Posts Tagged ‘Southern Food and Beverage Museum’

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.

Cheers,

Stephanie Jane Carter

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Shadden’s BBQ Sauce

September 21, 2010

Shadden’s BBQ Sauce

  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 small onions (chopped very fine)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ bottle A-1 Sauce
  • ¾ bottle ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoons Tabasco
  • ¼ lemon (grated; including rind)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (for added heat)

— Sauté onion in butter and oil until tender

— Add other ingredients, mix well and cook for 30-45 minutes.

(SHADDEN’S BARBECUE, MARVELL, AR; from High Cotton Cookin)

Shadden’s BBQ may have closed, but its bullet-hole studded sign lives on in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  Click here to read more…

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.  http://southernfood.org/sofab/explore/events/2010-words-and-food-symposium/

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.

Recipe: Watermelon Rum Punch

September 20, 2010

Stephanie Jane Carter

The blue, dented pick-up truck that parks in the shade of the oak trees on Carollton Avenue is the kind of vehicle that makes me smile.  With a hand-painted sign announcing its wares, watermelons filled the bed of the truck this week.  While the weather has started to give us a break, it is still hot in New Orleans and watermelons are still the answer for a couple more weeks.  Here is a cocktail to celebrate the end of summer.

photo by Stephanie Jane Carter

Watermelon Rum Punch

Makes one cocktail

1 cup red seedless watermelon, cubed

2 ounces white rum

1 tablespoon agave nectar

juice of 1 and a half limes (about 3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon chopped mint

crushed ice

Chile Lime Salt (optional)

Combine the cubed watermelon, rum, agave nectar, and lime juice in a blender (or in a bowl if using an emmersion blender).  Puree until the mixture is smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Set aside.  If desired, coat the lip of a glass with the chile lime salt by rubbing the lip with a damp towel and dipping the lip into the salt.  Fill the glass with ice.  Add watermelon mixture and chopped mint.  Stir well.

Tethered Knives and the Joys of Menu-Collecting

August 6, 2010

photo courtesy of One Flew South

by Stephanie Jane Carter

After settling on the Cole Porter: Day as the perfect layover libation, I grasped the menu for One Flew South and asked, “May I keep it?”  A few things happened in between and then the manager was suggesting to that the bartender show me his knife, which turned out to be tethered to the bar by a rope that I only imagined people would use if they weren’t kidding around.

One Flew South is a restaurant in the Atlanta Airport that is worth a long layover, and I used my dining time to expand the menu collection at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.  Formally known as the Menu Project, it is quickly becoming recognized as the only large-scale collection like this.  The collection comprises menus from all over the American South (the Chinese delivery place down the street, the menus you collected on your honeymoon to Charleston in the 1950s, the restaurants in the Atlanta Airport, famous and not famous restaurants, restaurants that still exist and those that do not, and…).  Additionally, the collection comprises those restaurants outside of the American South that purport to be Southern.  For example, visiting Rochester, New York, I found a Louisiana-inspired menu that had to substitute available ingredients for those commonly used in common Louisiana dishes such as gumbo.  A “gumbo” of clams and Chorizo over “Southwestern rice” is one example.   The Southern Food and Beverage Museum encourages  everyone (yes, you)  to collect menus for the project.

The Menu Project preserves ephemeral items that reflect trends in food, beverage, culture, language, and many other topics.  A World War II era menu from Galatoire’s Restaurant in New Orleans reminds us of rationing during that era – the menu reminds guests that they may only have one pat of butter for their entire meal.  If you’ve been to this restaurant, you will most likely find this rule inconceivable.  One pat of butter at Galatoire’s?  Chills… Another particularly old Galatoire’s menu betrays secrets, but not too many,  of a society that met there.  The menu was obviously created especially for what it clearly states as “secret sessions.”  There are enigmatic rules, such as “Particularly short men should open a window.”  Language on these older menus was much more formal than newer ones.

Newer menus reveal a trend toward using  nouns like parsley and rosemary  as verbs  (they are NOT) .  For example, “parsleyed potatoes” and “rosemaried lamb.”  How does one rosemary a lamb?  We can also see that the trend never extended to certain herbs – thymed soup just never happened.  In addition to more relaxed language, the menus demonstrate a changing aesthetic, advances in technology, shifts in populations, and so many other important topics.

Besides that, participating in the Menu Project can be fun.  Usually people are excited to share their restaurant’s menu once they know about the Menu Project.  Sometimes, they will display the kind of enthusiasm I encountered at One Flew South, eagerly sharing  details about the restaurant, the little things that no one else knows, and the things they are particularly proud of.  SO, the tethered knife… To have a restaurant in an airport in a terminal (read passed security) is a bit if a trial.  The knives have to be checked and recorded.  Once security clears them for use in the restaurant, they must remain tethered at all times.  A HUGE fine is incurred if a knife is found not to be tethered.  This means that chefs can’t bring their own knives in with them each day.  When cutting, chefs cannot move beyond the radius of the tethered knife.  The bartender who showed me his knife can only cut lemons and limes in that one spot.  And for this bit of knowledge, I raise my Cole Porter:Day to the Menu Project.

…..

