John T. Edge

John T. Edge has served as an Oxford American columnist since 1998. He directs the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA program in narrative nonfiction at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, and hosts the television show TrueSouth on SEC/ESPN.

November 03, 2016

“I will fix this, if they let me,” says Will Harris of White Oak Pastures as he machetes through a briar-tangled bamboo thicket and scampers over a mossy boulder, plunging toward a ruined concrete-bordered public pool glossed with emerald slime and swarmed by dragonflies. For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this bottom-of-the-bluff park at the heart of Bluffton, a farming town on Georgia’s southwestern fringe, was a symbol of civic commonwealth for white settlers who staked claims after Andrew Jackson killed off and kicked out the Creek Indians in 1814.

June 01, 2013

“At first, I couldn’t come in a place like this,” Helen Summerville told me one recent afternoon as she forked into a mound of cornbread dressing and giblet gravy at Kairos Kafe on the south side of Birmingham, Alabama. “And then, for a while, I wouldn’t come in,” she said. “None of that matters now.” Prior to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Summerville, who is black, would not have been served in most white-owned dining rooms in Birmingham. Back then, Ollie’s Bar-B-Q—which was open from 1926 through 2001 and claimed three locations in this neighborhood, including the one now occupied by Kairos—was among the staunchest defenders of the Jim Crow laws and practices that dictated separate eating facilities for whites and blacks.

September 09, 2016

From the archive, an appreciation of cookbook-memoirist Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor.

Vertamae is the sort of person who, while struggling to find work in the broad creative world, came to know James Baldwin as “Jimmy,” played the part of Big Pearl in the infamous Broadway play Mandingo, catered a record-release party for David Bowie, danced and chanted with Sun Ra & his Solar-Myth Arkestra, and inspired her daughter, who was nine at the time, to publish a volume of poems with Doubleday.

July 01, 2016

An installment in Local Fare, a food column by John T. Edge. 

Ten years after Julia Child swanned into American living rooms, espousing the Life Bourguignonne, Nathalie, born in 1939, emerged as a second-wave women’s libber, determined to sidestep “the problem that has no name.”

 

 

September 18, 2015

We’ve now entered the abstract phase of this culinary rebirth, in which the idea of Southern food is as fungible and bankable as the food itself.

February 26, 2015

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.

September 15, 2013

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.

March 21, 2010

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.

August 25, 2009

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.

June 07, 2009

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."

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