Podcast

Gravy

Gravy is a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance that tells new and complicated stories about the changing American South.

Episodes

  • A Table for All?

    Feb 21 2019

    At the FARM Café in Boone, North Carolina, diners can pay $10 for meal—or they can pay nothing. The restaurant, one of dozens of its kind, follows a pay-what-you-can model. Guests can dine regardless of their finances. It's an attempt to address food insecurity. While some have dismissed these restaurants as limited-scale, feel-good attempts to address serious hunger issues, the cafés do foster a sense of community.  Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode. 

  • Pop-Up Identity

    Feb 21 2019

    Chefs stage pop-up dinners to tell stories, many of them focused on identity. Whether's it's to highlight African American chefs, develop a platform for Indian American chefs in the South, or focus on Appalachia's food history, the dinners weave identity into the courses.  For chefs, pop-up dinners are opportunities to network and build camaraderie. For diners, they have the potential to educate. Ultimately, these events aim to shift identity narratives.  This episode was reported and produced b...more

  • Home-Cooked Expectations

    Feb 21 2019

    In the United States, home cooked meals with the family are revered almost to the point of fetishization. Dinners are seen as moral imperatives for happy, healthy families. Women, in particular mothers, have been tasked with serving up meals rich with meaning. Yet, as authors Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott write in Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won't Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It, many American women are not happy with their cooking lives. Due to economics ...more

  • Bottled Myth

    Feb 21 2019

    Legal moonshine—funny as that sounds—has exploded in the South. Instead of on creek banks, it's now produced in gleaming distilleries. But it's the same old stuff: strong, unaged liquor. To sell it, the story is just as important as the hooch. Family-owned distilleries mine their histories to stand out in a market crowded by hillbilly nostalgia.  Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode. 

  • A New Recipe for Charlotte

    Feb 21 2019

    Charlotte, North Carolina, has long been a banking town. These days, its dining scene is booming as well. As the city works to rebrand itself as a destination for food and drink, it has to choose which stories to tell in order to sell the place. In highlighting local, chef-driven restaurants, what is gained...and what's lost?  Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode. 

  • Y'all Have Chilaquiles?

    Dec 20 2018

    With its vibrant take on Mexican breakfast, Con Huevos restaurant is bringing Louisville, Kentucky, brand-new answers to the question of what to eat for breakfast. Answers like tortas, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and poached eggs with chipotle gravy. Con Huevos, which opened in 2015, has quickly become one of the most popular breakfast spots in Louisville. On this episode of Gravy, reporter-producer Parker Hobson bellies up to the counter to find out why, to meet the Mexican-Americans that ma...more

  • Smoking on the South Side

    Dec 06 2018

    Barbecue purists from the Carolinas to Texas might balk at the notion that Chicago, Illinois, has a barbecue tradition all its own. But owing to the Great Migration, and to a special piece of equipment called the aquarium smoker, reporter-producer Ambriehl Crutchfield finds that Chicago barbecue has evolved into a style unto itself. 

  • Vinegar & Char

    Nov 15 2018

    Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance, edited by poet Sandra Beasley, is SFA's latest book, available now from University of Georgia Press.  In this special episode, you'll hear half a dozen of the poems in the collection, read by their authors.  This is just a taste of the fifty-plus poems collected in the volume. Find the collection wherever you buy books.   

  • Visible Yam

    Nov 01 2018

    “For me, the hallmark of food in literature, raised to the level of art, is food interacting with character. Food as character. Food doing stuff. Food being stuff. Just as it happens with our flesh and blood, our mouths and our bellies and our memories. The best writers, the better writers, know that food is identity. Food is alive. Food is us.” Randall Kenan first delivered this talk at the 2018 Southern Foodways Symposium on food and literature in Oxford, Mississippi. A professor of creative w...more

  • The Swamp Witches

    Oct 18 2018

    The Swamp Witches, as this group of friends call themselves, have been duck hunting together for nearly 20 years. Men are often surprised to stumble upon a half-dozen women—not in the company of fathers or husbands or brothers—out hunting. In this episode of Gravy, reporter-producer Dana Bialek goes hunting with the Swamp Witches and explores the rise in women hunters, how hunter recruitment is connected to the conservation of waterfowl habitat, and what it means to celebrate hunted game around ...more

  • Comfort Food

    Aug 09 2018

    This week, we bring you Gravy's first foray into fiction. It's a story of macaroni and cheese and maternal love, set in the fictional Canard County, Kentucky.  Robert Gipe is the author of the novels Trampoline and Weedeater. He teaches and coordinates the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community College.  This is the last episode of our summer season. After a short hiatus, Gravy will return with new episodes in the fall. 

  • Agave Diplomacy

    Jul 26 2018

    Bars mean different things to different people. For some, they are places to find community and discover new ingredients and flavors. They can serve as a gateway for cultural understanding. A group of bar operators in Houston, Texas, use their establishments as vehicles to foster conversation and educate their guests about our neighbors to the south in Mexico. Sean Beck, Bobby Heugel, and Alba Huerta use agave spirits to bridge gaps in divided times. Producer Shanna Farrell explores how their wo...more

  • What Is Latino Enough?

