As the Nation Feasted on Southern Food Fads, We Held Down Our Diverse Roots | Food Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

As the Nation Feasted on Southern Food Fads, We Held Down Our Diverse Roots 

Tamales being plated at El Chapin in Durham

Photo by Alex Boerner

Tamales being plated at El Chapin in Durham

This year brought many headaches and heartbreaks, but our food still showed us our soul. If you bit hard enough, you could find plenty of stories on your plate.

In our 2016–17 Finder special, Angela Perez heralded the wide appeal of Southern food. "Even the most health-conscious cosmopolitan needs to find culinary succor in some good ol' down-home fried and fatback-laden goodness," she wrote. It's true. Southern food is a thing. Food-obsessed people nationwide looked South, despite our political faux pas, for the latest dishes. But while the rest of the country defined Southern food as trendy chicken-and-waffle joints and sixty-six-dollar collards from Neiman Marcus, we stayed rooted in what we know is truly ours.

One persistent myth of the South is its cultural homogeny, but there is no dearth of diversity here, and there hasn't ever been. Southern food provides a rich historical context for this variety. In 2016, we saw Triangle folks staking claim to their roots or blooming (and flourishing) where they've been planted.

The Ordoñez family at El Chapin, the first Guatemalan restaurant in North Carolina, celebrated its first year of business in a Durham strip mall. Toriano and Serena Fredericks of the roving Boricua Soul food truck and Oscar Diaz at Raleigh's Jose and Sons challenged the idea of authenticity in food as well as our obsession with it.

In our Dish special, Kim Lan Grout pushed a tense conversation about cultural appropriation in a new direction, comforting us with the notion that it's OK to eat pho how you want to (it's "a lot like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: there is no wrong way to eat it"), but reminding us to make sure we gulp the history that comes with it. And our inaugural food awards honored four local preservers of tradition—Katherine Gill of the Hub Farm, April McGreger of Farmer's Daughter Pickles and Preserves, and brother-sister team Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha of Bida Manda.

These Southerners are planting, sustaining, and shaping the future of food here in the Triangle, and it's food that takes you to the heart of a place.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Growing Our Own."


  • One persistent myth of the South is its cultural hegemony, but there’s no dearth of diversity here.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

The Refectory is no longer on the Duke Campus. Their new, permanent location is on Chapel Hill Blvd, and yes …

by Beth Owl's Daughter on The Refectory Cafe (Durham County)

Food was good. Service was extremely poor last night. Server had to be reminded too many times to bring a …

by robbo on Blu Seafood & Bar (Durham County)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Jesus Vasquez - I don't want to speak for Monica Segovia-Welsh, featured in this story as one-half of the business, …

by victoria_foodeditor on Chicken Bridge Bakery Feeds Bodies and Minds with Baked-In Messages of Resistance and Solidarity (Food Feature)

As for the previous post, please explain the difference between "appropriating" and celebrating/appreciating different cultures.

by Barbara 2 on Chicken Bridge Bakery Feeds Bodies and Minds with Baked-In Messages of Resistance and Solidarity (Food Feature)

Another White boy appropriates Latino culture. But it's cool, cause he's against HB2, supports the protestors at Standing Rock, and …

by Jesus Vasquez on Chicken Bridge Bakery Feeds Bodies and Minds with Baked-In Messages of Resistance and Solidarity (Food Feature)

While I hate to see local/small farmers get hurt, the problem that could eliminate it would be to stop the …

by Barbara 2 on Trump’s New USDA Pick Is Making It Harder for N.C. Farmers to Survive (Food Feature)

WHY cut down those 50 ft. pine trees, dude??????

by Phyllis Nunn on Raleigh Artist David McConnell's Infinity Hundred Is a Biodiverse Alternative to Big Agriculture (Food Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation