Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

Right in the middle (or last third rather) of Pie-a-Day month, here I am on a work trip to the Mississippi Delta. That means no pie baking for me, until next Monday. My plan was to “bank” some pies, baking enough before I left so that I would have photos with me and could do the posts from my hotel room. But that was just a teensy bit optimistic, and in fact it was all I could do to pack and head for the airport in time to catch an early morning plane from NC to Memphis. There I picked up a rental car and zoomed down to Greenwood, Mississippi, for the first portion of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual symposium. It’s a one-day field trip focusing attendees on a particular aspect of Southern food and culture, including lots of feasting, conversations, information, education, and fun. This year’s subject is Lebanese food and culture in the Mississippi Delta, where immigrants from Syria and Lebanon have been lived and worked since the late 1800’s. Fascinating, moving presentations all day long, and spectacular tastes of the subject matter made for a memorable day.  Technical difficulties keep me from showing you photographs from today, but here are next best things: Links to the people and places that made it such a fine day.

At Viking Culinary Center in Greenwood:Culinary demonstration and Q&A with author and chef Anissa Helou

Talk by Mary Louise Nosser of Vicksburg, MS

At fantastic bookstore, Turnrow Books, presentation by Jimmy Thomas, Editor of New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, entitled : “Mississippi Mahjar”. Turnrow’s kitchen’s Richard Byrd prepared tabbouleh, hummus, and warm pita bread (bread from Chef Donald Bender); and Richard also shared his delicious little pecan tassies. mmmmm

Blogpost by artist and historian Amy Evans Streeter, on the people and places that made today so delicious for me and my fellow attendees of the SFA Delta Divertissment

Hot tamales, warm hospitality and delightful tales and stories from Pat Davis, Sr., son of Abe Davis and owner of Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS

Spectacular feast of traditional Lebanese dishes (hummus, stuffed grape leaves, kibbe) and magnificent PIE!!!, at Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale, MS, hosted by owners Chafik and Louise Chamoun, and attended by members of the Clarksdale Cedars Club

NPR’s Kitchen Sisters get the story on Lebanese food in the Delta

And here is a blog post featuring today’s pie, from Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale: we had chocolate and coconut cream—fantastic!

Okay, that’s today, and this is just the pre-show!  Am I lucky or what? Yes, I am. See you tomorrow, with more notes.

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.

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