    Jul 12 2018

    Mine is a slightly funky ancestry: a Colombian mother, a Cuban father, a combination that leads many Latinos to say, “¡Que mezcla tan rara!” But even in saying the phrase myself, it’s clear that neither tongue works comfortably for me. My Spanish is passable, sure, but it is also glaringly self-conscious, mainly because it is a first language that began to fade during a boyhood in the South, despite my parents’ best efforts to preserve it. The fact that it evolved from a first language to a seco...more

  • Catfish Dream

    Jun 28 2018

    When he was shut out of the industry during the 1980s catfish boom, Scott turned 160 acres of arable farmland into catfish ponds and built a processing plant of concrete and stainless steel atop the bones of an old tractor shed. In doing so, he marched into history. Scott used food as a weapon and a megaphone: feeding civil rights workers, employing dozens of his friends and neighbors, joining a class action suit against the federal government, and providing an example of perseverance for future...more

  • The Price of Cheap Milk

    Jun 14 2018

    When we pour a glass of milk, most of us don’t consider the economics that brought that milk from a cow to our kitchen. Reporter-producer Allison Salerno visited two women, friends and neighbors in southeast Georgia, who both grew up and spent their working lives on dairy farms. One woman watched this spring as auctioneers sold her family's cows and farm equipment. The other dairy woman has changed her business model to stay afloat. Their way of life is rapidly disappearing in Georgia and throug...more

  • Native Strangers of the South

    May 31 2018

    Writer Naben Ruthnum compares outsiders' expectations and assumptions about the South Asian diaspora to those about the American South.  This week's episode is adapted from a lecture Ruthnum gave at SFA's Taste of the South at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. 

  • Where Kentucky Meets Somalia

    May 17 2018

    Many Muslims in the United States feel the stings of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment on a daily basis. For them, safe public spaces are essential. As many lament the death of the American mall, the International Mall on 8th and York Streets in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, provides a lifeline to thousands of resettled refugees from Somalia. But this mall is more than a place to buy food, or a place where teenagers hang out. From playing dominoes, to watching soccer to catching up with...more

  • A Message and a Verse

    Apr 19 2018

    Gravy listeners, we invite you to join us in Lexington, Kentucky, June 21–23, for our annual SFA Summer Symposium. Today, listen to Kentucky poet—and Summer Symposium presenter—Rebecca Gayle Howell reading her poem "What Wealth Is."  Visit southernfoodways.org to learn more about the Summer Symposium and to purchase tickets.  Tune in on May 17 when we return from hiatus with a new episode. 

  • Subterranean Chop Suey

    Mar 22 2018

    In the early 20th century, an Arkansan real estate developer named C.A. Linebarger had an idea. American was in the throes of the Great Depression, and the worst drought in recorded history gripped the heartland. Times were tough. But like many folks on the Ozark Plateau, Linebarger owned a cave. And like many folks with caves in their possession during Prohibition, he was going to make good with it. Thus, the Wonderland Underground Nightclub came to be. It wasn’t uncommon to find booze or danci...more

  • Hungry in the Mississippi Delta

    Mar 08 2018

    While civil rights activists worked in Mississippi in 1964, they encountered a poverty they could never have imagined. People were hungry, starving to death from malnutrition, particularly in the Mississippi Delta. Doctors and medical professionals, including Dr. Jack Geiger, joined together to form the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Geiger founded a community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he and his medical team wrote prescriptions for food, started a farm cooperative, ta...more

  • Hostesses of the Movement

    Feb 22 2018

    The hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement: They were school teachers, church ladies, and club women. Their subtle contributions played a vital role in the change that was to come. While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, providing home cooked meals, places to rest, and safe rooms for plotting att...more

  • Dispatch from Duplin County

    Feb 08 2018

    By the end of the twentieth century, hog farming had replaced tobacco as the backbone of eastern North Carolina's economy. Today, the hog industry is a source of both contention and pride in the area. In rural Duplin County, the home of Smithfield Foods, hogs outnumber people 40 to 1. Open-air lagoons store massive amounts of hog waste, which is then sprayed over the surrounding fields as fertilizer. For decades, residents have claimed that these waste management practices cause a host of health...more

  • Home with the Armadillo: The Austin Sound, with a Side of Nachos

    Jan 25 2018

    Austin, Texas, calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World. Back in the 1970s, country music mixed with rock-and-roll to create the "Austin sound." Its cradle was the Armadillo World Headquarters, where the so-called hippies and rednecks came together over cold beer, cheap nachos, and cosmic cowboy sounds. Reporter Ryan Katz looks at the history of the Dillo and its legacy in Austin today.

  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Las Pulgas of New Orleans

    Jan 11 2018

    When people think of New Orleans food, jambalayas, gumbos, and beignets usually come to mind. But with the arrival of thousands of Central American and Mexican immigrants after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Latin foods are increasingly present across the city…if you look in the right places. In 2011, Dix Jazz Market, part of a vending space colloquially called La Pulga, opened in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. With over sixty individual vendors and booths, you can find anything from knock...more

  • Baptism by Biryani

    Dec 28 2017

    If you want to see the American future, visit Greater Houston, the nation's most diverse major metropolitan area and home to the South's biggest city. Since the 1982 collapse of the oil boom, the city's sprawling and overbuilt subdivisions have attracted newcomers, and their food traditions, from around the world. Reporter Barry Yeoman spent time with one of those families—and particularly with John Marthand, an immigrant from Hyderabad, India, and his 14-year-old, U.S.-born son, Joshua. The Ma...more

  • A Taste of Place: Whiskey as Food

    Dec 14 2017

    When most people sit down to enjoy a pour of whiskey, they aren't thinking about where the grain that it is made with comes from, nor do they think much about how it's produced agriculturally. Though spirits are distilled from wheat, potatoes, rice, and even quinoa, many don’t view the end result as an agricultural product. The discussion about composition of whiskey’s mashbill is usually where the conversation about the grain begins and ends, creating a disconnect between the way in which we pe...more

  • A Most Civil Union: from Reconstruction to Restaurateur

    Nov 30 2017

    Brunswick, Georgia's The Farmer & The Larder restaurant is forward-facing with its menu, while paying homage to an agricultural legacy that reaches back to days of Reconstruction. Rose Reid reports the story of self-described "CheFarmer" Matthew Raiford's family connection to the land, and how he and his partner, Jovan Sage, navigate a dual venture on the Georgia coast.   Please note: The Farmer & The Larder's hours have changed since this story was reported. For details, please visit the resta...more

  • Stories from the Hem of my Mother's Apron

    Nov 16 2017

    For Hannah Drake, it all started with a trip to Dakar, Senegal. The author, poet, mother, and native Kentuckian was transformed by the communal experience of simply preparing and eating food with other women. So occasionally she gathers a group of women for dinner. All the women have to do is bring a dish, along with their mother or sister. The goal: To cook and eat a meal with loved ones, and share stories and recipes. Reporter and producer Roxanne Scott brings us today's story.  

