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.