Today I am mumbling 'cause of several things I've found out. But they shall remain mumblings.
The weekend was fabulous. There were so many "highlights" - but I think the biggest for me was meeting Randall Kenan. I had no idea he was at the festival - nor that he'd be speaking at the lecture about "Writing Food". I only knew that he'd written the book called "Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Century" that I'd purchased in 1999 after hearing a radio (or maybe TV) interview with him. It's one of my all time favorites - and I still gush about it to this day. Anyway - he was there to talk about food with Kelly Alexander. Kelly recently published, Hometown Appetites, a chronicle of the columns and life of Clementine Paddleford. The panel was moderated by Dr. Marcie Ferris who teaches a course at UNC on "Cooking Up a Culture".
Randall had the FUNNIEST pieces about food. One was about bar-b-que. And you know - as an outsider - I appreciate most styles of 'cue. But when you're from someplace that HAS a style - look out Lordy! There are definite opinions on the animal (beef or pork), the cut of meat, the cooking method, and the sauce. As someone who grew up in Chinquipin, NC, he identifies strongly with EASTERN North Carolina bar-b-que. As a former professor at the University of Memphis he had a lot to say about living among the "heathens". I LOVED IT. He also read a short piece that centered on Howard Hughes eating butter beans and ham hocks for the first time. I could identify!
As I sat there - there were a couple of thoughts that continuously ran through my mind. The main one was, "There are college courses that STUDY FOOD AND CULTURE and writing???" If I'd only known this back in 1984 - or even in high school - I wonder what path I might be on today.
I also wish that we'd had an author or two come into a Freshman or Sophomore English class back then. One who would have talked about the link between the passion of reading and writing. And that writing WASN'T about spelling, grammar, sentence diagramming or parts of speech. That those were just the nuts and bolts. But writers - and authors - were people who told stories. Stories that had a purpose. I never got that out of school. I just loved to read - and I liked reading to learn/experience new things.
And honestly - that's where my love of food and sense of adventure in eating came from. I read about Jews in New York - and gefilte fish, and the south and grits, and Texas and beans, hard tack, and cornbread - and I wanted to taste it all. But I always thought "writers" were English Lit majors who read dusty old "classics" and talked about imagery and subtext - or wrote poetry that was vague and required careful analysis and study to figure out what the hell they were trying to say. (I hold "The Jabberwocky" as exhibit A in this aspect.)
Anyway - besides that little bit of regret - overall the weekend was inspiring, encouraging, uplifting, and thrilling. There were many other great moments - and maybe during the week I'll revisit some of them.
This week is again busy. Writing class tonight. Tomorrow my writing instructor is on a panel discussing the difference between "moderated" critique groups and "peer selected" critique groups - and I'd like to go and hear the discussion and support her. Wednesday night is a "Writing towards Wellness" workshop (free) hosted by another writing group I belong too - and I am looking forward to attending that. Finally on Thursday I turn in the three cooking/food proposals (I have two completed, one to go) - and then Friday I'll go down to the coast with my Sunday Night Dinner Group. We'll spend the weekend at one of the couple's homes on Atlantic Beach. It's a spectacular home - and we always have a great time because there's good food and great wine/vodka/gin/whiskey - and laughter!
Now I better get busy - lots of writing for class - and resume stuff to brush up on.