  • Of Hunger and Humanity: Resilience on the Texas Coast

    Nov 02 2017

    When Hurricane Harvey unleashed 30 trillion gallons of rain on Texas last summer, thousands of evacuees and first responders needed to be fed. Restaurants and commercial kitchens were turned into relief operations, and residents hauled their grills to rescue staging grounds. The response was extraordinary. Reporting this episode of Gravy, Barry Yeoman followed two Texans-chef Bryan Caswell and his wife and business partner Jennifer Caswell-as they coordinated a food caravan from their Houston r...more

  • The Wise Family at Work: A Sound Portrait

    Oct 19 2017

    Historically, African Americans played a central role in the nation’s agriculture system, and, through their labor and know-how on farms and plantations, in the very building of the American economy – particularly in the South. Of course, black people did much of that work in bondage, over more than two hundred years, followed by a century of sharecropping and tenant farming. Remarkably, in the early 20th century, black families owned 15 million acres, one-seventh of the nation’s farmland. Today...more

  • Booze Legends

    Oct 05 2017

    Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar is accepted, even expected. And storytelling is a big part of that engagement. But when it comes to origin stories behind cocktails, Wayne Curtis has noticed a shift in focus over the last ten years. Hand in hand with the recent cocktail revival and the increased professionalization of bartending, an obsession with fact over fancy has emerged. “I started hearing a phrase in bars that I don’t think had ever been uttered before inside a bar: ‘Wha...more

  • Kimchi and Cornbread

    Sep 21 2017

    When you sit down for a meat and three in Montgomery, Alabama, say at the Davis Café, you choose from the menu and you get one plate all for you, but at a Korean table in Montgomery – or anywhere – your plates are all shared. And there are many of them. Meat and six or seven, you might say.   Since the Hyundai plant opened in Montgomery in 2005, Koreans have been moving there, some for work at the plant, but others because they see the growing community of Koreans and Korean businesses in this s...more

  • Shad Stories: The Ebb and Flow of the Founding Fish

    Sep 07 2017

    The American shad were once as plentiful in the water along the east coast as the buffalo were in the west. But after decades of overfishing and pollution, their numbers plummeted and Virginia outlawed commercial fishing of shad in the 1970s. Now, shad are returning to the Chesapeake Bay, due in part to scientists and waterman who have worked on a restoration project for the fish over the last twenty years. Shad are a keystone in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, a food source for animals as varied ...more

  • Pie by Another Name: The Burekas of Or Ve Shalom

    Aug 24 2017

    Every Tuesday a group of women gets together at Or Ve Shalom Synagogue in Atlanta to bake hundreds of savory hand-held pies. They're called burekas, from the Turkish word Burek, which means pie. Sephardic Jews trace their heritage to the countries around the Mediterranean including Turkey and medieval Spain; the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 forced Sephardic Jews to leave Spain and settle in other countries. The weekly ritual of baking Burekas at the Or Ve Shalom Synagogue is a testament to the pr...more

  • Hostesses of the Movement

    Aug 10 2017

    This week’s Gravy podcast looks at hostesses of the Civil Rights Movement. They were school teachers, church ladies and club women who were not direct in their assault of segregation, but nonetheless played a vital role in the change that was to come. While others hit the streets, marching, singing protest songs, and risking arrest, these women made their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in their kitchens. They opened their homes to the architects and strategists of the Movement, provi...more

  • The Mala Project: Chinese Flavors, Tennessee Family

    Jul 27 2017

    What happens when a white family in the American South adopts an 11-year-old Chinese girl who’s never eaten a meal other than Chinese in her entire life and has no intention of starting now? Fear and frustration on all sides give way to a solution in this fiery story of creating a family from strangers by cooking Sichuan food. Fongchong steers clear of traditional American food both inside and outside her new home, but eventually finds her place in the New Nashville by befriending other immigran...more

  • Bluegrass Tacos

    Jul 13 2017

    In the northwestern part of Lexington, Kentucky, just inside the city’s loop road, there is a little bit of Mexico. In all directions, there are signs in Spanish – a bakery, a restaurant, a grocery store, a daycare, a church. And just down the road more of the same, including a bilingual public library. But at the crux of any diaspora is food – the familiar flavor of the old home mixing with a new one – tacos, in this case. And Lexington, Kentucky is expressing just that.   At Tortilleria and Ta...more

  • Separation of Church and Coffee

    Jun 29 2017

    How many of us would be lost without our regular coffeeshop? In the age of wifi and telecommuting, cafes have become more than purveyors of lattes and cappuccinos. They’re the office, the community hub, and the conference room as much as the provider of our caffeine fix. And now—are they also a surrogate for the church? In cities and towns across the South, an increasing number of the folks offering up latte art and high-end pourovers are devout Christians. Is it an unlikely and subtle tool for ...more

  • Going Whole Hog in Israel

    Jun 15 2017

    When you think about Israeli cuisine there are a few things that may come to mind; hummus or shawarma, shakshuka and baba ganoush. What probably doesn’t come to mind is pork. After all, Israel is the self-proclaimed home for Jews in the Middle East. A large portion of the population follows kosher law, which outlaws pork, shellfish, and mixtures of meat and milk.   On this episode of Gravy we go global to explore the spread of a prolific Southern food to an unlikely place: pork barbecue in the I...more

  • How A Texas Vine Saved European Wine

    May 31 2017

    Thanks to Texan viticulturist Thomas Volney Munson, you should probably think of Texas when you think of that French wine you're drinking. During an agricultural crisis in France in the late 1800's, his tough grafted Texan vines saved the industry from total collapse. And many of the vines in Europe are still growing strong from that rootstock today. This week's episode tells this story of T.V. Munson and how his obsession with grape vines saved old world wine.  

