Archive for the ‘Highlight on Exhibits’ Category

A BBQ Artifact, Bullet Holes and All

September 21, 2010

Shadden’s BBQ, opened for more than 40 years in Marvell, Arkansas, was a place of BBQ pilgrimages for many years.  Housed in a 100-year old general store building in Marvell, Arkansas, Shadden’s was known at various times as the town in a non-town, the place for craps, dancing, fighting, and eating.  Levon Helm of The Band was a regular.

According to a documentary on All South Networks (http://www.allsouthnetworks.tv/details/shaddensbbq.html), Shadden’s was most recently known as an eating place rather than a gambling place.  During its gambling days, 400-500 people would be there on a Saturday night.  According to Wayne Shadden, a $500 fine and a year in jail changed that.  For BBQ lovers, this was the best shift in focus a place could ever make.  Since then, Shadden’s has become a necessary stop on any BBQ pilgrimage.

In its post-gambling incarnation, it was a cross between a roadside grocery and a museum, with “yellowed pictures of smiling families and once-young enlisted men everywhere,” according to Gary Saunders of DixieDining.com.  Jars of giant dill pickles, pickled sausage, and pickles eggs graced the counter tops.

Wayne Shadden died this year at the age of 77.  Shadden’s closed.  With the help of Randy Ensminger, Arkansas board member at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the Shadden’s sign (conspicuously dotted with bullet holes) will live on at the SoFAB in its growing Arkansas exhibit.  BBQ lovers can still come and pay their respects to Shadden’s.

Click here for Shadden’s BBQ Sauce Recipe, from High Cotton Cookin’

SoFAB is always looking for artifacts.  If you want to help, let us know…504-569-0405 or leave a comment on our website, http://www.southernfood.org.

New Orleans con sabor Latino

September 20, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

Edgar Sierras' Plaintains Foster. Photo by Natalie Root Photography

New Orleans has always been a city that thrived on new people and cultures, absorbing the different traditions and foods and integrating them into the city’s own culture. La Louisiane was never a homogenous community, and its ability to accept different ethnicities and adapt to the land was key to its survival. French, Acadians, Germans, Spanish, Native Americans, and Africans were among those people who had to work together to create livable settlements. Food collaboration was an important part of making ends meet, and settlers learned how to produce and use native foods while introducing their own techniques and flavors, thus creating the cuisine of Louisiana Cajuns and Creole. Over the years, later immigrant populations brought their own cuisines, and some larger groups such as the Sicilians and Vietnamese were able to retain their culinary identity while adapting to the local styles and products.

Historically, New Orleans and Louisiana have been closely tied to Spain, Mexico, and Latin American countries.  Even though Spain ruled the Louisiana territory from 1763 until 1803, Spanish speaking influences never seemed to be able to penetrate the dominant French culture.  There are interesting exceptions to that rule, though, as the Isleños of Saint Bernard Parish show. Groups of Spanish Canary Islanders arrived in 1778 as part of the Spanish government’s plan to protect the city of New Orleans from hostile invasion from the British. It was thought that by settling sympathetic people in vulnerable areas, the threatened invasion of the English from the Eastern territory could be halted.

Although this invasion never quite came to pass, the Isleños settled throughout Louisiana, with a pretty serious concentration in St. Bernard Parish. Since it was a fairly insular community, a dialect of Spanish was spoken, and foods such as paella, empanadillos, flan, and candies, as well as a love of fresh fish and game were passed through the generations. Caldo is one example: a soup that is a traditional Canary Island staple, made with tons of fresh vegetables, beans, pork, and carefully guarded family recipes. The Isleños Museum in Chalmette chronicles the lives of this group, and also holds an annual festival, Los Isleños Fiesta, that celebrates the culture of the community. Spanish and Latin American immigrants must have appreciated the existence of the Spanish cultural community and it gradually expanded and crept into the city of New Orleans.

In 2005, a new threat was realized, and this time the British had nothing to do with it. New Orleans and Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and the area was again dependent on immigrant populations to help rebuild and repopulate the city and strengthen the culture that made it special. Latin Americans from Mexico, Honduras, and other Central American countries recognized the need for labor and the potential for good and steady income, and settled in New Orleans to man the rebuilding efforts.

Suddenly a great need for authentic Latin American food arose with this new influx of workers and their families. As the population settled in, the stores and restaurants that sprang up, stocking food supplies and brand names that the immigrants were familiar with, are usually owned and operated by native Spanish speakers who want to reach out and create a sense of community. Shelves overflow with peppers and tortillas, tamale wrappers and corn cakes. Thanks to the higher demand for food on the go, the food truck phenomenon has finally arrived in New Orleans through the now ubiquitous taco trucks.

Adolfo Garcia's LA Drum with Crabmeat Catacones and Avocado Remoulade. Photo by natalie Root Photography

In SoFAB’s newest exhibit, New Orleans con sabor Latino, photographer Natalie Root and curator Zella Llerena have gone through the city and the surrounding areas, finding people with Latin American ties, whether it be ancestral, like Isleños Mike and Donna, first generation, like Chef Adolfo Garcia, or recent arrivals to the city. Through their research, they have found through preparing their traditional food while incorporating elements of Louisiana’s foods, a new cuisine is evolving. Some home cooks add okra to their dishes, others use grits. In professional kitchens, chefs have brought flavors of their homes to the menu while weaving them into the bounty of Louisiana produce and seafood.

