Gravy shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat. Gravy showcases a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions, and lovingly maintaining old ones. It uses food as a means to explore all of that, to dig into lesser-known corners of the region, complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics, and give voice to the unsung folk who grow, cook, and serve our daily meals.


  • The Deli Diaspora

    Feb 24 2021

    Order a hot pastrami on rye at any delicatessen and you’ll taste the briny terroir of the Jewish Diaspora. Pastrami is an iconic cured meat that migrated with Eastern European Jews to America and became synonymous with the deli, a beloved third place for Jewish communities across the country. In Jackson, Mississippi, that place was the Olde Tyme Deli, which Judy and Irv Feldman owned and operated from 1961 until 2000. In this episode, we’ll trace the migration of pastrami to the Deep South, wher...more

  • Eating a Muffaletta in Des Moines, by Brian Spears

    Feb 10 2021

    "Eating a Muffaletta in Des Moines," by Brian Spears. Featured in Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. University of Georgia Press, 2018.

  • It is Simple, by Jon Pineda

    Jan 20 2021

    "It is Simple," by Jon Pineda. Featured in Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. University of Georgia Press, 2018.

  • Scrap That: Charlotte's attempt to compost food waste

    Dec 30 2020

    In 2018, Beverlee Sanders launched a novel pilot project in Charlotte, North Carolina: collecting food scraps from a small number of homes and sending them to a composting facility, rather than to the landfill. Food is the number one category of waste going to landfills. Once dumped, it produces methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Beverlee, who works for the city’s solid waste services division, thought if she could show how much food she kept out of the landfill—seven tons after just 18 week...more

  • Christians Take Up Climate Change

    Dec 23 2020

    Anna Shine is an Episcopal parish priest in Boone, North Carolina. Her focus, both during her education and now in her work, has been 'creation care,' which is theologically motivated environmentalism. She sees food security and climate change as intrinsically Christian issues, with representation and instruction present in scripture. And she's not alone. Other church leaders in the South—who continue to hold sway that clergy in less religious parts of the country may not—are also renewing their...more

  • Take it Easement: Save a farm to save the future?

    Dec 16 2020

    The U.S. is losing agricultural land to commercial, industrial, and residential development. Every state is converting ag acres to other uses, but the South is losing more farmland than any other region. Southern states' policy response has also lagged behind other parts of the country. Why does this matter? First, it matters because we need land to grow food. And second, agricultural land can sequester carbon and it emits less greenhouse gases than developed land.  Some municipalities, like Lex...more

  • Low-Carbon Dining: How much can restaurants do?

    Dec 09 2020

    Restaurants—and not just those working with Zero Foodprint—are starting to wake up to the issues around climate change, food, and the role chefs can play in driving change. That can mean being purposeful about the kinds of farmers they work with, but also educating diners, who may ultimately bring more sustainable ingredients to their home kitchens, too. 

  • A Peach for a Warming South

    Dec 02 2020

    Lawton Pearson grows more than 30 peach varieties in his Georgia orchard. Among them is a special new cultivar, the Crimson Joy peach, designed to thrive in the warmer temperatures climate change brings. But that might be a hard sell for farmers like Pearson, for whom the peach is not only an important crop but also a cultural touchstone. Can scientists keep up with climate change? 

  • Goat is the Future: An Interview with Tom Rankin

    Oct 29 2020

    Goat Light provides focused reflections by Tom Rankin and Jill McCorkle upon their home and farm northwest of Hillsborough in rural Orange County, North Carolina. In this episode of Gravy, Tom Rankin talks about how goat can figure into a Southern future. This episode is part of a 4-episode 2020 symposium series where Gravy interviews authors whose work shapes our ideas about the future of the South.

  • Praising Fireflies with Aimee Nezhukumatathil

    Oct 22 2020

    Gravy host John T Edge talks with poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil about her book, World of Wonders. The poetry collection integrates everyday life, family history, and natural history, and offers a path, to see and think anew. This episode is part of a 4-episode 2020 symposium series where Gravy interviews authors whose work shapes our ideas about the future of the South.

  • Pondering the Fate of Food: An Interview with Amanda Little

    Oct 15 2020

    In her book The Fate Of Food: What We'll Eat In A Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World, Amanda Little considers the sustainable food revolution in light of growing global populations and climate change. Gravy interviews Amanda Little in this special episode that considers the future of food.

  • Mapping the Green Book: An Interview with Candacy Taylor

    Oct 08 2020

    Author, photographer, and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor's most recent project is Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (Abrams Books). In this interview with Melissa Hall, Taylor talks about the process of researching the Green Book, visiting the sites, and taking photographs. She also speaks to the way the work connected her with her stepfather, who had personal stories that enriched her study.

  • Such As, by Wo Chan

    Sep 17 2020

    "Such As," by Wo Chan. Featured in Vinegar & Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. University of Georgia Press, 2018.

  • Visible Yam

    Sep 03 2020

    The SFA mourns the passing of Randall Kenan, a long-time member and frequent presenter at SFA events. This Gravy episode is a re-broadcast of Randall Kenan's presentation at the 2018 Southern Foodways Symposium, which studied food and literature.

  • We the People are Larger Than We Used to Be

    Aug 27 2020

    What are the legacies of our pasts? How does the past shape our today? How do the lives our parents and grandparents led affect the lives we lead today? Those are some of the questions writer Tommy Tomlinson of Charlotte has been asking himself. And he's asking them in a really interesting way. We are accustomed to hearing that question asked about something like education. If your parents went to college, you have a greater chance of going to college. But how does the life and work of your peop...more

  • Magic City Poetry

    Aug 20 2020

    In this episode of Gravy, Ashley M. Jones and Lee Bains III share verses about food labor. Jones is an award-winning poet from Birmingham, Alabama. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press 2017),  dark / / thing (Pleiades Press 2019), and Reparations Now! (Hub City Press 2021). Her work has earned several awards, including the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards and the Lucille Clifton Legacy A...more

  • Punchin' the Dough: Singing about Food Labor

    Aug 13 2020

    From Punchin' the Dough to Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia, music has long included songs about labor. Scott Barretta, who once served as editor of Living Blues magazine, shares songs about food labor in folk, blues, and country music traditions.

  • Food Festival Financials

    Aug 06 2020

    Festivals are terrific ways to celebrate place and food, to showcase community and culture. At their best, festivals are gathering spots for people who see each other all too seldom. They're celebrations of what a community values. And food festivals can democratize access to artisan goods and artisan producers by offering a bite, a taste, a glimpse, and a sip of the rarefied world of white-tablecloth dining. But that access comes with costs. Most festival-goers likely think their ticket price c...more

  • Shucking, by Elton Glaser

    Jul 16 2020

    "Shucking" by Elton Glaser Featured in Vinegar & Char: Verses from the Southern Foodways Alliance. University of Georgia Press, 2018.

  • Cajun Kibbe: Eating Lebanese in Louisiana

    Jun 18 2020

    In 1983, a Lafayette housewife named Bootsie John Landry self-published a cookbook called The Best of South Louisiana Cooking. Sprinkled among the expected Cajun staples were less familiar recipes like fattoush and something called Sittee’s Lentil Salad. Bootsie was part of a large Lebanese family and a greater community that began emigrating from Lebanon to Louisiana as early as the 1880s. Her cousins are the Reggie family, who for the past century have been cooking up traditional Lebanese comf...more

  • Two Tales of Donaldsonville: True Friends & The Chance Café

    Jun 11 2020

    This is a story about a briefcase and a cracker box. It’s a story about finding extraordinary things in ordinary places. In the South Louisiana town of Donaldsonville, two families—the Quezaires and the Savoia-Guillots—unearthed time capsules of local history within family keepsakes. These two archives tell the story of a town with a complicated past, unraveling a timeline of slavery, emancipation, immigration, and mutual aid. Roy Quezaire, Jr. shares his memories of the True Friends Benevolent ...more

  • Nueva Acadiana

    May 28 2020

    When Wanda Lugo opened her Venezuelan restaurant, Patacon Latin Cuisine, in 2015, she wasn’t sure how the city of Lafayette would react. Many Lafayette residents had never tasted Venezuelan food before. Wanda’s opening week was one of the busiest they’ve had in the restaurant’s five-year history. She runs Patacon with her daughter, Maria, her son, Daniel, and her niece, Elimar. It’s no accident that the Lugos ended up in Lafayette. Wanda’s husband, Jose, is an electrical engineer at Halliburton,...more

  • The Miracle of Slaw and Fishes: Louisiana’s Lenten Fish Fries

    May 21 2020

    Order a catfish po-boy or a few pounds of crawfish in Acadiana any Friday between Mardi Gras and Easter, and you may be surprised to learn that your delight is another person’s sacrifice. The Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat during Fridays in Lent is alive and well in Southwest Louisiana, a region where more than a third identify as Catholic. Thanks to the long list of Catholic churches and restaurants that roll out an array of delectable seafood options on Lenten Fridays, it’s not muc...more

  • Ten Gallons and a Bag of Cracklins: Filling Up in Cajun Country

    May 14 2020

    Along the highways and rural byways of South Louisiana, there’s great boudin, cracklins, and plenty more to be found. Many of these food destinations have one thing in common -- they’re found within gas stations. Acadiana’s roadside stops attract thousands of customers each day, whether they’re travelers making a pilgrimage across the state to fill their ice boxes with boudin, or oil and gas workers stopping for a bag of cracklins before heading out to the refinery or offshore rig. Cajun gas sta...more

  • Eat 'Em Till You Beat 'Em: Florida’s Lionfish Problem

    Mar 19 2020

    Poisonous, spiky, bug-eyed and edible: Lionfish are a prolific invasive species off the coast of Florida. Their voracious appetites are destroying native reef fish populations, leaving decimated reefs in their wake. Chefs and concerned eaters are attempting to eat their way through this problem. You can find items like lionfish sushi, poached and broiled lionfish, and lionfish dumplings on menus throughout South Florida. Reporter Wilson Sayre takes us to the Florida Keys to catch a few lionfish ...more

  • Grape Expectations for Virginia Wine

    Mar 12 2020

    Virginia is often heralded as the birthplace of American wine. But from colonial times through efforts made by Thomas Jefferson, those efforts were seen as a failure. The archetypical image of wine country—arid, rocky places—is not what one thinks of when conjuring images of wet, humid, Virginia summers.  But a few pioneering grape growers and winemakers have made huge strides over the past few decades, giving wine enthusiasts a taste for Virginia terroir.  Reporter Wilson Sayre explores this hi...more

  • Sorghum: Planting Possibilities

    Mar 05 2020

    For many people in the American South, sorghum is a condiment to be spread, like maple syrup, on top of warm, pillowy biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread. But for most of the world, particularly in West Africa, sorghum is a grain used much like rice or quinoa. There is a growing group of chefs, millers, plant breeders, and farmers that is trying to reconnect with the West African roots of sorghum and create gastronomic and growing opportunities in this region. Reporter Wilson Sayre explains how so...more

  • The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pitmaster Ed Mitchell

    Feb 27 2020

    Ed Mitchell’s name has come to be synonymous with Eastern North Carolina wood-smoked whole-hog barbecue. From Wilson, North Carolina, he grew up smoking hogs and has tried to continue that tradition, using old techniques and traditionally farm-raised pigs. But almost since the start, Ed Mitchell’s barbeque journey has not been a straight line—business relationships, racism, and smoke have all shaped his rollercoaster ride.

  • Greetings from Ham & Bacon High School

    Feb 20 2020

    How much is too much for bacon? $10 a pound? $20? What about $500 a pound? In New Martinsville, West Virginia someone actually paid $500 a pound at auction for bacon raised and butchered under pretty special circumstances. The bacon, along with ham and eggs, sold at this auction are raised and butchered by high schoolers as part of their school curriculum. Reporter Corey Knollinger tell us the story of what it takes to compete in the Wetzel County Ham, Bacon, and Egg show. 

  • Harassment and the Service Economy

    Dec 18 2019

    In restaurants, economics and sexual harassment are intimately entwined. Restaurants, along with hotels, have the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry. For a tipped worker, in particular, how and how much one gets paid can determine how empowered one feels to respond against harassment. We delve into why restaurants pay servers just $2.13 per hour and how that affects how they deal with bad clients. And we look at why money might not be the only culprit when it comes to harassment....more

  • Spinning Carolina Gold Rice into Sake

    Dec 11 2019

    For much of the 19th Century, Carolina Gold rice was a favorite of American rice growers, before disappearing in the early 20th Century. Brought back to life in the 1980s, it again occupies a much beloved, if niche, place in the South's canon of heirloom ingredients. Now, Hagood Coxe, a daughter of a Carolina Gold farmer, wants to make sake, a Japanese rice wine, out of the grain.

  • Are prison diets punitive? A report from behind bars

    Dec 04 2019

    Is prison food causing problems for public health? Gravy investigates.

  • Access Denied: Cooperative Extension and Tribal Lands

    Nov 27 2019

    Cooperative extension is a century-old government program that places agricultural agents in counties to educate and work with farmers. But for years, agents failed to show up for Native American communities.

  • Preserving Community Canneries

    Nov 20 2019

    Community canneries–facilities, often subsidized by local government, where people can in bulk–are closing. With groceries easily available even in rural communities, there's less need. And with busy schedules, people have less time for the labor-intensive process of canning their own food. But people who continue to use the still-operational canneries, like Arnold and Donna Lafon, find community and pride in the practice.

  • Mahalia Jackson's Glori-Fried Chicken

    Sep 05 2019

    In addition to her work as an international recording artist and civil rights activist, the Queen of Gospel entered the restaurant business in the late 1960s with Mahalia Jackson’s Glori-fried Chicken. The fast food chain was more than a brand extension for the star; it was the first African American-owned franchise in the South. Producer Betsy Shepherd tells how Mahalia used the gospel bird to push for economic empowerment in the black community.

