Gravy

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

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: BillSmithTurnsUptheVolume_July2015Revision.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EST

Five years ago this week, the BP oil spill ended. On July 15, 2010, the well that had been spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was capped, after 87 days. It was the largest spill in the nation’s history, and had a devastating impact on Gulf Coast fisheries. The long term effects of the spill continue to reveal themselves for the Louisiana Coast, which has supported communities of fishermen for centuries. But the oil spill isn’t the only thing they’re up against. The land is disappearing, and both man-made and natural disasters are speeding up the sinking process.

What would it be like if the place you’d lived your whole life started to disappear? For Tony Goutierrez of St. Bernard Parish, that’s not just a nightmare scenario. In this episode of Gravy, producer Laine Kaplan Levenson tells us Tony’s story, and what he’s trying to do to maintain his life on the water. 

Direct download: Holding_Onto_the_Bayou_Gravy_Ep._18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EST

Charleston, South Carolina has become the center of discussions about race and violence in America these past few weeks. The massacre of nine African American parishioners at a historic black church there has prompted a national discussion and collective soul-searching: how did this happen in 2015? What work still needs to be done to prevent this sort of racial hatred and terrorism?

But Charleston is also home to a historical bright spot, a moment from 150 years ago that is still inspiring South Carolinians today. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, an unusual dinner party was held in Charleston that brought white and black residents together. In this episode of Gravy, producer Philip Graitcer brings us the story that dinner, and how it’s still resonating today.

Direct download: A_Charleston_Feast_for_Reconciliation_Gravy_Ep._17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am EST

It’s easy to love fried chicken. The light crunch of a crisped wing or leg, followed by the moist meat of the interior; it’s understandably beloved. But there is more going on with this comfort food than you might think. Fried chicken has both been the vehicle for the economic empowerment of a whole group of people—and the accessory to an ugly racial stereotype. How can something so delicious be both? In this episode of Gravy, Lauren Ober goes from a Virginia Fried Chicken Festival to a soul food restaurant in Harlem to find out.

 

Direct download: Fried_Chicken-_A_Complicated_Comfort_Food_Gravy_Ep._16_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am EST

Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” (In fact, the state legislature got a little more specific about it, dubbing the city “the Hickory Smoked Barbecue Capital of North Carolina.”) For more than one hundred years, pitmasters there have been cooking pork shoulders slowly over coals from a wood fire, and slicking them with a sweet, red barbecue sauce.

And so, when Lexington officials began to renovate a municipal building, they were thrilled by an unexpected barbecue-related discovery. In this episode of Gravy, Sarah Delia takes us to Lexington to learn what that was, and what it might mean for a barbecue landscape in which some are worried history is being forgotten.

Direct download: A_City_Built_on_Barbecue_Gravy_Ep._15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EST

People are often surprised when Robin Amer tells them her family is from the South. That’s because her family is Jewish, and a lot of people don’t realize there are Jews in the South, especially in tiny towns like Natchez, Mississippi. But Robin’s family has lived there for 160 years, and their traditions—and foodways—are a unique hybrid of their European Jewish heritage and their Southern home.

The Jewish community in Natchez has been dwindling for years, though. Now, it’s down to only a handful of people, including Robin’s 96-year-old grandmother and 98-year-old grandfather. In this episode of Gravy, Robin returns to Natchez to learn what might be lost when they’re gone.

Direct download: The_Last_Jews_of_Natchez_Gravy_Ep._14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EST