  • Farmer's Blues

    May 18 2017

    Imagine you’re a young person wanting to be a farmer. If you don’t inherit land from your family, the challenges of finding and affording farmland might make your dream a non-starter. The average farmer in the United States is in her late 50s, and much of this country’s farmland is at risk of development or buy-out for intensive monoculture. In this episode of Gravy, Caroline Leland explores these challenges along with some of the keen individuals and organizations working to overcome them.

  • Halal Memphis

    May 04 2017

    Chicken shawarma might not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of Memphis. This episode of Gravy takes us inside Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill to meet Mahmoud al-Hazaz, who made his home in the U.S. South after being forced to leave his native Syria. Syria shares borders with Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. Those countries also share a history and—equally important for us—they share a larder. By peeling back the layers on Mahmoud’s story, producer Rose Reid get a pictur...more

  • Booze Legends

    Apr 19 2017

    Striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar is accepted, even expected. And storytelling is a big part of that engagement. But when it comes to origin stories behind cocktails, Wayne Curtis has noticed a shift in focus over the last ten years. Hand in hand with the recent cocktail revival and the increased professionalization of bartending, an obsession with fact over fancy has emerged. “I started hearing a phrase in bars that I don’t think had ever been uttered before inside a bar: ‘Wha...more

  • Corned Beef Sandwiches in the Delta

    Apr 06 2017

    It’s the season for communal meals, like Easter dinners and Passover Seders. In the Mississippi Delta town of Greenville, members of the Hebrew Union Congregation synagogue have been hosting a community meal on the past 130 years. It brings together hundreds of Jews and gentiles from all over the Delta to share a corned beef on rye.  In the past twenty years, Greenville’s once thriving Jewish population has dwindled to just a few dozen, and there wasn’t enough synagogue members to make the 1,500...more

  • The Chili Powder Cheat: A Tex-Mex Story

    Mar 22 2017

      Texas: the land of BBQ, breakfast tacos…and of course Tex-Mex. But what if we told you Tex-Mex wasn’t created by a Texan or Mexican, but a German immigrant? On this episode of Gravy, we tell you the story of William Gebhardt, the inventor of chili powder. Gebhardt loved the chili con carne of the streetfood sold in the plazas of San Antonio. He adapted it back at his café, but quickly ran into a problem: chili peppers proved expensive and difficult to import. So he devised a solution. Gebhardt...more

  • Southern Food Gets Christopher Columbus-ed

    Mar 09 2017

    So much of our national culture—food, music, dance—has come from the South. Where would American dance be without Jane Brown? Where would American music be without Robert Johnson, the Delta blues player? Where would American modern food be now if you didn't have grits and fried chicken and biscuits on every menu around the country, from fine dining restaurants to fast food establishments? But what happens if these cultural expressions become so generic as to no longer be associated with anywhere...more

  • Korean BBQ in Coolsville: A Memphis Report

    Feb 23 2017

    What happens when Korean barbecue goes from suburban strip malls to restaurant rows in cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis? On the latest Gravy, new host (and old SFA director) John T Edge reports from DWJ Korean BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, where kalbi (grilled beef short ribs) is the money dish. Looking back to his grad school days, when he wrote a paper about the Italian-inspired Memphis dishes barbecue pizza and barbecue spaghetti, Edge argues that this traditional-seeming barbecue t...more

  • Reclaiming Native Ground

    Feb 09 2017

    For centuries, the bayous and lowlands of coastal Louisiana have fed the Point-au-Chien Indian Tribe. From cattle to crabs, oranges to okra, the fertile landscape provided almost everything they needed to eat. But now, the land is disappearing,  and the Point-au-Chien are joining together with other tribes to figure out what to do next. In this episode of Gravy, Barry Yeoman reports on the rich food traditions of tribes in South Louisiana, the threat to them posed by coastal land loss, and inter...more

  • Ironies and Onion Rings: The Layered Story of the Vidalia Onion

    Jan 26 2017

    If you know and love the Vidalia onion—an onion sweet enough, its fans say, to eat like an apple—you likely also know it as a product of Georgia, as proudly claimed as the peach. But the story of the Vidalia’s popularity is far more complex than just one of a local onion made good. In this episode of Gravy: an onion’s success story, born of clever marketing, government wrangling, technological innovation and global trade.

  • Hungry in the Mississippi Delta

    Jan 12 2017

    While civil rights activists worked in Mississippi in 1964, they encountered a poverty they could never have imagined. People were hungry, starving to death from malnutrition, particularly in the Mississippi Delta. Doctors and medical professionals, including Dr. Jack Geiger, joined together to form the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Geiger founded a community health center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he and his medical team wrote prescriptions for food, started a farm cooperative, ta...more

  • ENCORE: The Emotional Life of Eating

    Dec 29 2016

    Many of the stories we hear and tell about food are positive—food’s power to nourish, to comfort, to bring people together. But it also has the potential to cause shame, fear, disgust and a whole host of other uncomfortable emotions. Today on Gravy: personal stories around food that aren’t so sweet. These are the kinds of stories Francis Lam wanted to explore for a presentation he gave at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual Symposium. Francis is an editor at large at Clarkson Potter Publishe...more

  • A Tale of Two Krauts

    Dec 15 2016

    Sarah Reynolds takes us into the kitchens of Louise Frazier and Sandor Katz to learn how fermenting vegetables has helped them both carry on through illness and aging. Frazier learned to ferment from her mother in the 1920s, while Katz studied the the practice after moving to rural Tennessee from New York City.

  • The Southern Story of Coca Cola (Gravy Ep. 51)

    Dec 01 2016

    You might think of Coca Cola as an iconic American brand… and you’d be right. But: it was born in the South. How did Coke’s Atlanta birthplace shape what the soft drink became? And how has Coke shaped the South? It’s a story that includes many surprising twists turns, from Civil War wounds to temperance movements, racist fears to philanthropy, small town soda jerks to Peruvian coca farmers.  

  • Beyond the Golden Leaf (Gravy Ep. 50)

    Nov 17 2016

    For generations, farmers in western North Carolina have relied on tobacco as a core crop, their lifeblood. It was more than just income, though: tobacco supplied these families with a cultural backbone, a way of ordering their year—and their meals. So: what’s happening to that culture as the tobacco industry has changed? In this episode of Gravy, radio producer Jen Nathan Orris tells the story of two farmers following different paths, and how food is part of the solution for each.

  • Maize Migrations (Gravy Ep. 49)

    Nov 03 2016

    Corn is a ubiquitous part of Southern food—from bread to whiskey. But how did it get to be that way? In this episode of Gravy, we go on a hunt for the origins of corn, and how it came to be so fully embedded in the South. Stephen Satterfield is a fifth generation Atlantan who can trace his ancestors back to the plantations on which they were enslaved. His family has been eating corn for more than a century. In this story, Stephen takes us along in his quest for corn’s prehistory. On the way, he ...more

  • Transplanted Traditions: From Southeast Asia to North Carolina (Gravy Ep. 48)

    Oct 20 2016

    In Chapel Hill, there’s a farm that’s much more than just a spot to grow food: it’s a gathering place for refugees, including a group of Karen teenagers from Burma. In this episode of Gravy, those teens report on the farm, their lives, and the ups and downs of trying to be both Karen and American. Radio producer Alix Blair spent a week teaching Ree Ree Wei, Hla Win Tway, Talar Hso, Aw Kaw Joon, Eh Paw (who goes by Tatha), Kawla Htee, and Hickrihay Htee about the basics of radio recording. She se...more

  • What Is White Trash Cooking? (Gravy ep. 47)

    Oct 06 2016

    In 1986, Ernest Matthew Mickler of Palm Valley, Florida, published White Trash Cooking. It was a loving ode to his people—rural, white, working-class and poor Southerners—and their recipes: tuna casserole, baked possum, white-bread tomato sandwiches. Mickler died of AIDS in 1988 at age 48, but White Trash Cooking continues to sell. In this episode, Sarah Reynolds explores its lasting influence. 

  • Repast (Gravy Ep. 46)

    Sep 22 2016

    One spring day in 1965, a waiter in Greenwood, Mississippi gave an interview for an NBC television documentary. What he said has made him an unlikely Civil Rights hero… and the subject of an opera oratorio. In this episode of Gravy, the story of that waiter, Booker Wright, put to the music written about him.

  • Dancing the Shrimp Dry: How Chinese Immigrants Drove Louisiana Seafood (Gravy Ep. 45)

    Sep 08 2016

    Imagine this: deep in the Louisiana wetlands, a wooden platform the size of three football fields, covered in shrimp, drying in the sun… which are being danced on by Chinese immigrants, to rid them of their brittle shrimp shells. Now multiply that vision by a hundred, and you have some idea of the vast dried shrimp industry that existed in South Louisiana in the late 19th century. In the new episode of Gravy, Laine Kaplan Levenson, host of Tripod, brings us a story of Chinese immigration, family...more

  • The Leftovers In A Coal Miner's Lunchbox (Gravy Ep. 44)

    Aug 25 2016

    For decades, Ronnie Johnson woke up in the late afternoon, and fixed a lunch to bring with him 2,000 feet underground, as he worked all night in a coal mine. In this episode of Gravy, his son, Caleb, tells the story of the evolution of his father’s lunchtime ritual, as the mining industry in Alabama has changed. Caleb tells a personal narrative of his dad’s lunches and the logistics of eating a meal so far underground, but it’s also one of a family reckoning with a changing economy, and the stor...more

  • An Apple Quest (Gravy Ep. 43)

    Aug 11 2016

    You’ve heard of explorers discovering new lands, but new… fruits? Fruit exploring has a long and abundant history, including in the American South, a region once rich in apple orchards. In this episode of Gravy, a couple of young fruit explorers scour the South on a hunt for the perfect cider apple. Reporter Mary Helen Montgomery takes us on their search, and along the way delves into the little-known story of apple-growing and cider-making in this region.

  • Schnitzel and the Saturn V (Gravy Ep. 42)

    Jul 28 2016

    How did Huntsville, Alabama become home to a whole host of German restaurants? It has more to do with rocket science, than with Southerners’ love of spaetzle. In this episode of Gravy: a story of space exploration, World War II, nationalism—and the food that emigrated to Alabama along with a rocket scientist named Werner von Braun. Reporter Dana Bialek explains how his arrival in the South not only led America into the space race; it led Huntsville into an ongoing fondness for schnitzel.

  • ENCORE: Dinner at the Patel Motel (Gravy Ep. 33)

    Jul 14 2016

    We stay at them around the South and across the United States: Day’s Inn. Best Western. Quality Inn. But there is a food world behind the scenes at some motels that most people are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, a partnership with the Post & Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, we delve into that world. Hanna Raskin brings us the story of how so many motels came to be owned by families from the Gujarat region of India, and the secret cooking they do to keep their culinary traditions goi...more

  • Fish Camps: Fried Seafood and Family in a North Carolina Mill Town

    Jun 30 2016

    For years in Gaston County, North Carolina, just west of Charlotte, there was a local tradition on Friday or Saturday night: Get the whole family in the car, and head to the fish camp. A fish camp is not what it sounds like. You don't fish there. You don't camp there. Instead, it's a place to eat—a simple, family-owned seafood restaurant. For much of the twentieth century, these restaurants were a centerpiece of family life and social life. Nowadays, though, they're hard to come by. Mary Helen M...more

  • A Seafood Phenomenon: the Wonder of Alabama Jubilees (Gravy Ep. 40)

    Jun 16 2016

    Imagine: crabs, fish, eels—a whole team of sea creatures—rushing towards the shore, and then sitting there, as if waiting to be caught. This isn’t some fisherman’s daydream. It really happens in Alabama’s Mobile Bay. In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of the Jubilee, a rare natural phenomenon that provides local residents with a bounty of seafood.

  • The Middle East in Music City (Gravy Ep. 39)

    Jun 02 2016

    The pride of Nashville: honky tonks and… Halal lamb? The area of the city known as Little Kurdistan contains a whole culinary universe that many people—even those who live in the city—are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, we partner with Jakob Lewis of the podcast Neighbors from Nashville Public Radio. Jakob takes us on a tour of the Kurdish part of Nashville with Shirzad Tayyar, a resident who’s made it his mission to make his corner of the city better known by everyone.

  • What’s Growing in Mossville? (Gravy Ep. 38)

    May 19 2016

    The residents of Mossville, Louisiana have long prized self-sufficiency. Founded by freed slaves in the 1700s, Mossville was a place where everyone grew their own fruits and vegetables, caught fish, and hunted. African American families built the town from the ground up, and the land provided so well for them that, even into the 20th century, many didn’t realize they were technically “poor.” And then: the petrochemical industry moved in. In this episode of Gravy, we tell the story of Mossville, ...more

  • Halo Halo: Growing up “Mix Mix,” Filipino in the American South (Gravy Ep. 37)

    May 05 2016

    When Alexis Diao’s father arrived in Tallahassee, Florida, he couldn’t even find coconut milk—let alone many other ingredients to make the Filipino food of his home. But there was an even bigger problem: he didn’t know how to cook. His feeling of remove from everything familiar was intensified; he was in a new land with unfamiliar foods, and not a clue how to cook them. In this episode of Gravy, Alexis ponders how her family and others made a culinary home for Filipinos in the Florida panhandle,...more

  • The New Old Country Store (Gravy Ep. 36)

    Apr 21 2016

    Every week, Cracker Barrel provides 4 million Americans with a studied version of down-home Southern food and hospitality. The dumplins and the chicken-fried steak. The country knick-knacks and the rocking chairs. What are we really consuming, culturally, along with the hashbrown casserole? In this episode of Gravy, Besha Rodell ponders the restaurant chain, the trickiness of Southern nostalgia, and how all of that has ended up informing her understanding of family.

  • Wanting the Bourbon You Can’t Have (Gravy Ep. 35)

    Apr 07 2016

    When it comes to a certain kind of bourbon, it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have—you can’t get it unless you’re exceptionally lucky or you’re willing to break the law. In this episode of Gravy, we teamed up with the podcast Criminal to bring you the story of the cult of popularity surrounding Pappy Van Winkle… and how it’s driven some to crime. The Pappy frenzy has law enforcement, bartenders, and even the Van Winkle family themselves wringing their hands.

  • Jell-O Makes the Modern (Mountain) Woman (Gravy Ep. 34)

    Mar 24 2016

    Jell-O could seem like a trivial food. It’s brightly colored-- vibrantly orange, electric green or unsettlingly blue—nutritionally void, and, hey, it jiggles. But in Appalachia, Jell-O marked a transformation in the lives of rural residents. In this episode of Gravy, Kentucky writer Lora Smith sifts through a trove of oral histories that demonstrate the sea change in culinary that Jell-O represented. It served, for these communities, as a benchmark in a time. Life could be sorted into a pre-Jel...more

  • Dinner at the Patel Motel (Gravy Ep. 33)

    Mar 09 2016

    We stay at them around the South and across the United States: Day’s Inn. Best Western. Quality Inn. But there is a food world behind the scenes at some motels that most people are unaware of. In this episode of Gravy, a partnership with the Post & Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, we delve into that world. Hanna Raskin brings us the story of how so many motels came to be owned by families from the Gujarat region of India, and the secret cooking they do to keep their culinary traditions goi...more

  • Mexican-ish: How Arkansas Came to Love Cheese Dip (Gravy Ep. 32)

    Feb 25 2016

    There’s a dish you’ll find at every kind of restaurant in Little Rock, from the pizza places to the burger joints: cheese dip. How did it become so beloved in Arkansas? And what does it reveal about the state’s past—and present? In this episode of Gravy, Dana Bialek and host Tina Antolini investigate this story of highways, demographic changes, and a food’s shifting identity over time.

  • A Trailer, a Temple, a Feast: Making Laos in North Carolina (Gravy Ep. 31)

    Feb 11 2016

    Sticky rice. It may not be the first dish you expect to be served in a double-wide trailer in the mountain South, but in Morganton, North Carolina, you will find it in abundance. In this episode of Gravy, Katy Clune brings us the story of one Laotian family that’s introducing their community to their food and faith, and working to make themselves a home in the South. Food weaves in and around this story, from the solitary egg that fed a whole family fleeing Laos to become refugees in Thailand, t...more

  • The Pull of Pollo: How the Chicken Industry Transformed One Arkansas Town (Gravy Ep. 30)

    Jan 28 2016

    When you think of Southern food, especially if you're not from the South, fried chicken might be the first dish that comes to mind. Chicken is a Southern staple, and the biggest chicken companies in the world are all based in the South. The second-largest poultry state is Arkansas, and the northwest region—home to the Walmart empire—is also home to Tyson, Cargill, and George's, among others.  Twenty years ago, it was more than 80% white, but today—because of big chicken—there's a ballooning pop...more

  • Hip Hop to Bibimbap: the Atlanta of Christiane Lauterbach (Gravy Ep. 11)

    Jan 14 2016

    What kind of view of a city can you have through its restaurants? Or—more specifically—through its strip mall restaurants? Christiane Lauterbach’s multi-decade career proves: a whole lot. Christiane is a woman full of contradictions. A loner who is unfailingly gregarious. A self-described hermit who loves to ramble around her adopted city of Atlanta, Georgia. A French transplant who refuses to claim a Southern identity, but has changed the way Atlantans think about their restaurants. In this ep...more

