Southern Cooking


True Virginia Ham

In February 1820, a native Virginian then residing in Richmond wrote a letter to a good friend in Princeton, New Jersey. One of his topics in the missive was how best to prepare a hog for dinner: Altho’ I am sick and harassed with much business I must write soon, least your pork should be too long in brine. .…
Forrest L. Marion
March 29, 2024

A Favorite Southern Trio

A few years back, I came to Louisiana for the first time. Being an Indiana Hoosier, I had no idea what dishes were native to this region, aside from gumbo and crawfish. The first Southern meal my Louisiana family introduced me to was red beans and rice. I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I took my…
Arianna Brindle
March 15, 2024

Cook That You May Conserve, Part 3

‘But what we really seek is a different kind of sustenance. We seek a cultural relic that points to an old style of “Southern-ness” that is quickly vanishing from modern American life. We seek crude essences of the frontier, unswerving backwoods mentalities, rural respect for tradition, insights into rural humor, and examples of the wild braggadocio that has created many…
James Rutledge Roesch
August 11, 2023

Turner’s Diner, Tire, and Lube

It’s 7:43. Merle is on the radio making empty promises. “Someday when things are good I’m going to leave you,” he sings. But we know better. I am sitting in a corner booth, surrounded by the rising tufts of Marlboros, and still trying to wake up good. Coffee stouter than napalm is dripping, slow and thick, into a pot purchased…
Brandon Meeks
August 2, 2023

Cook That You May Conserve, Part 1

‘Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes. Let’s keep it that way.’ —John Shelton Reed ‘I’ve lived in North Carolina for 60 years, but I love Texas barbecue—in Texas. I love Memphis barbecue in Memphis, Kansas City barbecue in Kansas City, and even…

Cooking Lessons

Grandmother has always been the best cook in the room. From the time she was 10 years old, even if all she had to work with was a neckbone and some wild greens growing along the fence row, she has put braggable food on a plate. The baby of the clan, she started by helping her mamma feed their large,…
Brandon Meeks
July 14, 2023


Early Saturday morning, an unexpected item popped up on my laptop. Not an unusual phenomenon, but this one was different. It came from a New England travel site and featured an article titled, “The Tomato Sandwich-A New England Sumer Treat.” What the heck? Each word slapped me in the face, and I finally understood the definition of cultural appropriation. “No,…
Averyell A. Kessler
June 13, 2023

Mary Randolph: The South’s First Celebrity Chef

My grandfather keeled over dead from a heart attack at the age of 54 after a long battle with arteriosclerosis. If you are not up on your medical jargon, that means the hardening of the arteries. I remember my parents’ telephone-the old black rotary dial type that weighed ten pounds and had a real metal bell-ringing obscenely early one Saturday…
R. Ashley Hall
November 3, 2022

The Pride of Kentucky…and Maryland

There are disagreements on the subject, but I wholeheartedly believe that Bardstown, Kentucky is “where bourbon was born.”   Many of the first bourbons, however, were variations on old rye whiskey recipes brought to the Bardstown area by settlers from Maryland.  Among them were people named Dant, Mattingly, Medley, Wathen, Pottinger, Miles, Willett and Beam, all families associated with the earliest…
J.L. Bennett
April 15, 2022

Knead to Know

Today we are besieged with raucous cries on both America’s streets and its social media platforms, as well as by all too many in the halls of government, to bring to an end what is now termed “systemic racism.”  To bring this amorphous demand about, we are led to believe that the systems that formed the very foundation upon which…
John Marquardt
August 7, 2020

Huey Long’s Potlikker Recipe

In Louisiana history and folklore, Huey Pierce Long occupies a very special niche.  To be depressingly brief, he was born and reared in north-central Louisiana’s hardscrabble Winn Parish where, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contrariness, populism and socialism were dominant.  Charismatic and unscrupulous but unquestionably brilliant, Huey secured a law degree and entered politics.  With a knack…
Roger Busbice
January 28, 2016