Please, No More Mason Jars: Judy Walker And Brett Anderson On 'Southern Food'

Aug 13, 2014

Relax, it's almost lunchtime.
Credit Times-Picayune Archive

What makes Southern food what it is? Why is it becoming such a national restaurant trend? Why do they serve all the cocktails in Mason jars?

Growing up in the South, | The Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker didn’t think of what she ate as a cuisine. Beans and cornbread, fried chicken, produce straight from the garden and preserves and pickles put up at home — what people ate almost every day. Up North, restaurant critic Brett Anderson got his first taste of Southern cooking at soul food restaurants.

On a recent afternoon, they got together with WWNO's Jason Saul and | The Times-Picayune’s Alison Fensterstock to talk about what we think of as Southern food and why we think it, how and why it’s being elevated on the plates and in the pages of restaurants and food magazines nationwide, the diverse traditions that came together to make it and where, in the melting pot of the 21st Century, it might be going.

As lagniappe, here are some suggestions from Brett and Judy on cookbooks that are essential to making, and understanding, Southern food.

On Louisiana food:

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Cooking up a Storm by Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu
Commander's Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
Real Cajun by Donald Link
Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen
The Picayune's Creole Cookbook
La Cuisine Creole
Creole Feast by Nathaniel Burton and Rudy Lombard
Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine by Marcelle Bienvenu, Carl A. Brasseaux and Ryan A. Brasseaux
Louisiana Cookery by Mary Land

On Southern food:

Frank Stitt's Southern Tables
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
Collards and Carbonara by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman
Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking
Southern Food by John Egerton
Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal
The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis