Posts Tagged ‘Liz Williams’

Editor’s Letter

September 21, 2010

It is with great excitement that I announce the death of this version of SoFAB Monthly.  The end of the SoFAB Monthly marks the birth of our new online magazine, OKRA.  The monthly newsletter has communicated museum news, exhibits, new artifacts, and events since we opened in 2008 (and actually before that).  That information, as well as information on the development of OKRA, will now be included in our weekly email blasts, edited by Kelsey Parris.  Recipes from the newsletter will be moved to OKRA, along with the new columns and articles that we are developing for it.  We hope you enjoy this change and we look forward to hearing your ideas, suggestions, and whatever else you have to say regarding both publications.

I am also excited that our Words in Food Symposium is upon us.  Liz Williams, our director, has done an outstanding job bringing this event together.  On October 1-3, 2010, James Carville, Jessica Harris, Todd Price, Elizabeth Pearce, and many more will present and sit on panels that explore the effects of disasters like the oil spill and the culinary exchanges that occur in these regions.  Attendance is limited, so there are plenty of opportunities to talk with speakers and others.  Additionally, an anonymous donor has made several scholarships available.  If you are interested in one of those, contact Liz Wiliams at 504-569-0405.  I’ll be there and I hope to see you.


Stephanie Jane Carter


Book Review: Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs

September 20, 2010

Review by Liz Williams

Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs, Penguin Press 2010

The sub-genre of food memoir that is the culinary journey has become popular of late.  Not a retrospective look at where life has brought the writer – not that journey – but rather more a travelogue of planned travel.  There are fine examples of such books, notably Coming Home to Eat by Gary Nabhan, but others have defined a goal and eaten their way to it in ways that seem forced and narcissistic. Andrew Beahrs has set a goal in Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens to eat through the regional American foods pined for by Samuel Clemens in A Tramp Abroad and other works.  It is an example of the former.

Twain is very much present in this book.  His very strong opinions about American food – especially as contrasted with European food – are appealing and obviously heartfelt.  Beahrs allows Twain’s writings and thoughts to be paramount, even as he recounts his own experiences with each of the foods he has chosen to explore.

Beahrs participates in each of the dishes either by cooking the food (as he does with the steak at breakfast or preparing raccoon in Gillett, Arkansas) or cultivating it (as he does the San Francisco Bay oysters).  He also explores the relationship of the food to Twain’s life, and the historical and cultural context of the dishes.

Beahrs makes you appreciate America’s table.  The bounty that we have lost to homogenization and commercialization is apparent.  It was becoming obvious to Twain as well.  We no longer have lives with the time to appreciate these delights daily.  But what a pleasure it is to explore them now and again.

Beahr isn’t just reading or researching the past – he is living it.  Beahr makes the connection to the past real and tangible by actually eating it.  He makes eating an integral part of the process of understanding the past.  It has made me ready to find a terrapin or a raccoon and begin cooking.

From the Director’s Desk

August 5, 2010

By Liz Williams

Liz Williams, SoFAB Director

August is going to be a terrific month at SoFAB.  Of course, it all starts with our spectacular Tailgating Party on August 8.  Besides the very special riffs on tailgating food that our chefs will produce, we can promise great music and fun entertainment.  This year the Muff-A-Lottas will be dancing for us.  In addition the Big Easy Roller Girls will bring their celebrity presence to the scene.  Even the Zephyrs mascot will make an appearance.

But the month also promises absinthe.  Besides  Damian Hevia’s beautiful photographs, Absinthe Visions, hanging in the photography gallery, we have a month’s worth of talks about the subject sponsored by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

And we are looking forward to a very ambitious and exciting symposium in early October.  With that symposium will be a new exhibit about the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Basin and its food exchanges.  With a serious nod at the Deep Horizon Oil Spill and its impact this symposium will present an exciting and important perspective on current culinary matters.  In addition our Clearinghouse makes it possible for all of the researchers on the cultural impact of the Deep Horizon Oil Spill to make connections to others as well as see what others are doing.

In spite of all of the activity in August, things will be a bit more quiet behind the scenes.  We have said good-bye to interns from Yale, Duke, Tulane and France.  They were so helpful, making great advances in the exhibits, organization and identity of SoFAB.  Thanks to all of them for all of their hard work.  And click on the French flag on our website and read about us in French!