  • Where Mexico Meets Arkansas

    Aug 29 2019

    Menudo, sopes, gorditas, tortas, gringas, huaraches, mangonadas, and alambres are just some of the specialty dishes of De Queen, Arkansas, population 6,600. A majority of the town's residents are Latino. Many of them migrated from Mexico to southwest Arkansas for jobs in poultry processing plants. Producer Betsy Shepherd attends Fiesta Fest, the town’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, to sample local food and music and to hear stories from the men and women who make it.

  • A Taste of Dollywood

    Aug 22 2019

    Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Appalachian-themed amusement park, draws millions of country fans and thrill seekers to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, every year. The tourist attraction features roller coasters, live music, folk art demonstrations, and a Dolly museum in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Recently, the park has started marketing itself as a culinary destination. Producer Betsy Shepherd goes on a Dollywood tasting tour to gain insight on her musical idol and experience Dolly’s vision of th...more

  • Electric Tofu

    Aug 15 2019

    In the early 1970s, two hundred hippies from San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood resettled in rural Tennessee. They founded a vegetarian commune and agricultural operation called The Farm. With help from their neighbors and a psychedelic soundtrack from their house band, the back-to-landers got their social experiment off the ground and produced some of the first vegan cookbooks and commercial soy products in the United States. The Farm outlived the Flower Power era to become a model of ...more

  • Biscuit Blues

    Aug 08 2019

    Delta blues found its voice and audience on the airwaves of KFFA’s King Biscuit Time, a daily broadcast out of Helena, Arkansas. Bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood Jr., who would go on to become legends, interspersed their own songs with advertising jingles. King Biscuit Time, which launched in 1941, gave unprecedented exposure to African American musicians while selling everyday grocery staples like flour and cornmeal. And it's still on the air. Reporter-producer Betsy Sheph...more

  • The Magical, Meandering Life of Eugene Walter

    May 30 2019

    Eugene Walter (1921–1998) of Mobile, Alabama was a novelist, a poet, a playwright, an actor, a costume designer, and a food writer, among myriad vocations and avocations. He had a deep love for the Mobile of his youth, which nurtured his creativity and informed much of his writing. He spent thirty years in Europe, acting in and translating films, hosting and carousing with artists, actors, and literati. Mobile called him home for the last chapter of his life. His surviving friends agree: Walter ...more

  • When Menus Talk

    May 23 2019

    What do restaurant menus have to say about the identity of a restaurant or the point of view of the chef? It turns out, menus are more nuanced and revealing than we might suspect. They reveal narratives that extend far beyond the bill of fare. They are collectors' items and rich historical documents. They are highly curated and sometimes distinctly engineered texts. They may impact the dining experience more than you think. Reporter Sara Brooke Curtis explores menus as text and menus as literatu...more

  • Cooking Up Social Change with Julia Turshen

    May 16 2019

    Can cookbooks be a vehicle for social change? What can or should cookbook writers offer readers beyond recipes? Writer and cookbook author Julia Turshen takes her roles very seriously. She crafts accessible, affordable recipes and coaches readers via social media. She uses her platform to build community, foster equity, honor identity, and pay homage to the cooks and writers who came before her.  Sara Brooke Curtis reported and produced this story. 

  • Catering: Behind the Pipe and Drape

    May 09 2019

    Have you ever been to a wedding and wondered, how do hundreds of plates of food arrive at the right destinations at the right time—often without an on-site kitchen? This is high-concept cooking, done without a net. Cookbook authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee spent four years immersed in the catering industry and wrote a book about their experiences and revelations called Hotbox. In this episode, with the Lee Brothers as her guides, reporter-producer Sara Brooke Curtis steps behind the scenes.

  • JoAnn Clevenger: New Orleans’ Uptown Girl Scout

    May 02 2019

    JoAnn Clevenger is a hospitality archetype. She lives to serve and breathes life into every service encounter. For the past thirty-six years, she’s nurtured a haven for guests and staff at Upperline, her New Orleans restaurant. In an era where chef-driven, trend-surfing restaurants are the norm, how does an old-school institution thrive? Clevenger’s empathy and attitude are the keys to her own success. Reporter-producer Sara Brooke Curtis has the story. 

  • Spring Season Trailer

    Apr 22 2019

    The spring season of Gravy, featuring 5 episodes reported and produced by Sara Brooke Curtis, begins on May 2.  With John T. Edge and Melissa Hall as your cohosts, you'll: Sneak behind the pipe-and-drape with the Lee Brothers for a look at the catering industry. Monkey around Mobile with the ghost of Eugene Walter. Behold the quiet power of cookbooks with Julia Turshen. And more. Available at southernfoodways.org and wherever you get your podcasts.   

  • 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