March 09, 2015
Lance Hill is a man who does not let quiet heroes be forgotten. Not the quiet heroes of the civil rights movement, of disaster recovery, or of the Thanksgiving table. Nor is he someone who lets villains win without a battle. Not the villain called white supremacy, not social passivity or root-knot nematodes.
June 13, 2017

Following John McPhee to Florida.

McPhee’s book about oranges in the age of concentrate production is not a screed against industrial food or agribusiness priorities. There’s no scolding chapter explaining which oranges to buy at the grocery store. For that matter, there’s no hand-holding “what will happen in this book” chapter or really even much in the way of plot or main character, aside from the regular presence of our reporter guide. In that way, it doesn’t much resemble the books published about food today.

February 27, 2019

An installment of Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris. 

Every prepper magazine carried an article on water, mainly because there are a lot of overpriced devices out there for gathering, purifying, and transporting it. This gave me a sense of ease because as a rural man, I have my own well and am not dependent on external sources! My mitigation was fleeting—the pump runs on electricity. Just like that, I became a selfish, uncaring, deficient man, dependent on the power grid. A section on “Clean Water Wares” gave me serious concern due to its opening line:

With very few exceptions, water is the most important element required to survive an extended emergency. 

 

November 12, 2014

Cooking with Chris. The author lays out his imaginary career as a spy in another hilarious essay, comparing the "Stories and Recipes From CIA Families All Over the World" and the "Cherokee Club Cookbook." As he says, these texts were literally meant for him to find.

April 10, 2015

Within certain communities, it’s become popular to host “white trash parties” where people are urged to bring Cheetos, pork rinds, Vienna sausages, Jell-O with marshmallows, fried baloney, corndogs, RC cola, Slim Jims, Fritos, Twinkies, and cottage cheese with jelly. In short—the food I ate as a kid in the hills.

April 19, 2016

I came to Replacements, Ltd. to see the huge collection of Fiestaware, the beloved American-made brand of colorful china, and to follow a hunch I had that a plate has special significance in the South. This was both an ethnographic mission for my work as a cultural anthropologist and a personal quest: I am one of countless Americans who collect Fiestaware.

July 05, 2016

I was in Miami to think about Andy Sweet, a photographer who died far too young in 1982, and whose major subject was the weird, poor, old, and Jewish South Beach that everyone says has been gone for a long time now.

August 18, 2013
Experiencing Albert Murray through his books means accepting the dare of his prose: Read these pages out loud, Basie-swinging from sentence to sentence. Murray’s literary musicality emanates from his fluency in modernist techniques and his blues idiom intelligence.
September 09, 2014

"It’s exceptionally difficult to talk about Haw—the newest record from Hiss Golden Messenger, the songwriting alias of M. C. Taylor—without talking about death, and Sunday morning seemed like as good a time as any for Taylor and me to get into it. We were seated outside at Durham’s Geer Street Garden, and in between forkfuls of grits I was trying to tell him about an interview I’d read with the Sri Lankan monk Bhante Gunaratana, in which Gunaratana suggested that death is constant, omnipresent."

August 07, 2014

It’s an American tradition made manifest in class ascendancy (moving to New York to escape a hick town, getting an education and altering an accent): when we feel incomplete—when we feel uncomfortable in our own skin—we seek newer, richer identities. We examine the people who have what we want; we costume ourselves.