John T. Edge has served as an Oxford American columnist since 1998. The city of Nashville has chosen his latest book, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, as the citywide read for 2018.
Grasping a starched napkin in his left hand and twirling a pair of mod eyeglasses in his right, Goren Avery shepherds the flocks who seek purchase nightly at Highlands Bar & Grill, this reliquary of a restaurant, the most vaunted in the South. This place, and, by extension, this city, is his domain.
On a summer day in 1949, ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, novelist Donald Windham, painter Buffie Johnson, playwright Tennessee Williams, and writer-provocateur Gore Vidal gathered at Café Nicholson, a bohemian supper club set in the back courtyard of an antique store on New York City’s Upper East Side.
An installment in Local Fare, a food column by John T. Edge.
Integration came early to barbecue. (And it remained, after the Civil Rights Movement came and went, while schools and other public accommodations re-segregated.) That’s the story we chowhounds tell, with a whiff of self-satisfaction.
In 1995, when the late Larry Brown first published (in the Oxford American) the essay "Billy Ray's Farm" about his son's farm in Lafayette County, Mississippi, he was both realistic and optimistic about the challenges of farm life. He could not have known that one day his friend, the renowned chef John Currence, would open Big Bad Breakfast, a new kind of diner featuring local ingredients, including dairy products from Billy Ray's heifers. John T. Edge recently visited Billy Ray and his milking cows at the Brown Family Dairy.
Reminisces of eating rat-trap cheese: "We ate it in the parking lot, with sleeves of crackers and tins of sardines, its hue a not-of-this-world orange, with a texture that straddled cheddar and polyester. And a red wax rind. Stored beneath a see-through plastic dome. Sliced into wedges with a countrified guillotine."