Photo by Angie Mosier
A new addition to the Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival is Dinner & a Movie which will be held Friday, October 4, at the Pier Village Casino Theatre. The dinner will be catered by Straton Hall (who shared their pimento cheese recipe with us here) and the feature presentation is Pride and Joy, by Southern Foodways Alliance documentary filmmaker Joe York. Led by Director John T. Edge, the SFA is a very actively member supported organization more than 1,200 strong. Chefs and academics, farmers and lawyers, writers and eaters, the SFA is a diverse group of people all devoted to the study and celebration of Southern foodways.
Each year, the SFA produces several films about everything from goat cheese to fried pies, from buttermilk to barbecue. Joe York’s films focus on an American culinary landscape rarely seen: a rural place populated by working-class people who are passionate about the food they grow and produce. His films capture the images of real men and women and give these normal folk; shrimpers, farmers, pit masters, and others outside the industrial food chain, a voice. Pride and Joy, focuses on the tradition-bearers of Southern food culture and questions: what do foodways tell us about who we are as Southerners, how and why do traditional foodways endure, and as the South’s ethnic and racial makeup shifts, how do regional foodways change?
Chef Linton Hopkins, of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, who is a featured chef at this year's festival, is a former SFA president. He says, “We need to know where we come from as cooks in order to know who we are. The documentation performed by the SFA with its films and oral history programs captures the people and stories behind our unique regional identity. Although it is through the lens of foodways, it reveals a deeper identity of who we are as a collective people; what it means to be southern. One aspect I most love is that these are not the stories of chefs but of the people and places which created the foundation of food culture in the American South; the playground which our regional chefs play in.”
The SFA mission is to "document, study, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South". "We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.“ As a Southern chef and food writer, I strongly believe in these values. And, in my opinion, everything about the whole entire world can be summarized by the food that goes into our mouths – politics, race, finance, agriculture, art, religion, education, and geography. The SFA has rigorously tapped into this in examining Southern culture.
Undoubtedly, the SFA is one of the nation’s most creative, educational, and ingenuous not-for-profits. Throughout the entire nation, people recognize that the SFA has pioneered an intellectually rigorous program of cultural inquiry. The Southern Foodways Alliance feeds my head, my heart, and my stomach. If you are interested in food, cooking, or just like to eat -- make sure to catch Dinner & a Movie at the Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival. You’ll be glad you did.
For more information or to join the celebration of Southern Foodways, make sure to check out their website: southernfoodways.org
About Virginia Willis:
Georgia native, chef and food writer Virginia Willis is loved by her fans for her knack for making classic French dishes accessible and giving them a down-home Southern feel. Virginia began her culinary career tossing pizzas in Athens (where she graduated from UGA with a degree in journalism) then, ventured into culinary and graduated from both L'Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne. She apprenticed for Nathalie Dupree’s cooking show on GPB and, has since produced over 1,000 TV episodes, working for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, and Epicurious on The Discovery Channel. She has been featured in USA Today, Country Living, and House Beautiful and is frequently quoted in the New York Times and on CNN.com. Virginia is a contributing editor to Southern Living and has been published in Fine Cooking, and Taste of the South. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, Martha Stewart Living, Paula Deen's Best Dishes, and as a judge on Throw Down with Bobby Flay.
Virginia is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all! and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all and the Chicago Tribune named her one of the "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." We asked Virginia to contribute this article as a dedicated "friend of the festival" and distinguished member of the Southern Foodways Alliance "Order of the Okra.” For more about Virginia, visit virginiawillis.com