Monday, March 30, 2009

Menus, menus, menus

I haven't really blogged or talked about our Menu Project for a while. People ask me whether it is still on-going. The answer to that question is an unqualified "Yes!" We still want a menu at least once a year from every place that serves food in the South and from those places outside the South - the rest of the US and the whole world - that consider themselves Southern restaurants. We ask for your help.

Every time you eat out, whether it's at a diner, a gas station selling pimento cheese sandwiches, or a white tablecloth emporium, collect a menu. Then send us those menus. We will add them to the collection. When you are ready to discard that file of take out menus by the telephone and replace it with a more up-to-date file, send the old file to us. We want it all. Don't worry about duplicates. We want those too.

Of course, we also want any vintage menus that you can spare, but we are systematically collecting so that we will have the basis for a great research tool. Scholars in the future will be pleased that we collected and collected.

You can read about the collection, which is done in partnership with the Earl K. Long Library at the University of New Orleans, in the current issue of Food Arts magazine.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Southern Table

Perhaps because the phrase is a bit hackneyed, it seems the perfect title for a new exhibit we are planning - The Southern Table. We are constantly aware that as the SOUTHERN Food and Beverage Museum, we have to represent the entire South, although we are located in New Orleans. One way to make that statement visually is to set a round table - just as King Arthur intended, we do not want a head at our table - with place settings furnished by each state and the District of Colomibia. The backs of the chairs will be formed in the shape of each state.

Just yesterday we received a place setting from the governor's office of South Carolina. It is so exciting to see this project proceed and develop. It makes me think of other tables that have been created as art, as well as all of the analogies of peace and communication that eating together represent. Your suggestions for the table are welcome and encouraged.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Missouri a Southern State?

Recently the question of what is a southern state has come up again. Originally we decided to define the south by the generally agreed upon definition of the New South. This decision is not set in stone. As we approach our one year anniversary here at the Riverwalk, I have been having second thoughts about what it means to go forward and just keep doing what we have been doing because that is what we have been doing! So as not to get into a rut - and thereby let opportunity and creativity pass us by - I think that it is time to re-examine the question of what is the south?

I would like your advice and thoughts on the matter. Does Missouri qualify as a southern state? Whatever your answer is -why? What about including Puerto Rico in our embrace? It is not a state, but neither is Washington, DC, and we include it. I am throwing rules to the wind and really want to hear from you about this. Please email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cooking at Home

According to the many articles I have read recently, consumers are preparing dinners at home in order to save money. As a cook, I love the idea that people have a renewed interest in taking part in some of the steps that get food from farm to table. The journey is one of the most nourishing things about a meal.

However, over the past prosperous years, consumers have spent a lot of time eating out or getting prepared food to go at places like Whole Foods. What this means is that while people want to cook at home, many have forgotten how or have never learned in the first place.

After a weekend of cheese-making workshops and cuccidata (Italian cookies) demos, I feel as if the museum provides a service that is particularly relevant and valuable right now. We offer many cooking demonstrations that are free with the price of admission. You don't have to pay for a series of classes - you come to the ones that interest you. If you are a museum member, these classes are free to you.