  • Fighting for the Promised Land: A Story of Farming and Racism (Gravy Ep. 29)

    Dec 31 2015

    Shirley Sherrod’s introduction to the intermingling of agriculture and racism came when she was 17 years old, with an incident that changed the course of her life. And, after that moment, her life has been one defined by the fight for black-owned farmland. It’s a fight that has included devastating racism, the biggest class action lawsuit in the history of the United States, and a high-profile firing from the USDA.  But Shirley’s story taps into a much bigger one; she and her family are just so...more

  • Southern Fried Baked Alaska (Gravy Ep. 28)

    Dec 17 2015

    What do the restaurants of your childhood say about the place you grew up? In Jack Hitt’s case, the Oysters Mornay and Escargots Bourguignonne of his Charleston, South Carolina home revealed a South attempting to be less… Southern. This was the 1970s, an era in which serving shrimp & grits in a fine dining restaurant was about as chic as wearing your bathrobe out on the town. Fine for home, not for going out. Bu the fancy fake French food of that period tells us plenty about Southern identity—t...more

  • Delta Jewels (Gravy Ep. 27)

    Dec 03 2015

    When Alysia Burton Steele moved to Mississippi, she found herself drawn to the Delta. Something about it reminded her of her grandmother, who’d grown up in rural South Carolina. That observation would lead Alysia on a journey of discovery, seeking out the stories of elderly women of her grandmother’s generation. Their memories often focused on food. And they painted a portrait of the Mississippi Delta that is usually missed by an outside world that focuses on the poverty, the racism, the hardshi...more

  • South by South of the Border Soul Food (Gravy Ep. 26)

    Nov 19 2015

    Black-eyed peas and collards. Fried chicken and peach cobbler. Customers at Delicious Southern Cuisine in Los Angeles come for these soul food staples, a taste that reminds some of their Southern roots. But: there’s a different narrative going on in the kitchen… one with a Latino flavor. When Southerners leave the South, their food comes too. Hence, the density of soul food restaurants in cities that were destinations for African Americans during the Great Migration, cities like Los Angeles. Bu...more

  • The Cajun Reconnection (Gravy Ep. 25)

    Nov 05 2015

    How is a region of the far north—Canada—intimately connected to a region 2,000 miles away in the Deep South? It’s a story that begins 250 years ago, and involves both loss and reunification, the reconnection of a people with shared ancestry. In this episode of Gravy, Simon Thibault looks at how a bunch of Acadians, the cousins of the Cajuns of Louisiana, came to understand their extended family through copious meals of gumbo, boudin, jambalaya and everything étouffé’d that they can eat.  This ...more

  • The Mason Jar Pickle (Gravy Ep. 24)

    Oct 22 2015

    They’re everywhere: in your fancy cocktail bar and your down home country restaurant. In the hands of farmer’s market shoppers and 7-Eleven Slurpee slurpers. How did mason jars get to be so ubiquitous? How did they come to be embraced by the DIY canner and the hipster chicken & waffles restaurant? And what does their omnipresence tell us about the cultural cache of the South? In this episode of Gravy, Gabe Bullard takes on the cultural politics of the Mason Jar: how it became hip, and what that...more

  • Combat Ready Kitchen (Gravy Ep. 23)

    Oct 08 2015

    One of the more important places for the modern Southern (and American) diet may be... an obscure army base in Natick, Massachusetts. The Combat Feeding Directorate looks just like any other suburban office park, but it’s an origin point for many of the processed foods that find their way onto our grocery store shelves. In this episode of Gravy, Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of "Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat," takes host Tina Antolini along on an investig...more

  • A Salt Story: West Virginia Siblings Mine the Past to Build a Future (Gravy Ep. 22)

    Sep 24 2015

    While West Virginia may be known for resources like coal, the country once turned to this mountain state for a culinary staple: salt. Salt production started in this part of the Appalachian mountains in the late 1700s. It was an industry built on the backs of slaves, and one that proved destructive to the region’s environment. Now, a seventh generation salt-making family is reviving the business. In this week’s episode of Gravy, Caleb Johnson and Irina Zhorov bring us the story of one family's a...more

  • Coming Out Meatless (Gravy Ep. 21)

    Sep 10 2015

    What does *not* eating meat say about you? In one young biracial man’s family, his dietary change was construed as white, elite, even feminine. In the new episode of Gravy, radio producer Renee Gross tells us Choya Webb’s story, and how he has navigated the cultural politics of going vegetarian. For Choya, it has to do with more than food—it has to do with race and sexual orientation.

  • Red Beans, Red Wine, & Rebuilds: a Katrina Anniversary Special (Gravy Ep. 20)

    Aug 27 2015

    Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, how does the city’s food reveal how the place has changed? This hour-long special episode of Gravy takes on that question, from what was eaten just after the storm to the stories of two restaurants that tap into the post-Katrina gentrification and marketing of New Orleans to the outside world. In part one, we hear the personal stories of three New Orleanians, taken from blogs they kept in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Food figures ...more

  • Ice Cream, Coffee, and Community in Alabama: A Gravy Road Trip (Gravy Ep. 19)

    Aug 13 2015

    The Shoals is a community in Northwest Alabama made up of four towns: Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. Tucked in the foothills of the Tennessee River Valley, the Shoals is an hour from any interstate, and at least a two-hour drive from the nearest big cities—Nashville to the north and Birmingham to the south.   The Shoals is one of the most documented places in the world of music. The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, the Allman Brothers, Bobbie Gentry, even the Osmond Brother...more

  • Bill Smith Turns Up the Volume (Gravy Ep. 9)

    Jul 30 2015

    How does a chef’s taste in things other than food wind up influencing what’s on the plate? For example, if they like rocking out to, say, the Butthole Surfers—is that relevant? If you were to meet Bill Smith riding his bike around town, you might not realize you’d encountered an avid rock fan. Bill is 66, bespectacled, usually wearing a baseball cap over his white hair. He’s the chef at Crook’s Corner, the James Beard Award-winning Southern restaurant. The giveaway as to his musical predilectio...more

