Archive for the ‘Food in the News’ Category

Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean Basin – 2010 Words in Food Symposium

September 20, 2010

Join the Southern Food and Beverage Museum for our second annual Words in Food Symposium Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 1st through 3rd. The theme of the 2010 symposium is Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. Scholars, researchers, food writers and others will discuss the cross influences in the region, the ecology and cultural exchanges, as well as other issues and ideas. We will also discuss the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the food and culture of the area. Presentations will focus primarily on the countries that have a coast on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Participation in the symposium is open to all.

The symposium covers three days, October 1-3, 2010.  Speakers and panelists include James Carville, who will launch a new lecture series at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Contemporary Issues Impacting Southern Food and Beverages.  He will speak about the cultural impact of the oil spill, culinary and otherwise. Jessica Harris, noted culinary historian, author, and educator, will give the keynote address and sit on other panels, including Rum.

Please visit our website to learn more about the panels, panelists, and other speakers.


Call for Papers: Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin

May 11, 2010

Call for Papers

Words in Food Symposium

Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin

Southern Food and Beverage Museum, New Orleans

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, New Orleans, in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans and the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard University, is extending a call for papers for its second annual Words in Food Symposium. The symposium will occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 2010.

The theme of the 2010 symposium is Eating in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin.   Scholars, researchers, food writers and others will present information about the cross influences in the region, the ecology and cultural exchanges, as well as other issues and ideas. Presentations will focus primarily on the countries that have a coast on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Participation in the symposium is open to all. We intend to include food presentations as well as oral presentations at this event.

The purpose of these conference presentations is to provide high-quality, innovative education and idea sharing for professionals. Our multiple-day, multiple-track format offers a self-directed, facilitated learning environment with education sessions, interactive forums, and panel discussions. Presentation sessions, designed to transcend all industry sectors, focus on current and emerging issues, best practices, and challenges about food and food-related issues.

Due to the number of proposals expected, we will not be able to accept every one, and we may combine individual proposals with similar topics to create a panel session. We anticipate numerous presenters. We hope you understand with these numbers, we are unable to cover expenses, so speakers are expected to pay travel expenses. We encourage innovative panels and presentations.

Please provide a description of your idea for a presentation or a 90-minute panel discussion in 250 words or less. There are no fees required to submit a proposal.

  • · Please provide contact information: name; title; affiliation/organization; address; phone number; fax Number; email address; website address (if applicable for your topic or organization). If you are proposing a panel presentation, provide the same contact information for each speaker and the moderator.
  • At the present time, proposals must be in English only.
  • Proposals should describe original work.
  • All proposals must be non-sales or marketing orientated.
  • Please list any anticipated audiovisual equipment needs.
  • Proposals are due July 15, 2010.

If accepted, expect to provide a full paper for publication in the Conference Proceedings which will be distributed to conference participants via email. If slide presentations are submitted for inclusion in the Proceedings, a narrative description must accompany them. Proceeding papers are due in electronic form during or immediately following the conference.

To submit by email, send your proposal and any electronic attachments to Chris Smith,

The Underground Gourmet’s Platonic Legacy

March 17, 2010

by Faine E. Greenwood

New Orleans lost one of its longest-standing food legends in January with the passing of 78-year-old Richard H. Collin, otherwise known as the Underground Gourmet. Collin died in Birmingham, where he relocated after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. But the Philadelphia-born Collin was a consummate New Orleans man, and his contribution to the food culture of the city was defined by his game-changing “Underground Gourmet” guidebook to the city.  Arguably the city’s first real restaurant critic, beginning at the New Orleans States-Item in 1972, Collin’s legacy will loom large in NOLA’s culinary world for a long time to come.

The first Underground Gourmet New Orleans guidebooks first appeared in 1970, as part of a series originating in New York City, published by Simon and Schuster. The ambitious and food-obsessed Collin wrote to the publishing company to ask if he might do a New Orleans version, and to his surprise, the publishers awarded the as-yet-unproven restaurant critic the contract.

Collin enthusiastically rose to the challenge, tirelessly researching, eating, and exploring the food of his adopted city, drawing from luxury epicurean palaces, low-rent poboy joints, and ethnic restaurants in almost equal numbers.  The resulting guide was written in Collin’s characteristically laissez-faire style, perfectly suited to the character of the Crescent City – the book proved an immediate success. Opinionated, hyper-intelligent, and adventurous, the Underground Gourmet books provided a fantastic introduction to the city’s food for tourists and locals alike.

Collin was an adventurous eater. His book was one of the first to devote attention and affection to the city’s smaller hole-in-the-wall restaurants, moving beyond the traditional French-Creole stalwarts into the soul food joints, poboy houses, and working man’s lunch-spots of the general public.  Collins didn’t mince words or hang fire on lousy restaurants, either: one chapter is, after all, entitled “The Great Center City Disaster Area,” enumerating Collin’s justifiable disdain for the poor food served to the business lunch set (one can only hope that matters have improved). Collin’s disapproving descriptions include such damnations as “Keystone Kops levels of amateurism,” “watery Northern coffee,” and just plain “absolutely awful.”

