplant that "Yes, I will roast you. Tomorrow."But then tomorrow comes and I crave sushi or a shrimp po-boy and I put off cooking the eggplant (or zucchini or cabbage or whatever) until it's only fit for the compost pile I keep meaning to start.

And I remembered how the last time I was really diligent about cooking all the produce in my refrigerator was summer 2005, when I belonged to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and prepurchased 8 months of produce to be delivered once a week to my door (well, the bike shop down the street, but close enough.) That summer I became well aquainted with the problem many succesful gardeners face: What else can I do with squash? But no matter how many weeks in a row I faced a box full of pattypan, crook neck and butternut (butternut in the summer? in New Orleans, yes) I managed to cook and eat (or at least serve) them all. Why? Because every week I received an email, updating me on how the farm was doing. How the watermelon failed but the corn showed promise. And, yes, even how to cook all that squash. I was reminded weekly, that someone grew that squash, cared about it, and it deserved to be eaten, not disregarded and eventually thrown out.

The supply of squash came to an abrupt end, but not because its season was over. Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina did terrible damage to this fledgling CSA and Pastime Farms has not yet recovered and reopened, though they are exploring that possibility now. And my regular cooking of produce was replaced with lots of gas station food and other purchased products during my hurrication. Even though I returned home over a year and a half ago, I never got back in that groove of cooking well for myself. And even the vegetables I've purchased from local growers at the farmers market have, I am ashamed to confess, often been left to rot. But I have decided to correct this situation. I am a big believer in resolutions, whether they are made at New Years or Lent or whenever. I am making a summer resolution: No more wasted produce. As the summer presents its bounty to me, the least I can do is eat it with relish, not hide from the silent castigation of my wilting lettuce in the produce drawer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Salting the Region

Our first goal in establishing this new museum was to become established. By that I mean that we wanted people to know who we are and what we do. So we held exhibits in borrowed spaces, we created a website, we began an ambitious project to collect menus from all over the South. We let folks know about our doings and we became "established." But we knew that we would eventually need a bricks and mortar home. Finding that became our second goal.

Now that we have found that place, although we are not occupying it yet, it is time to make sure that the entire region - the South - is not only aware of us, but knows that we represent them. To this end we have embarked on a series of parties, Invitations to the Southern Table, which will take us to cities and towns throughout the South. This week-end we are driving to Memphis. Besides trying to set up an "Invitation" event, we are planning to meet with people and learn about the region and find our how to best represent Memphis in the museum.

Elizabeth Pearce, the Senior Curator, and I will be taking a classic road trip. I am looking forward to road food, barbeque and Southern hospitality. I'll let you know how it went and who we visited.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Food Web

One of the most exciting aspects of building a museum is the group of people who assemble the parts. On the most basic level, the first board and very early supporters and staff were people who shared a vision of what could be. Those people made the dream more than just a crazy idea. We were all validated by each other's belief and support. Whenever one of us thought that our ideas were insane or unachievable, some other one of us would help steady the course.

As we have established an identity and become more well known, our circle has grown. It still takes imagination and faith to see where we are going. And as the group of believers grows, the more we seem to accomplish. Now we have a website, have several exhibits under our belt, including one that is traveling, we have a terrific regional board and terrific projects and partnerships.

But on a personal level I am able to meet some great and interesting people who are doing fabulous things. People interested in food are caring and they are doers, and it is great to be around them. Today I received emails and phone calls that make me so happy to be part of this exciting project. I am fortunate enough to have these conversations everyday. The web of people embracing SoFAB is ever-expanding.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Perils of the Internet

If you have been looking for us today, you won't find us. I can't blame a computer or even say that things were lost in the ether. This was human error at our domain name registrar. This is one of the perils of modern times - being lost without an internet identity - and we are temporarily a victim. Please check for us again tomorrow, when our identity should have again populated the internet.

In the meantime, we continue to grow our Museum and celebrate the food and culture of the South.

Friday, May 4, 2007

What Would Mary Frances Do?

I have been reading Poet of the Appetites, Joan Reardon's biography of M.F.K. Fisher, and have come to love the fact that Mary Frances did not write memoir, but wrote what she wanted to have been true. So I have decided to take the persona that she created at face value, and have asked myself the question, "What would Mary Frances do?", as I experience assorted events. Last night was one such event. I attended a wonderful dinner paired with various Abita beers. This event took place at Ralph's on the Park in New Orleans. This event was one that I attended solo and knew few people. I was there to just experience. It was wonderful.

I spent the evening learning about the brewing business in general from brewers and about the history of the business in New Orleans from long-time industry insiders. All of this great conversation was had while enjoying a well-conceived meal that paired with beer. As one person exclaimed, eating chocolate cake while drinking beer is a very liberating experience.

My favorite Abita beer is Abita Turbo Dog. I like the slightly bitter finish and depth of flavor. I liked that it wasn't served too cold to taste it. It was served with a grilled pork chop and the most wonderful smothered greens. The evening was absolutely delightful - good talk, good drinks, good eats. I think that I would have been happy eating a bowl of those greens with a glass of Turbo Dog, imagining myself being M.F.K. Fisher, balancing the day, not the meal.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Beginnings

It's hard to believe that just three years ago a small group began the process of establishing a museum - from scratch - to celebrate the food and drink of the South. We are doing it without a recipe. Today we have a growing institution which is looking at an exciting and interesting future.

Just last week there was a terrific event that brought us together around the table in New Orleans. Mannie Berk, President and founder of The Rare Wine Company, served us terrific Madeiras and wines, as we ate a lovely meal that was especially created for us. Mannie explained the significance of Madeira in American history and in the Southern states.

Events are being planned in Washington, DC (at Acadiana, Jeff Tunks terrific place) on June 10, and also in Lafayette, LA, Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN, Atlanta, GA, Natchez, MS and also in Florida and Texas. I am looking forward to traveling around the South, meeting people and talking about SoFAB.

I am also excited that our Menu Project is growing by leaps and bounds. Readers can participate in this project by sending us menus from everywhere that you eat. Restaurants outside of the South, even outside of the US, which purport to serve Southern food also count for our collection. Just like Italian restaurants and Thai restaurants, Southern restaurants have made their way around the country and the world. We need their menus to document those travels.


Welcome to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum Blog. We'll be posting entries here on a variety of subjects. We hope you enjoy it and visit often!