Building Community With Good Eating
Last Wednesday I began a two-week book tour through Mississippi with my trusty publicist — aka my mother — as my traveling companion. While I still have to push myself out of my comfort zone to tout my own work, my mom has no qualms about talking up Eat Drink Delta — and every other achievement of an of her three kids and three grandkids– to everyone within earshot. That has even included the guys who fixed our tire after we ran over a nail near Hattiesburg! Thanks Mom!!
Everywhere we go, I continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm for homegrown produce and well-preserved local food traditions in restaurants, farmers markets and community events, and in future posts I’ll be sharing those experiences — from the Gulf Coast to Memphis.
Today I am in the quaint and friendly little north Mississippi town of Columbus near the Alabama border. Shortly I’ll be giving a talk about my Delta food finds at the local library, and then we’ll head over to Oxford to spend the night and do a phone interview on SuperTalk Mississippi radio, before continuing our journey.
I am especially excited about the remaining events on my agenda, not only because they are opportunities to sell more books — but also because I will have an opportunity to give shout-outs to creative people who are helping lift up their communities by carrying the torch for homegrown flavors.
Please take a look
at my events page for detailed dates and times of my signings and events, but here’s a special sneak peak of where I’m headed now.
Thursday evening brings me to Oxbow in Clarksdale, MS. This past spring, I visited Oxbow Market with my Ole Miss journalism students (above), who found a lot of Delta fun– and farm-fresh food — within the eclectic walls. Hayden and Erica Hall are Clarksdale natives who left the region for bigger and better opportunities, then decided to come home to use their talents in the kitchen to energize their hometown. And they have succeeded!
Friday I crisscross back over to the hill country to Tupelo, MS, where my husband and I discovered the Neon Pig which — like Oxbow — is run by young chefs who left their hometown, picked up big-city cooking skills, and came back home to make a difference. Besides serving great freshly prepared food, they have their own little butcher shop and a grocery section carrying produce and baked goods from local farmers and purveyors. They’ll be on hand with me over the lunch hour to chat, too!
Signing and samples at the Cleveland Farmers Market is also sure to be a great event, following which I arrive in the city where I started my Eat Drink Delta story, quite literally in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel: Memphis, TN. Speaking of Cleveland, their own Wally Joe (right) is now the chef of Memphis’ ACRE restaurant, where he has graciously invited me to partner with him in a grand night of Delta cuisine that is sure to top off my June book tour in a most delicious way.
A final note: None of these road trips would be without all of my wonderfully supportive (and fellow food-loving) friends, both old and new. At a book signing and talk at the Decatur library for the Georgia Center for the Book, I was delighted to meet James Donald (below), an Ole Miss alum and a University Hall of Famer. I especially appreciated his choice of attire!
It’s always a pleasure to meet those who love what I do, be it Ole Miss, southern hospitality, or simply warm conversation on a summer night. Hoping to see you all soon.
Eat, Drink, and Enjoy the Journey,