September 14, 2006


One session here in Charlotte, "Eating As An Act of Defiance," featured John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance and Judy Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Each discussed the incalcuable impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city's culinary industry. The loss of such institutions as Chef Austin Leslie and the migration away from the city of so many restaurant workers has been devastating.

JohnTEdge.JPGEdge, an author and quasi-academic who writes about southern food, is engaged in an effort to create an oral history of the city through the voices of it's chefs, cooks, serving staff and others in the food industry. He's also trying to preserve recipes that were washed away from the flood. It's powerful stuff. He says he considers New Orleans to be America's "Papal City of Food."

JudyWalker.JPGWalker talked about how the paper - and her job changed in the wake of the storm. She said that there are so many great stories there to be told that it feels as if, "time is rushing past."

Walker says that the biggest demand from readers of her recipe request column: holiday recipes. Why? Because those were the dishes people loved most.

She and her husband are living in the second floor of their home, which had four inches of water in it (they lived on an elevated portion of the city).

"We have chosen to be back in New Orleans," she says.

Edge and Walker had a joint message: Go back and eat.

If you want to help, the best way is to go back and patronize the restaurants that have reopened. The French Quarter was almost untouched by the flood and the hurricane. Go back, they said. Much of what you loved from a food standpoint is still there.

One bit of good news: Edge and Walker said that the seafood in the area is back in abundance. The crabs are fatter and more luscious, the shrimp are huge and the shrimping industry is slowly finding its feet again.

Posted by Jeff at September 14, 2006 04:07 PM | TrackBack
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