After an introduction by Times-Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson citing his stereotypical Southern, whiskey-swilling and eating skills, Association of Food Journalists writer in residence John T. Edge opened by suggesting an alternate title, “A Guilty White Southerner Eats His Way Through America.” Edge has chips on his shoulder – being a Southerner, writing about food (is it worthy?). The Southern part comes first with Edge riding his Schwinn from the farmhouse in
Edge’s father worked for the Federal courthouse and watched his father put away white men involved in illegal activities in civil rights. At school in
Edge went from University of Georgia to
According to Edge, those of us who write about food work under a burden of pleasure. Food, not sex, is our most frequently indulged pleasure. Food is our greatest cause of disease and death, but the serious-minded dismiss it. Food offers a non-threatening way to discuss big issues. Warren Belasco wrote “Food: The Key Concepts” can get you up to speed on the basic concepts, but it is dense.
Edge introduced us to four key
Edge read a section from a story about Middendorf’s in Manchac that is impossible to recreate here because its rhythms and use of language spring from the peculiar polyglot of Southern culture, food, absurd detail (Renaissance reproduction portraits all with the face of one party’s husband) and class. The economy of repetitive motion, family advice handed down and the tendrils of Katrina that cling to all food stories in the state are all there.
Sometimes dedicated patrons and writers ascribe too much significance to a restaurant. Take the read of the restaurant and the story to absurd levels (e.g. study of mules in Faulkner), Edge said.