Gravy (general)

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.

Direct download: A_Migration_Reversed_Gravy_Ep._13_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am EST

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.


Direct download: Tamales_for_the_Derby_Gravy_Ep._12.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EST

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.

Direct download: Hip_Hop_to_Bibimbap-_the_Atlanta_of_Christiane_Lauterbach_Gravy_Ep._11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57am EST

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.

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.

Direct download: Bill_Smith_Turns_Up_the_Volume_Gravy_Ep._9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EST

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.

Direct download: The_Pie_Formerly_Known_as_Derby_Gravy_Ep._8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

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.

Direct download: Brothers_Soldiers_Farmers_Gravy_Ep._7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EST

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