Gravy

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

The Fight for Water and Oysters (Gravy Ep. 3)

Atlanta can seem like it’s a very long way from the oystering communities in Florida’s Panhandle. There are, in fact, hundreds of miles between them. But there are ways even distant places are intimately connected, perhaps more intimately than you’d guess. And when one of those places is in trouble, those connections get revealed.

This is the story of what’s happening to the oysters in Apalachicola Bay, and why that has inspired interstate legal battles—even a Supreme Court lawsuit. It’s also the story of what a place whose whole identity revolves around seafood does, when that seafood is threatened. 

Direct download: The_Fight_for_Water_and_Oysters_Gravy_Ep._3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am EST

In cities and towns across the South, an increasing number of the folks offering up latte art and high-end pourover brewing are devout Christians. Is it an unlikely and subtle tool for proselytizing? Or a more nuanced expression of 21st Century Christianity, intertwined with social events and professional endeavors. 

Direct download: Separation_of_Church_and_Coffee_Gravy_Ep._2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am EST

For Thanksgiving, a Native American story… but not the one you’re imagining. No Pilgrims here. For the Lumbee Indians in North Carolina, the holiday meal involves cornbread, collards and a whole lot of pork. The Lumbee food story is a portal to a hybrid Southern-Native history that’s rarely glimpsed outside the tribe. Through Lumbee foods, we get to know this tribe in Robeson County, its persistence through colonialism, poverty, and Jim Crow era of tri-racial segregation. And we get to taste the stereotype-shattering reality of Indian foodways.

Direct download: Lumbee_Thanksgiving_FINAL_MIX.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EST

Direct download: Gravy_Launch_Teaser_11-14-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EST