I hope to see all of you on August 8.


Liz Williams is the Director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Book Review: Hungry Town

July 6, 2010

Review by Liz Williams of Hungry Town by Tom Fitzmorris

Although it is billed on the cover as “A Culinary History of New Orleans:  The City Where Food is Almost Everything” Tom Fitzmorris’ book is really an exploration of the last 40 years or so of the development of the modern New Orleans table.  I wasn’t disappointed to learn that the entire history of eating in New Orleans isn’t contained between those covers.  I have lived through the changes that he describes and enjoyed both his perspective and the nostalgic reminders.

Hungry Town is also a very personal book.  It tells the story of Fitzmorris’ development as a radio personality and food writer.  His genesis from person who just knows what he likes to someone who really knows about food and knows what he likes, is fascinating.  The close relationships that he has developed with chefs and restaurant owners, their influence on him and on his taste, and the influences of other things on his maturing palate are detailed with a friendly insouciance.  This isn’t namedropping.  Fitzmorris really grew up professionally with all of the well known names in his book.

Fitzmorris also relates his very important role in reporting on the return of restaurants to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  The website that he used to do that reporting is still going strong.  Fitzmorris has a wry sense of humor which serves him well when he writes about himself and his role in re-establishing the cultural identity of New Orleans.

If you are a follower of the New Orleans food scene, you should definitely read this book.  It is an easy and very pleasant read.  The bonus in the book is that there are recipes, including Fitzmorris’ own version of Oysters Rockefeller, which he says Bernard Guste, from the family that still owns Antoine’s, has called embarrassingly close to the original.

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

Director’s Desk: April Happenings

April 1, 2010

by Liz Williams

April is a really special month for us at SoFAB.  We have a wonderful event on Easter that allows us to Drink Well and Do Good.  And we are always ready to learn more about wine.  We are, as always, open to new materials for our archives, menus and artifacts for our collections.  And we will be celebrating a major event on April 17 with the symposium and reception in honor of the latest food issue of the Oxford American and the publication of Cornbread Nation 5.  We hope to see all of you there to participate in the discussion and meet authors and editors.

Our regular Saturday programming for April includes luminaries like Chef Gunter Preuss, a showing of Raised on Rice and Gravy, and Chef Carolyn Shelton.  There is another great activity for the Teen Club.  This time they will be meeting with Judy Walker at the Kitchen Witch.  And we have the opening of the exhibit curated by students from the University of Toronto Museum Studies program:  Acadian to Cajun.  This exhibit promises to link the food of Acadia to Cajun food.  What a great exhibit.

In addition to what we have to look forward to, we have the great new artifacts that we acquired during the month of March.  We are fortunate to have borrowed great artifacts from Galatoire’s Restaurant, acquired a stunning sugar sculpture, and continue to enjoy two great photography exhibits.

Finally the room where we listen to lectures, watch demonstrations and conduct children’s programming is shaping up to be a terrific place to see kitchenware – terrific stoves, thanks to the South Bend Stove Company and others, old countertop appliances and children’s kitchen toys.  We don’t want any place in the museum to be dead space.  All of it should celebrate foodways and food and drink culture.  And we also want each visit to the museum to be one full of new discovery.  We want you to keep coming back to see a new sign, a new artifact or a new exhibit.

Thanks so much to all of you for supporting us.  Please remember that what may be junk to you could be a treasure to us.  One that we can share with all the museum’s visitors.

Book Review: Cornbread Nation 5 – The Best of Southern Food Writing

April 1, 2010

Review by: Liz Williams

Edited by Fred W. Sauceman

General Editor, John T. Edge

UGA Press.  Published in association with the Southern Foodways Alliance at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi
Page count: 328 pp.
16 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9.25

Once again the University of Georgia Press has gathered together what it calls “the best of Southern food writing.”  This year that task fell to Fred W. Sauceman, an expert in the foodways of Appalachia, who has reached far and wide to not only spotlight good writing, but also good storytelling.  And he has also gathered writing that extols Southern foodways of all types:  the high and the low, the familiar and the obscure.  This book is a good read.

Sauceman asks whether Southern food is endangered or enduring.  I think that it is enduring and evolving, if this book is any indication.  Are some things lost?  Sure.  But there are new things being explored.

