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.

Direct download: The_Jemima_Code_Gravy_Ep._6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am EST

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.

Direct download: The_Emotional_Life_of_Eating_Gravy_Ep._5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EST

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. 

Direct download: Live_at_Freds_Lounge_Gravy_Ep._4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EST