Stephanie Jane Carter is a writer and editor at SoFAB.  To learn more about the Menu Project, visit the website, http://www.southernfood.org

Recipe: Avocado Vichyssoise

August 6, 2010
Avocado Vichyssoise

Avocado Vichyssoise

by Stephanie Jane Carter

“But in summer, when the soup seemed to be too hot, we asked for milk for which to cool it.  Many years later, it was this inspiration to make the soup which I have named Creme Vichyssoise.” (Louis Diat 1885-1957)

When the French-born chef, Louis Diat, was the chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York, he remembered a pureed potato soup served to him by his mother in his hometown, a village near Vichy in France.  Served hot, he often asked for milk to cool the soup.  From this concept, Diat created one of our most well-known soups, cold and refreshing Vichyssoise.

In this version, we have added another item that says summer to us, the avocado.  We find the flavor refreshing and surprising and we hope you do too.

Avocado Vichyssoise

Serves 6

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced*

1/8 cup unsalted butter

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

6 cups water

1 bouquet garni (2-3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf)

Salt, to taste

3 medium avocados, peeled and pitted

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup Creme Fraiche

1/4 cup chopped chives

1.  Sweat the leeks in the butter and a pinch of salt.  Allow them to soften without developing color.

2.  Add the potatoes and the water and another sprinkling of salt.

3.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

4.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

5.  Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup.

6.  Let soup chill thoroughly.

7.  Add the avocados to the soup and puree until smooth.

8.  Just before serving, add the lime juice and stir to incorporate.

9.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.

*Normally, with a vichyssoise, one would only use the white parts of the leeks so that the soup could remain white.  However, this is not necessary in this version since the end product is green due to the addition of the avocados.

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: The Republic of Barbecue

August 5, 2010

Review by Jonathan Estuart

Image courtesy of University of Texas Press.

With all this oil spill/disaster/criminal neglect business going on, it’s depressing to see the seafood staples of Louisiana cuisine go scarce. Maybe that is why it’s so comforting to see another southern mainstay, the Texas barbecue, get so much love in Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (By Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, UT Press, 2009).

Republic of Barbecue is not a cookbook. Instead, it’s a celebration — something New Orleanians know entirely too well — of the religion surrounding Texans and their meats. Starting in Austin, the book takes author Elizabeth Engelhardt and her team of University of Texas students on what looks to be the most delicious adventure across Central Texas. There aren’t many recipes in here, since most of the foods fall under the category of ancient family secrets. Instead, it’s a collection of essays and stories: the former muses on all the traditions surrounding Texas barbeculture and the latter offer a close look at the inner workings of the small business barbecue masters. From an essay on the modern attempts at “green” environmentally-friendly barbecue to the everyday schedule of a typical pit master, this book satisfies the mind and the stomach of anyone who yearns for a good brisket and maybe a side of beans. If anything else, Republic of Barbecue is a fantastic roadmap of barbecue country and the many must see dives and restaurants that any foodie interested in the Texas’ religion of meats should stop at.

……

Jonathan Estuart is a Tulane student, the Views Editor of the Tulane Hullabaloo, and a SoFAB summer intern.

Absinthe Minded Events at SoFAB

July 6, 2010

SoFAB Celebrates the Green Fairy During August

BY Chris Smith

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has created a series of events in August that celebrate one of the most misunderstood potables of all time.

Absinthe Minded is an event that includes lectures about absinthe, tastings, a photo exhibit and an artifact exhibit. It is sponsored by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Absinthe is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including Artemisia absinthium, also known as wormwood. Traditionally, it has a natural green color but it can also appear as colorless. Historically, it is referred to as “la fee verte,” or the Green Fairy.

Absinthe is a spirit – not a liqueur which is bottled and has sugar added to it. Absinthe is unusual in that it is bottled at a high proof and usually is diluted with water or other liquids when consumed.

Absinthe has been labeled as a dangerous mind-altering drug because of the presence of the chemical thujone. It was banned in the United States and in most European countries by 1915. It was recently legalized in this country after evidence showed that it was no more dangerous than ordinary spirits.

Many absinthe experts believe that the spirit was banned because it was popular among the bohemian culture of artists and writers, including Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley.

The revival absinthe began in the 1990s and today, more than 200 brands of absinthe are produced.

The SoFAB absinthe celebration includes the following events.

Absinthe Visions: The Photography of Damian Hevia

Opens Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seminar – The History of Absinthe

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ted Breaux, a native New Orleanian, is the person credited with bringing the American ban on absinthe to an end. He will tell how he did this, and he will discuss the history of the Green Fairy.

Seminar – The History of Herbsaint

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jay Hendrickson is an expert on Herbsaint, the main substitute for absinthe that continues to be produced in New Orleans to this day. He will explain all things Herbsaint and how the history of the spirit is linked to the Crescent City. He also will discuss Herbsaint as it relates to the history of absinthe.

Seminar – Absinthe in Art and Literature

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 21, 2010

Todd Price, the author of a weekly Times Picayune alcohol column, discusses the cultural significance of absinthe and how it ties New Orleans not just to France but also to other European countries. He will examine absinthe as it is portrayed in art and literature, and how absinthe’s mystery transferred to the new continent.

Seminar – The Long Legal History of the Green Fairy

2-4 p.m., Saturday, August 28, 2010

Liz Williams, a native New Orleanian and founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, is a lawyer who writes about the legal aspects of food, reflecting culture, policy and economics. She is currently working on a book about obesity lawsuits and other food-related litigation in the U.S. She will discuss the legal history of absinthe, how it became banned, and how the ban was eventually lifted.

Each lecture will be followed by an absinthe tasting/demonstration. All attendees must be of legal drinking age.

Each lecture is $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers.

For more information, contact the museum at 504-569-0405.