I thoroughly enjoyed this post on Gourmet's Choptalk blog about the 10th annual Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium: "Way Down South in Mississippi."
In this "bizarre alternate universe," writes Francis Lam, "a ham maker can be accorded the respect due a head of state. There, the parsing of barbecue's savage and cannibalistic undertones is an intriguing line of conversation. There, 'frying chicken' can be presented as a slang term for sex. . . and it somehow makes sense."
Normally, he writes, the Southern Foodways Alliance is "a collection of Southern food lovers, scholars, writers, anthropologists, cooks, farmers, artists, artisans, and philosophers." But "during the half-week that is the Symposium, it's more like a roving gang of whiskey-fueled catfish eaters terrorizing the poor town of Oxford, Mississippi."
Lam writes about a presentation on the story Hercules, perhaps the first American celebrity chef -- and a slave. He writes about eating peanuts in Coca-Cola, the fried catfish at Taylor Grocery, meeting Roy Blount Jr., and "much revelry, fried food, and whiskey." Sounds like a heck of a party.