This is a cultural shift that seems like it will slowly integrate itself into the food and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, and it is important to recognize the changes that are taking place, and to give credit to those who are helping to make it happen. In the same way that Sicilians and Vietnamese have gradually introduced their foods and communities through stores and restaurants to become part of the fabric of the region’s culture, Latin Americans are poised to settle in.

More reading…

Gambit’s article on Latin American Food stores: http://bestofneworleans.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A49431

Slate’s article post-K about influx of Latin American workers: http://www.slate.com/id/2140224/entry/2140240

Rio Mar’s site and mission statement: http://www.riomarseafood.com/about-us/welcome/

John Folse’s Caldo

Prep Time: 2 Hours
Yields: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 pound white beans
1 pound diced ham
1 pound pickled meat or smoked sausage
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup minced garlic

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 gallon cold water
1 (15-ounce) can string beans
2 (15-ounce) cans mustard greens
2 (15-ounce) cans spinach
1 (15-ounce) can corn
1 (15-ounce) can peas
1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes
1 (15-ounce) can yellow squash
1 (15-ounce) can new potatoes
1 and 1/2 heads shredded cabbage2 ears corn
salt and black pepper to taste
Louisiana hot sauce to taste

Method:

In a 12-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ham and pickled meat and sauté until golden brown. Stir in onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic. Saute 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add white beans, tomato sauce and water. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook 1 hour or until beans are tender. Blend in all canned vegetables along with cabbage and fresh corn. Continue to cook over medium heat approximately 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Additional water may be added to retain consistency during cooking. Serve as a soup over steamed white rice.

Recipe from WFAB.com

Exhibit: Photography by Eugenia Uhl

May 11, 2010

by Chris Smith

Eugenia Uhl’s career as a professional food stylist and photographer began years ago in her mother’s kitchen.

“I learned to cook at an early age,” she says. “That was fun. We still cook together. I guess I just like food because I am half-Italian. I grew up around food.”

The New Orleans native has been shooting food for 18 years now. Her new show in the photography gallery of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum is simply titled “The Food Photography of Eugenia Uhl” and spans her entire career.

“I thought it would be nice to show a broad range of types of photography that I do,” she says. “I do a lot of commercial food photography, but I try to get a creative element in there to make it more artful, and not just food photo work.”

The exhibit contains work from the five cookbooks that feature Uhl’s photography.

·         New Orleans Home Cooking by Dale Curry;

·         The Galatoire’s Cookbook;

·         The Commander’s Palace cookbook;

·         The Palace Café cookbook; and

·         The Bywater Cookbook, featuring recipes from the Mirliton Festival.

Uhl says that her main goals in creating an appealing photo involve focusing on the color, lighting, and composition. She frequently shoots food that she has prepared.

Uhl sometimes ventures outside of the food realm. She also shoots interiors, still life, and portraits, including pets.

The Photography of Eugenia Uhl will be on exhibit through the middle of July. Many of the photos on exhibit also are available for sale.

More information…

New Exhibit: Acadian to Cajun, Forced Migration to Commercialization

February 1, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

The Acadian to Cajun Exhibit will open April 30th at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  It will explore the history of the Acadians from the point of The Great Expulsion of 1755-1763 from Nova Scotia, Canada to those that settled in Louisiana and eventually became Cajun.  The exhibit explores the history of the Acadian diet and agricultural life to cross-cultural cooking that developed Cajun cuisine and the later commercialization of Cajun food culture in the 20th century.

Louisiana is known for its food, its culture, and the resilient spirit of its residents. Cajuns are an integral part of all of these perceptions of the state; they are a people with a long, troubled history who have created a unique way of life. Their story begins on the far-east coast of Canada, in what is known now as Nova Scotia, where a group of French explorers and fur traders made their home in the New World at the beginning of the 17th century.

It was a struggle for the settlers to adapt to the harsh climate-many died or fled the territory. The survivors, with the help of Native Americans, eventually carved out a life and dealt with the world politics that gave Britain and Scotland a claim to the territory. When France reclaimed the area, they sent more settlers, supplies, and women to cement their claim in the 1630s. With their extraordinary resilience and adaptability, Acadians would be able to solve and survive a wide variety of problems, the least of which being what to eat for dinner.

Many of the settlers had been peasants in France, and the sudden introduction of meat, free for the killing, and the abundance of land was quite revolutionary for them. Their age old cooking methods, however, did not change dramatically in response. The French tradition involved two cauldrons, which would be used for long, slow cooking and boiling, and a deep cast-iron in which to fry or bake. Unfortunately, they did not fully appreciate or seek the art of creating flavor, and their dishes were reported to be “neither delicate in flavor, wholesome, nor appetizing” by French historian Paul Lacroix.

In the late eighteenth century, the Acadians were forced out of their homeland by the land hungry British, and by and large managed to find their way down to the one territory that would take them and provide a suitable living: La Louisiane. The climate was completely different, yet the Acadians learned to adapt and they began to make it work for them. Without ready access to flour or a climate suitable for the growing of wheat, they learned to grow maize from the Native American tribes around them and use cornmeal instead. They still boiled their meat, but now seafood such as shrimp and redfish and catfish were easily accessible, which added a whole new dimension to their diets. New fruits and vegetables, the introduction of rice, and the multitude of spices that became available all added their own flavor. As the territory became increasingly populated with colonists from France, Spain, the Caribbean, and America, the foods of the Acadians changed and adapted new techniques and flavors.

The new environment, the different foods available to them, and the multitude of cultural influences from other settlers in the state of Louisiana all contributed to the creation of the unique Cajun cuisine, as we know it today.