It’s only Wednesday and this week is looking mighty special so far!
First, a group of fabulous humans have collaborated on a project which explores Southern identity through its foodways. The result of their efforts, A Spoken Dish, debuted this week and the internet is in love. So am I. I’ve watched many of them and am trying hard to resist so I don’t run out and have to stop. The good thing is-looks like they’re working on more!
This spectacular series of vignettes got me thinking about my own ties to Southern food. It got me thinking more specifically about where my love of Southern food has taken me.
For instance, as a double Yankee, spending most of my life in NYC and Massachusetts I did not have my first BBQ rib until very recently. My grandmother’s cornbread recipe, is polenta. That is not to say I denounce my New England/NYC heritage, I will wax poetic on some fried clams, and sing about pizza if you’ll let me.
But back in 2007 a little dish I’d never heard of called Pimento Cheese ended up changing my life. It sent me on a path I am still forging, what I imagine could one day become my own Southern identity.
Wild, right? Well, fortunately there is an organization for folks like me.
Who find home to be not the place I came from, but a place I’m still moving towards, a place I am still learning about and figuring out. A place shaping me, but allowing myself and others like me to help continue to shape it, as it constantly evolves.
The Southern Foodways Alliance hits Richmond this week for its Women, Work and Food Summer symposium. There will be much eating and drinking. There will be celebrating and learning.
There will be truths discussed, some heavy and some light, all lyrical.
There will be connections made and friendships forged.
That to me, is why I am so grateful for my place at their table.
Look, I know this sounds crazy, but that first bite of spicy, mayonnaise laden spread was a catalyst in my search for meaning. It led me not only to the SFA, but to many incredible people, to self discoveries, and thankfully to creative realizations and pursuits which continue to this day.
It helped me to discover how deeply food defines us. How it connects us and how it gives us our sense of place. Even if that place is very unexpected.
It set me on a path toward home. I’ll let you know when I get there.