We are on the road headed towards Alabama now from North Carolina and Virginia where the Cooking Gene got off to a great start! We are buying postcards to send our contributors and just overwhelmed by the hospitality and openness we are experiencing from friends and strangers alike. The heat is just starting to pick up after a few days of cool nights and light fog. Traveling areas where my family’s story began has been humbling–I’m looking for them in every part of the landscape—the clay, the sand, the sweetgums, longleaf pines and oaks and hickories. The Cooking Gene is already telling us that we are on the right path to understanding Southern food, African American food, and the African roots of an American culture. Here on Afroculinaria, I’m going to try to document the food we enjoy as a group on the tour.
Nancie McDermott: what can I say–she’s the first culinary luminary of this trip. ChopNC and Holly Smith of the Southern Historical Collection at UNC Chapel Hill co-sponsored the first event of the tour–a talk on the culinary history of enslaved North Carolinians. About 40-50 folks showed up on barely a week’s notice…on a weekday…Nancie made a blackberry cobbler plucked right from the narratives, and a sorghum pie! She made some amazing Thai curry deviled eggs! See these great shots–my friend Johnathan Lewis is down from NYC taking fantastic shots!
My new favorite thing–Sorghum Pie!
We went to Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill with the folks from ChopNC and our new friend Chef Kabui, a Kikuyu chef from Kenya who works with natural foods and organic cuisine often drawing on his African heritage. Folks dined on a light dinner of new Southern favorites including this incredible green peach salad spiked with mint and other herbs.
And I met my new favorite desserts:
Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet 🙂 (taken with phone)
Honeysuckle Sorbet! (by phone camera….)
Friday night we had a special dinner at Nancie’s house, including one of my favorite scholars; Marcie Cohen Ferris, actress Kathy Williams, Rev. Campbell and others! After a quick kiddush and breaking of challah we enjoyed chicken and potato massaman curry, Nancie’s incredible Thai curry deviled eggs, a lovely green salad Marcie brought, Thai chicken wings and another round of Nancie’s expertly made desserts!
HOORAY! Michael, this is awesome! So glad to see you’re blogging from the road. Any idea when you’ll be coming through Columbus, GA? I’ve put out word to some friends in the area, and will put out another Southern Discomfort bulletin if y’all still need a place to stay. Give me a shout on Twitter, or email me from the address I left with this comment.
And thank you again for doing this powerful and important work.