  • Holding Onto the Bayou (Gravy Ep. 18)

    Jul 16 2015

    Five years ago this week, the BP oil spill ended. On July 15, 2010, the well that had been spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico was capped, after 87 days. It was the largest spill in the nation’s history, and had a devastating impact on Gulf Coast fisheries. The long term effects of the spill continue to reveal themselves for the Louisiana Coast, which has supported communities of fishermen for centuries. But the oil spill isn’t the only thing they’re up against. The land ...more

  • A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation (Gravy Ep. 17)

    Jul 02 2015

    Charleston, South Carolina has become the center of discussions about race and violence in America these past few weeks. The massacre of nine African American parishioners at a historic black church there has prompted a national discussion and collective soul-searching: how did this happen in 2015? What work still needs to be done to prevent this sort of racial hatred and terrorism? But Charleston is also home to a historical bright spot, a moment from 150 years ago that is still inspiring So...more

  • Fried Chicken: A Complicated Comfort Food (Gravy Ep. 16)

    Jun 18 2015

    It’s easy to love fried chicken. The light crunch of a crisped wing or leg, followed by the moist meat of the interior; it’s understandably beloved. But there is more going on with this comfort food than you might think. Fried chicken has both been the vehicle for the economic empowerment of a whole group of people—and the accessory to an ugly racial stereotype. How can something so delicious be both? In this episode of Gravy, Lauren Ober goes from a Virginia Fried Chicken Festival to a soul foo...more

  • A City Built on Barbecue (Gravy Ep. 15)

    Jun 04 2015

    Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” (In fact, the state legislature got a little more specific about it, dubbing the city “the Hickory Smoked Barbecue Capital of North Carolina.”) For more than one hundred years, pitmasters there have been cooking pork shoulders slowly over coals from a wood fire, and slicking them with a sweet, red barbecue sauce. And so, when Lexington officials began to renovate a municipal building, they were thrilled by an unexpected...more

  • The Last Jews of Natchez (Gravy Ep. 14)

    May 21 2015

    People are often surprised when Robin Amer tells them her family is from the South. That’s because her family is Jewish, and a lot of people don’t realize there are Jews in the South, especially in tiny towns like Natchez, Mississippi. But Robin’s family has lived there for 160 years, and their traditions—and foodways—are a unique hybrid of their European Jewish heritage and their Southern home. The Jewish community in Natchez has been dwindling for years, though. Now, it’s down to only a handf...more

  • A Migration Reversed (Gravy Ep. 13)

    May 07 2015

    Once you’ve left home in search of a better life, what might make you return? During the Great Migration, six million African Americans left the South for the North. Donnie “Pen” Travis was one of them. But that was just the start of his journey. In this episode of Gravy, Eve Abrams brings us the story of one man’s migration, and how farming prompted both his depature… and his return.

  • Tamales for the Derby (Gravy Ep. 12)

    Apr 23 2015

    Most of us know the Kentucky Derby from the front side of the track: the fancy Derby hats, the mint juleps, the thrill of the race. But there’s a whole other world to racetracks in the South—and one with food that tells a story about who’s working there. In this episode of Gravy, we follow the horse racing seasons from track to track to learn about the workers behind the scenes, and what their food tells about who they are.  

  • Hip Hop to Bibimbap: the Atlanta of Christiane Lauterbach (Gravy Ep. 11)

    Apr 09 2015

    What kind of view of a city can you have through its restaurants? Or—more specifically—through its strip mall restaurants? Christiane Lauterbach’s multi-decade career proves: a whole lot. Christiane is a woman full of contradictions. A loner who is unfailingly gregarious. A self-described hermit who loves to ramble around her adopted city of Atlanta, Georgia. A French transplant who refuses to claim a Southern identity, but has changed the way Atlantans think about their restaurants. In this ep...more

  • Our Bourbon Street or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Hand Grenade (Gravy Ep. 10)

    Mar 26 2015

    You probably have a mental image of Bourbon Street: drunken revelers, neon signs, debauchery of many kinds. Well, it once was just a residential street in the heart of the French Quarter—totally normal. No Big Ass Beers or Huge Ass Beers. How did it go from that to the temple of over indulgence that it is today? In this episode of Gravy, Rien Fertel brings us the people’s history of Bourbon Street—and the story of the wickedly strong cocktail that has become one of its staples.

  • Bill Smith Turns Up the Volume (Gravy Ep. 9)

    Mar 12 2015

    How does a chef’s taste in things other than food wind up influencing what’s on the plate? For example, if they like rocking out to, say, the Butthole Surfers—is that relevant? If you were to meet Bill Smith riding his bike around town, you might not realize you’d encountered an avid rock fan. Bill is 66, bespectacled, usually wearing a baseball cap over his white hair. He’s the chef at Crook’s Corner, the James Beard Award-winning Southern restaurant. The giveaway as to his musical predilectio...more

  • The Pie Formerly Known as Derby (Gravy Ep. 8)

    Feb 26 2015

    In and around Louisville, lots of things are named after the Kentucky Derby. The famous horse race, held at Churchill Downs every first weekend in May, has leant its name to everything from apartment complexes to hats to… pie. It’s a part of many Kentuckians Derby Day celebrations. But as beloved as Derby Pie is, it’s also been the source of controversy. In this episode of Gravy, producer Nina Feldman brings us the story of how the name of a confection has tapped into something surprisingly emot...more

  • Brothers, Soldiers, Farmers (Gravy Ep. 7)

    Feb 12 2015

    There are more military veterans in the South than any other part of the United States. This region has also been losing farmers at an astonishing rate. Those two things sound disconnected? Not if two brothers in Kentucky have any say about it. This is the story of two soldiers who found their way into farming after war. But it’s also the story of two brothers whose experience in uniform and in the fields has been very different from one another. Producer Alix Blair takes us to rural Kentucky...more