Natchez, Mississippi/Melrose Plantation
Under the shade of live oaks looking ancient and grizzled with Spanish moss, a hog carcass was split and cooked over pecan wood while a small army of white and black people–young and mature, male and female set to the task of making the food to go with the barbecue. The menu came directly from a Mississippi slave narrative and included purple hull crowder peas, roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage, green corn, and whole chickens and a hog finished off with peach cobbler–all cooked on an open pit over hardwood saplings using antebellum recipes. There was lemonade and cold water and sassafras tea by the gallon. Dialogue happened: recipes, memories, prayers, unity. Children asked questions about things long forgotten. Reconciliation.