But Collin’s praise could be as potent as his criticism: when a restaurant really got something right, The Underground Gourmet’s enthusiasm was marvelously obvious.  As he explained in the introduction to the guide, he approached restaurants as an “incurable optimist,” and was capable of waxing rhapsodic about a “heady” shrimp remoulade at Galatoire’s, an “exquisite” raw oyster, or a “beautiful” dish of butter-soaked barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale.  Needless to say, New Orleans restaurateurs of the era quickly learned to both respect and fear the Underground Gourmet’s criticism.

New Orleans food buffs of all stripes will appreciate a browse-through of the easy to find 1973 revised edition of the guide: the book provides a fascinating time capsule into what New Orleans cuisine was and represented in that particular era, and Collin’s remarks on still-existent restaurants are illuminating and often highly entertaining. Antoine’s, Pascal’s Manale, the Camellia Grille and other modern-day stalwarts are addressed here, as well as a cotorie of gone-but-not-forgotten eating emporiums, some dearly missed and some not so much. Collin’s dining world in 1970’s New Orleans contained considerably more aspics and “tropique” salads then our own does, and startlingly cheaper prices. One cannot help but long for the days when you could still order a nice sirloin steak for the princely sum of $5.50. (One also wonders where the remarkable assemblage of fine Chinese restaurants the city used to possess has gone).

Collin’s notion of a “platonic” dish was perhaps his trademark eating thesis and the most fascinating idea to come out of his food writing:  to the Underground Gourmet, a  “platonic dish” was “the best imaginable realization of a particular dish,” a preparation that perfectly captured the essence of New Orleans cuisine, a dish that could not (and would not) be equaled anywhere else or in any other locale. Commander’s Palace’s Oysters Bienville, Galatoire’s Trout Meuniere Amandine, and Casamento’s New Orleans Oyster Loaf were all awarded this philosophically-meaningful honor: Collin’s was not afraid to make it clear when a dish did meet his always-stringent expectations.

Richard Collin’s wife, Rima, was herself a formidable food authority. A former Fulbright scholar in France, she founded the New Orleans Cooking School in 1980, and provided counsel, advice, and delicious food to her husband for the entirety of their long and prosperous marriage. The two self-described “oddball academics” worked well together inside and outside the home: Richard and Rima authored the classic New Orleans Cookbook in 1975, an ambitious tome that gathered what the couple felt to be the most authentic Creole recipes in existence. The two tirelessly researched the book’s contributions, attempting to gather, test, and perfect “platonic” versions of iconic Creole preparations, ranging from gumbos to oyster loaves to baked quail and other classic Creole specialties.  Their efforts paid off. The resulting two hundred and eighty-eight recipes included remain excellent examples of real-deal Creole cuisine, a quality the public immediately recognized upon the book’s release. The Collin’s couple’s “New Orleans Cookbook” remains in print to this day and is estimated to have sold over 100,000 copies. Another little known fact: the book was edited by legendary editor Judith Jones, best known (of course) for her work with Julia Child.

Richard and Rima Collin also collaborated on “The Pleasures of Seafood,” an extensive treatment of seafood preparations from around the world. After Rima’s passing in 1998, Collin wrote the 2002 “Travels with Rima,” a celebratory and poignant elegy in travelogue form, a book that remains a testament both to the couple’s love and to their shared adventuresome spirit.

Collin’s expertise ranged further than food. He served as a well-loved emeritus professor of history at UNO, and was a highly regarded Theodore Roosevelt scholar, publishing Theodore Roosevelt’s Caribbean in 1990. He delighted in travel (especially with Rima), the opera, and fine art, as well as the many delights of his native Crescent City.  Collin’s life was not one lived without a consideration of pleasure.

The multi-faceted and multi-talented Richard H. Collin will doubtless be fondly remembered and revered for his contribution to New Orleans’s food culture. Let us hope that the Underground Gourmet’s platonic dishes will be enjoyed in the city he loved for a long time to come.

Food in the “News” – Cake Wrecks

November 12, 2009

Stephanie Jane Carter

In the spirit of our sweet theme this month, it seems impossible to ignore one of our favorite food sites, Cake Wrecks.  Celebrating professional cakes gone horribly wrong, the site was full of new wrecks for Veterans’ Day.  Since we cannot do the site justice (pun intended) here, in the name of “Amercia” (that is not a typo), visit this site.

Perhaps a few of you remember an issue of SoFAB Monthly last November that poked a little fun at Baskin Robbins’ turkey-shaped cake.  We forgot about it, but Cake Wrecks did not.  They have a photo of the way it was advertised and a photo of the purchased product.  It’s a wreck, but amusing.

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

September 18, 2009

Healthy, Tasty Pizza? Almost a year ago, anthropologist and entrepreneur Jeff Leach gave a talk at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, titled “The Fiber Defense Diet: A Nutritional Strategy for Achieving Modern Health in the Modern World.”  Leach’s  Naked Pizza, a pizza place that features healthy ingredients like “prebiotic multigrain crust,” was relatively new to the New Orleans neighborhood.  Today, it is a pizza place with the same mission and goals for expansion.  The New York Times columnist Rob Walker featured it the NYT Sunday Magazine this week.  Read the Article.

A Little R & R The Green Revolution, with its focus on reusing and recycling, is well underway.  Restaurants and Institutions report on ways that restaurants and institutions have jumped on the bandwagon, employing innovative ways to reuse and recycle.  A Dallas Restaurant sends corks to school art programs.  Johnson and Wales in North Carolina composts 60 tons of food waste each year.  Read the Article.