The sixty-plus-degree weather has made grateful simpletons of us all, as we make any excuse to wander around outside with glazed, happy expressions. But when the temperatures dip again at the end of the week, plan to nestle back inside with a copy of the Oxford American magazine’s new Southern Food 2010 issue, guest-edited by John T. Edge. It crowds some juicy, intelligent prose (and a few poems) between its 127 pages.
Atlanta figures prominently in at least three stories: “This Is Not What You Dream” by Mamie Morgan, a career server who weaves thoughts on the restaurant profession around a meal at Woodfire Grill and her enthrallment with Kevin Gillespie. (Fascinatingly, it’s never even mentioned that Woodfire is in Atlanta—has Gillespie really gotten that famous? And PS, Food & Wine has a few more details about Gillespie’s forthcoming barbecue joint, which is aiming for a November opening.)
John Kessler writes a beautifully reported piece about Darryl Evans, chef at the defunct Spice, and why Atlanta has so few prominent black chefs. And Todd Kliman, food editor and restaurant critic for the Washingtonian, writes a piece about Peter Chang, the former chef at Tasty China in Marietta. Last week, Calvin Trillin also published a story about tracking the peripatetic Chang, who’s currently cooking in Charlottesville, Virginia. Freakish coincidence about a fairly obscure chef. I left Atlanta early in 2006, months before ChangMania exploded here. Maybe I should make the pilgrimage to Charlottesville to see what I missed.
Two of my favorite New Orleans writers also have pieces in the issue—Lolis Eric Elie on the missing African American credit to Creole cooking, and Brett Anderson on Uchi in Austin, Texas, owned by a white man, Tyson Cole, who has genuinely absorbed the Japanese gastronomic aesthetic. (I’ve eaten at Uchi and long to return.)
Friday, March 26 is the day the Oxford American will celebrate the issue locally, with multiple events around town.