Southern Foodways Alliance Extends BBQ Trail

OXFORD, MS—On Monday, June 11, 2012 food historian Rien Fertel and photographer Denny Culbert begin a month-long trip to gather and preserve the stories behind South Carolina’s barbecue culture. In conjunction with the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) and the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the duo will document the people and institutions that are historically and socially significant to South Carolina’s culinary culture.

Fertel and Culbert’s South Carolina BBQ Trail itinerary will carry them through Upstate, the Lowlands, and Midlands of the State. They will document barbecue houses in all four of South Carolina’s sauce-varietal regions, from the mustard belt that extends through the State’s center toward Charleston, to the peppery vinegar country of the north-east coast, to the western tomato-based hinterlands. They will also explore the State’s diverse barbecue accoutrements, including hash, chicken stew, vegetable side-dishes, and desserts.

The pair plans to post their interviews, photographs, and profiles daily on the project’s blog (http://www.thebarbecuebus.com) and on Twitter (http://twitter.com/TheBarbecueBus). At the culmination of the trip, the oral histories will be added to the SFA’s online Southern BBQ Trail
(http://www.southernbbqtrail.com). The SFA’s oral history program, led by Amy Evans, has collected more than 600 oral histories across the South.

The South Carolina BBQ Trail marks Fertel and Culbert’s second road trip in what they call “The Barbecue Bus,” a state-of-the-art eco-friendly “green” RV. In their first barbecue adventure, last winter, the duo rambled through North Carolina, where they documented fifteen classic barbecue restaurants and interviewed their owners and pitmasters (http://www.southernbbqtrail.com/north-carolina).

Rien Fertel is completing his dissertation at Tulane University concerning Creole literature, myth, and memory. He teaches in the Tulane University History department, researches and writes on culinary cultures, and has completed over 40 oral histories for the Southern Foodways Alliance. He writes the Past & Repast column for the Oxford American online at http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/authors/fertel-rien. Splitting his time between the banks of St. Martinville’s Bayou Teche and New Orleans’ Mississippi River, he calls himself a “Bicoastal Louisianian.”

Denny Culbert, a former newspaper staff photographer who transitioned to full-time freelance work, is building a career documenting the South’s culture at home and afield. He has recently collaborated with Fertel on two articles for The Local Palate magazine. Based in the heart of Cajun Country, he more recently worked as the Official Photographer for Lafayette, Louisiana’s twenty-sixth annual Festival International de Louisiane. His work can be viewed at http://www.dennyculbert.com.

Photo by Katie Frayard


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