The Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. The SFA is a member-supported organization of more than 800 chefs and academics, writers and eaters. In the Atlantic Monthly, Corby Kummer dubbed the SFA “this country’s most intellectually engaged food society.”
The SFA’s mission: “We stage symposia on food culture, produce documentary films, publish compendiums of great writing, and—perhaps most importantly—preserve, promote, and chronicle our region’s culinary standard bearers. We’re talking white tablecloth chefs and fried chicken cooks, barbecue pitmasters and peanut farmers.”
Here they present three oral histories of people talking about their food culture.
The first is from Floyd Poche, of Poche’s Market in Breaux Bridge, LA, interviewed by Sara Roahen for the SFA’s Southern Boudin Trail Project. “A six pack of beer and a pound of boudin. That’s the traditional Cajun seven-course meal. So I guess beer is about the best product to eat with boudin, but there’s nothing wrong with an RC Cola either,” says Mr. Poche.
Rita Forrester, Executive Director of the Carter Music Center, and cook of the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, VA, is interviewed by Amy Evans Streeter, SFA Oral Historian. “She always served food [at the Carter Fold]. Mom was a firm believer in food as a way of making everybody around her feel welcomed and loved,” says Ms. Forrester.
Spooney Kenter of Spooney’s Bar-Be-Que in Greenwood, MS, is interviewed by Amy Evans Streeter, SFA Oral Historian, for the Southern BBQ Trail Project. "What I like most about it is when I get that smile off my customers face. That joy that they have, and they be happy, and I likes that. That's when I get my reward…You know, everybody's put here for a reason, and I feel to understand my reason is food. That's where I get my pleasure from," says Mr. Kenter.
Sue Nguyen of Le Bakery in Biloxi, MS, is interviewed by Francis Lam for the SFA, Biloxi’s Ethnic Shrimping Communities Project. “That is a definite connection, food. I see it all the time. That’s the universal connection. You don’t have to know a language to enjoy something in food,” says Ms. Nguyen.