Archive for the ‘Around the South’ Category

A Quick Bite: Visiting Oyster Beds

June 8, 2010

On June 1, 2010, SoFAB Director Liz Williams spent the day on an oyster boat out of Grand Isle.  Her thoughts follow.

The Collins oyster family in Golden Meadow - from the Times-Picayune

Visiting the closed oyster beds around Grand Isle, Louisiana was a bittersweet experience.  Seeing and hearing about the brave adaptations being made by the oystermen who cannot harvest their own beds.  People who are selling retail from the few beds that are open in order to make ends meet.  Closed restaurants and curtailed menus are everywhere.

Yet the water is calm – covered by pelicans and gulls – flying and diving over the surface.  Dolphins lazily rise for a breath.  It is so peaceful, that it is hard to associate the scene with the turmoil of emotions that are boiling up because of the oil spill in the Gulf Mexico.  The only hint at the oil that had been in and out of the bay a week earlier was a bit of visible oil clinging to marsh grass here and there.  That was enough to make me feel the grip of concern in the pit of my stomach.  It made the spill real to a person in the city who only has indirect evidence of the problem.

The very special people who are in the oyster industry are the guardians of our coast.  The very act of protecting and cultivating their beds creates a protective barrier against storms that helps us all.  That way of life and those protectors are at risk.  In spite of this they good-naturedly took a group of us out in their boat and brought up oysters.  We ate them warm and fresh right on the boat.  The oysters are threatened by oily tides that may come, as well as by the fresh water lowering the salinity of the bay.  That fresh water is being diverted to the bay by the state of Louisiana in an attempt to keep the oil from coming into the bay.  It may be the fresh water that kills the oysters, not the oil.  All of the ironies, all of the uncoordinated actions, everything is culminating in a threat to the oysters.

I enjoyed the oyster festival this past weekend in New Orleans, celebrating the oyster, the oyster farmers and the chefs.  I can only hope that it is the first of many such festivals.


Photos from Liz’s Adventure


A Pig Pickin’, Corn Shuckin, Ice Cream Churnin’, Wine Slurpin’ Good Timin’ HOOTENANNY and other VA/WestVA events

May 11, 2010

Fundraiser Virginia April 24, 2010The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, located in New Orleans, has an obligation to get out and celebrate the entire American South.  We know what you are thinking.  It is such a hard job to have to travel to so many wonderful places, eat such amazing regional dishes, drink the drinks, dance the dances, and walk the walks (or saunter), but we are here to do it.

On April 24, we were up in Virginia to celebrate the Virginia Historic Garden Tour and to get the word out about the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  We had the pleasure of setting up a little table in front of Locke Store (Millwood, Virginia), next to a local tomato farmer.  Thanks to Locke Store and to Melinda Carter for all the support.

On June 27, from 2-5 p.m., Anne Hart and Dale Hawkins will host a pig pickin’, corn shuckin’ ice cream churnin’, wine slurpin’, good timin’ HOOTENANY  at Fish Hawk Acres in West Virginia.  Callie Hart Merz will provide vocal entertainment.  This is a benefit for the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  For more information, email

Will Run for Food

October 13, 2009

Photo by George Waguespack

by Stephanie Jane Carter

An early morning run (or a drive to Manchac, Louisiana) may not always get me out of bed on a Saturday, but the idea of refueling with Middendorf’s famous thinly sliced fried catfish helps. This past Saturday, the Middendorf’s 5K and 10-mile run was held in recognition of the Manchac restaurant’s 75th anniversary.  The weather (breezy, gentley drizzling with overcast skies) was reasonably good for running, but apparently very bad for frying catfish.  Before the 8 AM start-time, race officials announced that Middendorf’s power was out and the outlook for catfish consumption was dimming.  I expected a collective sigh and a few people to turn around and head back to their cars, which did not happen.  The cheerful runners gathered under the start-gate and gazed up at the hill that would commence the run.

Middendorf’s hosted a delightful run that managed to illustrate an important lesson rarely practiced in our notably chubby society.  It is okay to eat things like fried food sometimes, as long as they are balanced by the appropriate physical activity.  We can celebrate food, in all of its manifestations, while maintaining our health.  The race also seemed to make a point about those who are too focused on their physique.  That can be nearly impossible to maintain or enjoy, without some indulgences.  Denying oneself something all the time (whether it is an indulgence like fried catfish or a commitment to physical health), is never a safe place to be.

Around 10 a.m., due to some bad advice from the woman manning the Michelob Ultra Stand for thirsty post-race runners, my group left with bellies hungry for catfish but temporarily sated with Chee Wees’s.  According to the New Orleans Track Club, “Even with an area power outage that was not fixed until 9:30 AM Middendorf’s Restaurant managed to quickly cook and serve their signature fried thin catfish with cole slaw and potato salad to all in attendance in a matter of a few minutes.”  (  Perhaps another lesson here, which I failed at, was patience.  There may have been a promise of fried catfish, but it was still Saturday morning and my brain just wasn’t all there.

Running, food, and balance, and community for all those solitary runners – it was worth waking up for.