Gravy

What do the restaurants of your childhood say about the place you grew up? In Jack Hitt’s case, the Oysters Mornay and Escargots Bourguignonne of his Charleston, South Carolina home revealed a South attempting to be less… Southern.

This was the 1970s, an era in which serving shrimp & grits in a fine dining restaurant was about as chic as wearing your bathrobe out on the town. Fine for home, not for going out. Bu the fancy fake French food of that period tells us plenty about Southern identity—then and now. In this episode of Gravy, Jack Hitt digs through his youthful dining exploits to see what Baked Alaska uncovers about what the South longed to be and what it was.

Direct download: Southern_Fried_Baked_Alaska_Gravy_Ep._28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32am EST

Delta Jewels (Gravy Ep. 27)

When Alysia Burton Steele moved to Mississippi, she found herself drawn to the Delta. Something about it reminded her of her grandmother, who’d grown up in rural South Carolina. That observation would lead Alysia on a journey of discovery, seeking out the stories of elderly women of her grandmother’s generation. Their memories often focused on food. And they painted a portrait of the Mississippi Delta that is usually missed by an outside world that focuses on the poverty, the racism, the hardship. In this episode of Gravy, the stories church mothers across the Mississippi Delta reveal a region of extraordinary generosity.

Direct download: Delta_Jewels_Gravy_Ep._27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Black-eyed peas and collards. Fried chicken and peach cobbler. Customers at Delicious Southern Cuisine in Los Angeles come for these soul food staples, a taste that reminds some of their Southern roots. But: there’s a different narrative going on in the kitchen… one with a Latino flavor.

When Southerners leave the South, their food comes too. Hence, the density of soul food restaurants in cities that were destinations for African Americans during the Great Migration, cities like Los Angeles. But there have been many other migrants to Southern California… And that makes for mash-ups of Southern food and other cuisines. In this episode of Gravy, Lena Nozizwe takes us to two restaurants that serve up an edible version of the demographic shifts of in their Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Direct download: South_by_South_of_the_Border_Soul_Food_Gravy_Ep._26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29am EST

How is a region of the far north—Canada—intimately connected to a region 2,000 miles away in the Deep South? It’s a story that begins 250 years ago, and involves both loss and reunification, the reconnection of a people with shared ancestry.

In this episode of Gravy, Simon Thibault looks at how a bunch of Acadians, the cousins of the Cajuns of Louisiana, came to understand their extended family through copious meals of gumbo, boudin, jambalaya and everything étouffé’d that they can eat. 

This group of Acadians, some of whom have made a life in Lafayette, not only found a second home, but a second family in Louisiane. They’ve learned what it truly meant to be un bon cadien, and subsequently looked at their own Acadian identity, and how and where culture is transmitted through generations. 

Direct download: The_Cajun_Reconnection_Gravy_Ep._25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EST

They’re everywhere: in your fancy cocktail bar and your down home country restaurant. In the hands of farmer’s market shoppers and 7-Eleven Slurpee slurpers. How did mason jars get to be so ubiquitous? How did they come to be embraced by the DIY canner and the hipster chicken & waffles restaurant? And what does their omnipresence tell us about the cultural cache of the South?

In this episode of Gravy, Gabe Bullard takes on the cultural politics of the Mason Jar: how it became hip, and what that hipness means.

Direct download: The_Mason_Jar_Pickle_Gravy_Ep._24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EST

One of the more important places for the modern Southern (and American) diet may be... an obscure army base in Natick, Massachusetts. The Combat Feeding Directorate looks just like any other suburban office park, but it’s an origin point for many of the processed foods that find their way onto our grocery store shelves. In this episode of Gravy, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of "Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat," takes host Tina Antolini along on an investigation of how the military’s food engineering research for combat rations has filtered down to the food we civilians eat.

Direct download: Combat_Ready_Kitchen_Gravy_Ep._23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56am EST

While West Virginia may be known for resources like coal, the country once turned to this mountain state for a culinary staple: salt. Salt production started in this part of the Appalachian mountains in the late 1700s. It was an industry built on the backs of slaves, and one that proved destructive to the region’s environment. Now, a seventh generation salt-making family is reviving the business. In this week’s episode of Gravy, Caleb Johnson and Irina Zhorov bring us the story of one family's attempt to reconcile its salt-making past with a more environmentally and socially responsible future.  


What does *not* eating meat say about you? In one young biracial man’s family, his dietary change was construed as white, elite, even feminine. In the new episode of Gravy, radio producer Renee Gross tells us Choya Webb’s story, and how he has navigated the cultural politics of going vegetarian. For Choya, it has to do with more than food—it has to do with race and sexual orientation.

Direct download: Coming_Out_Meatless_Gravy_Ep._21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EST

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, how does the city’s food reveal how the place has changed? This hour-long special episode of Gravy takes on that question, from what was eaten just after the storm to the stories of two restaurants that tap into the post-Katrina gentrification and marketing of New Orleans to the outside world.

In part one, we hear the personal stories of three New Orleanians, taken from blogs they kept in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Food figures largely in their writing, and that food reveals residents who were already wrestling with what had irrevocably changed and what was holding true about their city. In part two: what does a once-bohemian wine store and restaurant in one of the city’s fastest gentrifying neighborhoods show us about the cultural transformation that part of town is undergoing? Writer Sara Roahen brings us the story of Bacchanal and the Bywater. And in part three: was the post-storm resurrection of a beloved soul food restaurant in New Orleans uniformly a good thing? Reporter Keith O’Brien tells the story of the rebuilding of Willie Mae’s Scotch House, once purely a local’s favorite which now serves a growing clientele of tourists.  

Direct download: Red_Beans_Red_Wine__Rebuilds_Gravy_Ep._20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EST

The Shoals is a community in Northwest Alabama made up of four towns: Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. Tucked in the foothills of the Tennessee River Valley, the Shoals is an hour from any interstate, and at least a two-hour drive from the nearest big cities—Nashville to the north and Birmingham to the south.

 

The Shoals is one of the most documented places in the world of music. The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, the Allman Brothers, Bobbie Gentry, even the Osmond Brothers -- all made pilgrimages to record at legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, with locals like Percy Sledge and the Swampers, FAME’s in-house rhythm section.

But music is only part of the cultural story here. There’s a rich food culture, too. On this Gravy Road trip, we take a look at two sides of that story, one a local icon and the other, a newer kid in town.

 

 

Direct download: Gravy_Shoals_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EST