There is too much of a good thing, I am discovering. Maybe I am just not cut out for marathon eating, although I am trying.
The first full day of the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium has almost defeated me. I have a theory that when you are on a trip devoted to eating, you should try everything. I am re-examing that theory. I’m just going to skip telling you about breakfast in Greenwood, Mississippi. It was gut-busting. But I forgot to take photos since I am now in a semi-comotose state most of the time.
I arrive in Oxford, home of the Alliance at Ole Miss, to a mid-morning snack of boiled peanuts. Some people have textural issues with boiled peanuts, but I do not. I love them. I intend to eat only one or two, but one of the speakers is dragging on a bit and I absent mindedly consume almost the entire box. I discover that I can open them with one hand, thereby sparing myself the need of a napkin.
Not an hour later, it’s time for lunch. Lunch consists of a lovely menu of two types of tamales – one filled with kale and the other smoked quail – refried black-eyed peas and sweet potato salad. Did I mention they sprinkled crackin’s over the tamales? They were delicious. I especially favored the sweet potato salad and polished off every speck of it.
For dessert we had a lovely butternut squash bread pudding with a hard sauce. I am not normally prone to eating dessert, but in the name of fully experiencing this event I ignore my usual instincts. After all, it’s only two hours from our next food opportunity.
We sit back down for more culinary presentations. There is a delightful young man who reads poems about tamales. At the break, we are told there are cookies for us.
I’m not sure I need a cookie, but of course I investigate the offering. It is a homemade butter cookie with lemon and rosemary in it. I think I should have just a bite. It melts in my mouth. When will I ever have such a cookie again? I eat it all.
The afternoon session ends and there is but a wee hour before cocktail time. I will spare you what the cocktail was. Well, no I won’t. Somebody thought it would be cute to serve rum and Coke with a special rum from Kelso, Tennessee, and old-fashioned bottled Coke. No one could have known that the very first drink I consumed at the inappropriate age of 15 was a rum and Coke. Which I promptly threw up and have never consumed again for more than 40 years. I carry the drink around like a stinking dead fish as I investigate the appetizers.
The appetizers were prepared by Tandy Wilson of City House in Nashville. There were several delicious options but the one I want to make sure you are aware of was the diabolical peanut and mortadella grilled sandwich with fontina sauce. Basically, an extremely upscale fried baloney sandwich. I am ashamed to say I went back for seconds.
The night was not going to end there. Everyone boarded a bus to go eat fried catfish. But not me. No, not me. I was done. Completely spent. I felt slightly ashamed as I quietly crept out of the reception and lurched to the car, uncertain that I would be able to wedge myself behind the steering wheel.
Tomorrow we begin at 8 a.m. with ham and sweet potato biscuits. The horror.