One thing that is lost is White Lily flour in Knoxville, written about with objective affection by Jack Neely.  An article by John Shelton Reed about the origins of the word barbecue is elucidating and provocative.  And Marcie Cohen Ferris’ defense of the study of Southern food is fierce.  Each of these pieces is a joy to read – and to look at.  It contains a terrific photo essay by Amy Evans about immigrants in the South.  And the pieces are short.  The book lends itself to a short read.  I like that it about it.  Sometimes there isn’t time to read for a long time.  This book gives you a satisfying short sip.

This book reeks of the smells of the South.  It makes your mouth water over the tastes of the South.  It satisfies your mind and your senses.  You will want it on your shelf to return to it many times.


Join the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Cornbread Nation 5, and the Oxford American for a symposium exploring food journalism and celebrating the release of Cornbread Nation 5 and the Food Issue of the Oxford American on April 17 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  Meet some of the featured writers in Cornbread Nation 5!  To learn more, click HERE!

Recipe: Liz’s Limoncello

March 17, 2010

2 large lemons
water as needed
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups vodka

Rinse lemons and pat dry. Thinly peel zest strips from lemons. Do not include whiter inner peel. Place zest strips into medium saucepan. Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into measuring cup. Remove any seeds. Measure juice and add enough water to bring to the 1 cup mark. Pour lemon juice mixture into saucepan with zest, add sugar and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Pour lemon mixture into aging container, add vodka and stir. Cap and age for 4 weeks in a cool, dark place.
After initial aging, pour through metal strainer into bowl to remove zest. Lemon peel may be saved for use in cooking, if desired. Pour liqueur back into cleaned aging container for an additional month of aging.
When aging is completed, strain liqueur through fine cloth (such as muslin) which is placed over a large bowl.  Repeat as needed.  A cloudy layer may form on top even after several strainings.  The cloudy portion may be poured off and reserved for cooking if desired. bottle and cap as desired. Liqueur is now ready to be used in cooking but is better for drinking after an additional 3 month’s aging.

Aging container can be :
Glass jars with lids
Ceramic crock with lid
Ceramic bowls, glass bottles, and/or decanters with eitehr screw-on lids/caps or cork/glass caps

Recipe: Café Brûlot Liqueur

March 17, 2010

Liz Williams recently gave a class on homemade liqueurs at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  This is her recipe for Café Brûlot Liqueur.  For more information on events at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, visit

2 1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee and chicory

2 cups sugar

Orange peel studded with cloves

1 cinnamon stick

Lemon peel

1 fifth brandy

While coffee is still hot, add sugar to dissolve. Add all ingredients except brandy.  When cool, add brandy.  Pour into aging container.  Cover.  Age for 3 weeks.  Strain.  Age for 3 more months.

Annual Letter from the SoFAB President

February 1, 2010

The traditional President’s letter at the beginning of each year is usually a look back at the previous year – reviewing accomplishments and activities.  We certainly could do this.  We had a remarkable year. 2009 allowed us to name the Louisiana Gallery after noted Creole chef, Leah Chase.  We were visited by many notable chefs such as Leah Chase, Susan Spicer, Mario Batali, John Folse, Emeril Lagasse, Tenney Flynn, Adolpho Garcia, Frank Davis, Andrea Apuzzo, Poppy Tooker, and scholars such as Anthony Stanonis, Paul Freedman, Lawrence Powell, and writers such as John T. Edge, Sara Roahen, Kit Wohl, Betty Fussell, Judy Walker, Ian McNulty, and artists and photographers such as Rise Ochsner, David Gallent, Natalie Root, Jackson Hill, and Matt Noel and all of the distinguished and accomplished members of our Board of Directors.  We were also visited by the Lee Brothers.  We also hosted school children, the elderly, wonderful interns and interested visitors.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. It is also a time to look ahead to 2010.  We have some exciting things planned – a fun king cake exhibit in February, from Acadian to Cajun in March, a special celebration in April with the Oxford American and Cornbread Nation 5, a food and music festival in Dijon, France in July, a symposium in late September, our annual gala, and so many more things.  As we speed toward the completion of our second year it begins to feel like we are becoming the institution that we had all imagined and that is very satisfying.  It is also a frightening.  Thanks to all of you who took a leap of faith to support us when we were an idea.  Thanks to all who are supporting us today.  We welcome your ideas, your artifacts, your books and menus. Join us on our journey.